Breastfeeding… LiveJournal: NO. Minti: YES.

Daddytypes wrote about Valleywag writing about what a LiveJournal blogging mother named Cindy wrote on a LiveJournal breastfeeding blogging community called Boob Nazis. The Exposing LJ Abuse blog also has its own running account of events. My turn! My turn!

Baby breastfeeding photo
LiveJournal informed Cindy an icon she attaches to her messages was “inappropriate” and issued her an ultimatum to remove it as her default user picture, lest they suspend her online journal. Her icon was a breastfeeding scene. The gals at Boob Nazis don’t take kindly to being asked to censor depictions of the most natural, most happy and healthy act in the world. As of this writing, negotiations are underway with LiveJournal’s parent company, Six Apart, to reach a resolution. (FYI, Six Apart hosts Thingamababy through its service.) Visit Boob Nazis for the latest information. If I’m informed of a response published by Six Apart, I’ll happily link it.

My reaction: What is there to negotiate? Either Six Apart digs in its heels, or it accepts breastfeeding images. For people who recognize public breastfeeding as normal—that
breasts are not obscene—requiring you to conceal yourself, even as
an icon, is no different than being told to cover up because of your
race or gender or hair style or style of shoes or… or… Would you be happy being asked to move to the back of the bus to appease the sensibilities of an ignorant few? Hell, to appease the sensibilities of an ignorant majority?

Eye-popping brain-searing Internet porn is available to anyone of any age with a few novice clicks. It is outrageous to take issue with positive and healthy portrayals of the human breast. It’s just plain absurd when those portrayals take place in an adult medium (e.g., the Internet). That’s why Internet filters exist and good parents supervise their children’s usage. Moreover, spend some time reading LiveJournal blogs. There are far more adult uncensored ideas conveyed by bloggers than loving depictions of breastfeeding babies.

Sadly, it seems I, a dad, may be more steadfast in my convictions than the so-called “Boob Nazis” because they appear to be negotiating concessions—types and levels of exposure of breastfeeding depictions which may be deemed appropriate by LiveJournal censors.

My action: I asked Matt Macfarlane, co-founder of the parent community, whether users may post breastfeeding photos on their parent blogs. Here is his response:

“Yes, Minti has no issue with the posting or use of tasteful breastfeeding related images on our site.  Breastfeeding is a popular subject on our site and we already have a number of member written articles on the topic. :)

Minti is a parent-to-parent advice site (with blog features free to all members) which fully supports new content contributions by parents, in fact we had to disable a number of parenting related words from our ‘naughty words filter’ just to ensure that articles written by parents were not automatically reported by the system.

Of course, gratuitous shots of naked breasts with a token child in the far distant background would not be very welcome. ;)”

I said it before… Minti could become the MySpace of the parenting world… or the LiveJournal of the parenting world.

Update: A LiveJournal employee posted this apology on the Boob Nazis forum. However, I boil down the apology to this one unreassuring statement:

At present, we have agreed to review both our policies
and our enforcement procedures to ensure that we are acting both
consistently and fairly.

Second Update: The Boob Nazis issued a news release with more info on The Register was one of the first media outlets to pick up this story with the article, “LiveJournal tells lactating mums to put ‘em away.”


8 Responses to “Breastfeeding… LiveJournal: NO. Minti: YES.”

  1. LJAB says:

    Thanks for the mention, and the info from Minti — I’ve added it to my blog.

    May 24th, 2006 at 1:52 pm

  2. Evan Reynolds says:

    Frankly, I’m more offended by this group naming themselves “Nazis” than by them wanting to post pictures of themselves naked. Whether they breastfeed or not, Nazis are pretty bad. And by calling themselves Nazis, even if in some sort of sick joke, I’m pretty much aganst them.

    I wonder if they allow Jewish mothers in that group?

    May 26th, 2006 at 9:23 am

  3. Kai Jones says:

    This is an oversimplification of the issue. LiveJournal allows more than one icon, and it’s only your default icon that can’t be nudity–you can have all kinds of perverted icons and pick them for each response or post (I know, I’ve seen plenty that I found objectionable). You just can’t have it as your *default*.

    May 31st, 2006 at 12:45 pm

  4. AJ says:

    What’s the significance of censoring an icon when it is a default vs. not default? The point may be moot though. I doubt any distinction will matter to someone who views breastfeeding as normal and devoid of shame.

    May 31st, 2006 at 12:50 pm

  5. Kai Jones says:

    You can set a preference to only show a person’s default icon when you are reading their journal–it’s a form of parental control.

    And as a nursing mom (until they were 18 months old, or they wanted to quit, their choice), I do think the distinction matters even though I view nursing as normal and devoid of shame–don’t assume everyone shares all your opinions just because they agree about one thing (i.e., breastfeeding).

    They’ve got a rule against naked women’s breasts; discriminating in favor of breastfeeders would be worse in my opinion than a simple blanket forbidding of default icons of women’s breasts.

    May 31st, 2006 at 1:17 pm

  6. Anonymous says:

    Nurse in and press release.
    for more info

    May 31st, 2006 at 4:46 pm

  7. Mel says:

    At first, I agreed with the women of this community. But as their behavior became more obnoxious toward SixApart (the company who runs LJ), and then decided to play a little “I’m deleting for one day!” stunt today, I lost sympathy for them.

    LJ simply asked them to switch their default icons. They can still have any breastfeeding icons they wish. Saying that they were banned because they had breastfeeding icons is incorrect.

    And yes, I’m personally offended much more by their name of “Boob Nazis.”

    June 6th, 2006 at 6:01 pm

  8. Yonmei says:

    Mel: Ah, the good old “If you’d behaved in a more ladylike fashion, I’d have listened to you!” dismissal.

    Evan: As I understand it (not now, never have been a member of the BN community) the name of the community came from some obnoxious childfree git calling mothers determined to breastfeed “boob nazis”.

    June 6th, 2006 at 11:42 pm