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So, LJ has decided to be hardline on the breastfeeding photos. Think I'm joking? Here's an example. They've sent a notice of suspension to a user using this painting as a default icon:

it's the BVM breastfeeding, natch

and have told our very own ursinehenry that this image violates the TOS:

I can't actually see the nipple in this one

And of course, they're still cracking down hard on obscenities like this one:

turning off your pics was a good idea because this one is really depraved

If you're thinking 'oh, it's all right because they're only restricting default icons', or 'they're being reasonable by only restricting pictures with visible aereolas', I'd like to disagree. Many women are put off breastfeeding, or discouraged or embarrassed about doing it in public, because they believe that people will be offended. The position LJ has taken is one that only works if you believe that breastfeeding is a little bit dirty; all right in private, or under a blanket, but not where people might see.

But there is only one way to feed babies properly, and that's breastfeeding. Artificial feeding is a poor substitute. Poorer, younger women, and those with less education, are less likely to breastfeed, and if they start, they're more likely to stop quickly. And one reason for that is that they don't feed comfortable about breastfeeding; they don't see women around them doing it, and they don't see positive images of breastfeeding. Lawmakers are beginning to understand this; California, where Six Apart is located, has express legal provision exempting breastfeeding from obscenity legislation. The NHS explains "What we need is an environment where women of all ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds are comfortable with feeding their baby anywhere and at any time".

To make that vision a reality, we have to challenge those who attack it. It's no good to decide that this time it's trivial. Six Apart made a positive decision to go after a pile of entirely unobjectionable pictures of breastfeeding babies. I wouldn't have been remotely as angry if they'd always banned nipples and said 'sorry, breastfeeders, just bad luck'; though they'd still be wrong. But they specifically changed their TOS from 'sexual or graphically violent' icons in order to trap and remove breastfeeding icons. Six Apart think these icons are 'inappropriate', and they're wrong. I can't take my money away from them, because long ago I bought a permanent account. But I think I can help fight back.

Watch out for a new default icon soon (Edit: now with appropriate default icon: refresh if you aren't seeing the animation).

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This sucks (pun not intended). Breastfeeding isn't obscene.

If breastfeeding in California is exempt from obscenity laws then can one of our Californian friends get themselves banned and then take legal action?

No. The servers of Livejournal must act under the laws where they are located. When the servers were located in Cali, this couldn't have flown -- except that it's not to do with an obscenity, it's Terms of Service and thus solely up to the proprietor(s) of a service.

So, we can't make LJ change its policy, but we can persuade them.

What happens if they don't like your default icon? does it get removed, or does the account get removed? if the former no reason not to stay and just kep replacing it..

First, LJ Abuse sends you a warning e-mail giving you three days to change your default icon to something else in line with the TOS. If at the end of three days your default icon is still not in line with the TOS (mine is not) they will suspend your journal and all comments and posts you've made on other journals and communities. No one, including you, will be able to read them.

Thank you for that. It's one of the clearest statements of why the issue is so important that I've read.

There are wider issues than breastfeeding, as well - not to trivialise it, but whole swathes of human behaviour, history, anthropology, art and culture are now open to censorship. The FAQ on userpics now reads:

"Your default userpic is viewable throughout the LiveJournal site, and unlike individual journal entries, it cannot be hidden or protected. It is potentially available to anyone on the Internet who randomly browses the site. Therefore, we require that your default userpic not contain anything too explicit. In particular, icons which contain nudity or graphic violence tend to be inappropriate for default userpics. Strong language on an otherwise appropriate userpic generally does not make the userpic unsuitable for a default userpic."

which is INCREDIBLY vague and lets them get away with stopping anything they don't like.

I now have a default icon that is a crop from this picture: http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?workid=66598&searchid=16078&tabview=image and shows a male nipple, on a nude body being tortured prior to crucifixion.

Strong language on an otherwise appropriate userpic generally does not make the userpic unsuitable for a default userpic

So to stick fuck-cunt-wanker etc on a "nice" pick is not offensive and babies dinner time is. It's mad I tell you. Mad!

