Denver's Jeanna Hoch wasn't naive when she decided to share a photo of her breastfeeding her baby as her Facebook profile pic. She did so explicitly to make a statement about a society that tends to look at this body part only from an erotic viewpoint as opposed to seeing it as a multifaceted symbol of nurturing, family and love.
Facebook subsequently suspended her account, only to reinstate it a short time later -- but not before Hoch fired up a lively debate on the topic. Photos and more below.
Here's a look at a photo posted by Hoch on Tuesday....
...as well as an image shared with 9News that the station strategically blurred for broadcast: Hoch was prepared for a reaction to such shots. Yesterday, she posted the following: "Save yourself the time. You do not need to explain yourself before hitting that unfriend button. There is no need for a PM, a comment, or a hairflip. Buh-bye now!"
A short time later, she provided an update on the reaction: "Since yesterday, I have lost seven FB friends (that I know of). I feel so much lighter now that immature adults that can't handle a woman breastfeeding her baby with a bare breast exposed have removed themselves or been removed from my page. The reporting has stopped, and FB has not removed my pics. 'Nanny nanny boo boo. Stick your head in doo doo!'"
The celebrating stopped shortly thereafter, when Facebook took down her page, apparently because someone flagged one of the photos as "inappropriate." Hoch reacted by reaching out to 9News. The station then contacted Facebook about the decision, which contradicted the social media giant's own policy. A Facebook "help" section passage quoted by the station answers the question of whether breastfeeding photos are allowed like so:
Yes. We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we're glad to know that it's important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook. The vast majority of these photos are compliant with our policies. Please note that the photos we review are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other Facebook members who complain about them being shared on Facebook.
After a second inquiry from the station, Hoch's page was put back online, with a Facebook rep explaining to the station that an employee had acted "by mistake."
In the meantime, the photo controversy, fueled by 9News' coverage, spawned reactions aplenty from Hoch's Facebook friends and station viewers.
Many of the comments were positive. Examples on Hoch's page include:
This is so inspiring. Mad respect to you beautiful mama. Hell. Yes.
Good job Jeanna! You did amazing!
Of course, lots of folks who felt the photos were inappropriate made their thoughts plain as well. Hoch fought back with messages like this one:
So people are screenshotting my posts and claiming I did this all for personal attention. Screenshot this: Let me be clear. Anyone that thinks I did this for personal attention is an idiot. Plain and simple. This was a very difficult thing to put my family and myself through. I did this for women. All women because my body is not a sex object.
In another item, she wrote:
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Yes, I am forcing people to look because society forces women to hide. I want people to examine why the female breast is considered vulgar when not on display for a man's pleasure. Facebook is the perfect forum for this because they (as a company) censor the female body when women choose to show it off in art, protest, mastectomy recovery photos, breastfeeding photos, etc. However, they allow photographs where women are portrayed in sexual ways...ass out, titties out, bent over... I have seen REAL porn on fb and reported it, and it was not removed. This is a problem. I am a real woman, a feminist, and an activist. I hope I have made you think about why you are so uncomfortable with a breastfeeding woman showing her breast.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.