Let’s get things back to normal
my tv: American Horror Story, The Americans, Archer, Arrow, Awkward, Banshee, Bates Motel, Bob's Burgers, Broad City, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Covert Affairs, Elementary, Faking It, Girls, The Good Wife, Hannibal, Hart of Dixie, House of Cards, House of Lies, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, Looking, Louie, Mad Men, Masters of Sex, The Mindy Project, Mom, Nashville, Nurse Jackie, Orange Is The New Black, Orphan Black, Parks and Recreation, Penny Dreadful, Pretty Little Liars, Rectify, Scandal, Silicon Valley, ♥Suits♥, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Veep, Vikings and Wilfred.
Photo credit: Paala Secor, 2014
Two weeks ago, if a photograph of an actively breast-feeding mother with nipples exposed - like this one, was shared in Facebook, that photograph would have violated the company’s guidelines regarding nudity and obscenity and been removed. According to my conversations with Facebook spokespeople, as the result of a quiet policy change made two weeks ago, that is no longer the case.
Last year, when Jaclyn Friedman, Laura Bates and I organized a social media campaign challenging Facebook to recognize gender-based hate, the public focus of the initiative was on revealing the ways in which content depicting gross violations of women’s human rights — rapes, domestic battering, widespread violence against women — were being treated as, among other things, harmless jokes. After five days, 60,000 tweets and 15 advertisers leaving the platform, Facebook acknowledged the problem and committed to addressing it. For the past year we have been actively involved in pressuring the company, as have many others, to remove restrictions on women’s freedom of speech that results from "obscenity" double standards. While female toplessness is legal in many places, and breastfeeding in public is legal everywhere in the US, it remains “obscene” under many social media rules, and in daily interactions offline. Each time there is news about graphic and violent content allowed in Facebook, the ridiculousness of banning photos of women feeding their children is highlighted.
Two weeks ago, Instagram disabled Rihanna’s Instagram account and then quickly reinstated it. She has since mocked their nudity policy and closed the account. Rihanna’s body-based statement was hardly new, but is more and more common. Last week, Scout Willis took topless walk through New York to protest Instagram’s polices after she posted a photo of a t-shirt featuring two topless friends. Instagram called Willis’ deleted photos (which included nipples) “incidences of abuse.” Last week, model Natalia Vodianova posted a “legal” breastfeeding photograph (no nipples showing) that was criticized by breastfeeding advocates who felt that the image did more harm than good by sexualizing the act. These high-profile celebrity engagements, led earlier this year by Miley Cyrus, are helping the #FreeTheNipple movement pick up serious steam. (In Facebook, even the cartoon icon for #FreeTheNipple, a global movement that has grown up around a soon-to-be eponymously named movie about decriminalizing the female body, has been removed from Facebook, while the Hooter’s “owl” and Travelocity’s remains cozily entrenched.)
A lot of ire is focused on Facebook, because, in terms of population, it is the third largest country in the world. Facebook is not responsible for the double standards, or the rules and beliefs that they reflect. They are mainstream ones in these regards. The MPAA, the FCC and the modesty and morality police of the public sphere are all equally censorious about women’s toplessness. However, by virtue of its regulation of content, it is an important social arbiter of them.
The idea that women should be able to share non-sexually objectifying images of their bodies, a form of counter-speech to our pervasive sexual objectification, eludes many people, who seem to skim the surface of what the core issues are.
The point is not that all women should walk around topless. Nor is it a display of sexuality or “me, too” activism. The point is that culture promotes denigrating, sexually objectifying images of women and girls, everywhere we look, while simultaneously barring us from freely using our bodies to renounce the same. This is a symptom of patriarchal power. In social media and on newsstands today you can see the cover of, for example, Sports Illustrated 50th Anniversary issue featuring three women, buttocks thonged, bared and oiled, in Facebook, but cannot share news featuring pictures of women, bared breasts, protesting laws, creating art or objecting to policies barring toplessness - like this Hip Mamma cover, which was banned.
These mainstream rules are rooted in ideas about who has access to women’s bodies. Consider “the nipple problem” in light of virtually ever culture’s ideas about “ladies.” The word “reserved” is frequently used to describe women who are laudably ladylike. In general, a woman who bares her breast is not considered a lady at all, but, frequently the exact opposite. She becomes a public women, in the historical sense, “bad.” The idea that “public” women are available to all men for sex, and also deserving of degradation or any violence that comes their way, retains a strong hold on societies the world over.
Most people think of “reserved” as it pertains to women as meaning “modest,” but that’s not all it means. In the subtle and implicit sense of wordplay and the human psyche, a reserved woman is also one “held for private use.” Whose? The woman’s? That is highly doubtful since she is actually in possession of her breasts at all times — she is just not in control of their use and representation. So then it becomes a matter of other people uses, representation and access. While the relaxation of the rule regarding breastfeeding mothers is a good one, it is still problematic in that in the case of women’s breasts they are allowed to be seen in someone else’s use. This is an association of women’s bodies with service and sacrifice. With mastectomies the association is with pain and suffering. In neither case is the woman’s painless, selfish, autonomous expression primary.
Needless to say women in possession of themselves make some people uncomfortable.
It still remains true, however, that sexually objectifying content and non-consensual photography, are proliferated in massive quantities daily and allowable, while pictures of women politically protesting topless or displaying nudity in art are not. Facebook deserves credit, however, for making two important changes in the past year. They changed their policy toward mastectomy photographs and made it possible for millions of women who have survived breast cancer to, if they so chose, post their photographs. And a mother breastfeeding her child, and sharing a photograph of it, is no longer considered obscene. These two changes, a long time in the making, mark a move in the right direction.
Can never reblog this photo enough:
David Levithan, Every Day (via trickbop)
Kristen Stewart in ‘Just One Of The Guys’ by Jenny Lewis (x)
“At roughly 2:35, Kristen Stewart waggles her eyebrows in suggestive delight at the viewer, then beckons to herself as if to say “Me? You? You? Me? Is this happening? Let’s make this happen.” Kristen Stewart contains more drollery in the crook of her little finger than you have in your entire miserable carcass.
You are a piece of shit and I hate you. I would cheerfully slide a knife across your eyelids to spend three-quarters of a minute looking at Kristen Stewart’s neck from a respectful distance.” [x]
press play and watch the gif.
just trust me.
IF TUMBLR HAD A HIGHLIGHT REEL THIS WOULD BE IN IT
It’s on my dash again
i missed it
The unwritten rule of Tumblr that this post must always be reblogged
well it’s not unwritten anymore now is it
This is mesmerizing!