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I think this shows how Six Apart's corporate culture has affected LJ. I think a general policy that restricts graphic content off default user icons is reasonable - I gather some people have icons of an ejaculating penis, and that certainly shouldn't be acceptable in areas where minors aren't warned off. Under those terms, the original (non-breast-feeding) default icon which caused all this fuss was at least borderline, and asking for its removal was not silly. However, when the user concerned (and I think pickledginger is right in calling him a troll) raised a load of complaints about breast-feeding icons in protest, instead of saying "go away, you silly man", someone in LJ Abuse thought "oh, I suppose that is nudity," and acted accordingly. Now, in the old indie days, Brad, or someone, would have held their hands up by now and said, "sorry, we screwed up". But corporate culture says you never admit a mistake, and run a mile whenever anyone makes a complaint that might, just might, involve legal action (witness the farce over Absolute Write, as documented at Making Light. So, Six Apart have backtracked, retrospectively rewritten their TOS (not that you could tell from the LJ site, which still makes no specific reference to nipples or aureolae), and generally ended up applying standards that would only be recognised by an Appalachian Presbyterian shunned by his neighbours for the extremity of his views.

As I've said before, I don't have any problem with the drawing of a line - it's where this line has been drawn that seems to me to be wrong. Hence my current default icon. This image could be shown, in considerably clearer detail, on pre-watershed television, or in a book, and no-one would feel the need to provide any warning that minors should not view it. Yet it unquestionably depicts nudity, and nude genitalia at that. I also note that an image search on Google under 'Madonna and Child', applying the strictest filtering controls, turns up on its first page this:

There seems to be an assumption that female nipples and aurelae are sexual regardless of context. I understand the concept of secondary sexual characteristics but since men and women both have nipples and aureolae are they necessarily sexual? I would think not.

It's just as easy to say that penises are non-sexual if they're not hard. Would you like to see default icons of men peeing? Do you think it'd be unreasonable to ban them?

But there is only one way to feed babies properly, and that's breastfeeding. Artificial feeding is a poor substitute.

i have friends who simply were not able to breastfeed, and it sent them into spirals of serious depression -- no good for the baby, no good for them as moms. there has to be some wiggle room here.

Saying that artifical feeding isn't as good as breastfeeding is not the same as saying anyone who has to make do with it anyway is somehow evil and wrong.

I wear glasses and have since I was 10. I like them and think they suit me. However, I don't deny it would have been better to have 20:20 vision, especially when walking into a pub on a cold night.

Yes, breastfeeding is the best way to feed a baby, when the mother can do so. Some women can't for medical reasons, and some of those women go through a lot of angst because they know that it would be better for the baby if they could, and while they're trying to nurse and not producing enough milk, or having other physical problems, what they're being told is not "keep doing your best" but "there's only one way to feed babies properly, and you aren't capable of it."

Re: Agreeing with sdn

What is an example of a medical reason why someone can't nurse? (Never getting the baby to latch on properly do to her shape or baby's poor suckling ability isn't a medical reason, neither is a low milk supply.)


Re: Agreeing with sdn (Anonymous) Expand
The position LJ has taken is one that only works if you believe that breastfeeding is a little bit dirty; all right in private, or under a blanket, but not where people might see.

I don't see that. They haven't said or implied anything is dirty. Because of the huge fuss made by that troll guy, they've had to clarify their position, and they've made it "No nudity". I can't help but think they're entitled to do that without going "Oh, except for the breast-feeders. Oh, and the classical paintings. Oh, and..."

Also, there are plenty of things that are all right in private but I wouldn't do where people can see, and I don't consider them dirty.

Well, they're entitled to do so except for the fact that they took a big chunk of change off me for a permanent membership based on TOS they've now changed. And I'm similarly entitled to say that I think they're being completely daft, and to protest by not using their service. Though I don't particularly want to move off LJ permanently.

They're not going for 'no nudity', incidentally. They're going for 'no human female nipples'. I've not seen a suggestion that swisstone is going to be suspended, for example.

What does "they're still cracking down hard" mean? And who is the user who got the notice of suspension?


cangetmad and yonmei have now got notices of suspension. sparrow77 is the one who was using the BVM pic I used, and the_fishery was using 'Yummy!'. Several others have now had their accounts suspended, including witchbaby33 and theprophecygirl. Once you're suspended, people can't see any of your posts or comments; if you don't agree to correct the offending picture, your journal is deleted.

I think personally that I am likely to cave before that point. But we will see.

I've got a nice solidarity default pic. I do so hope they try and censor it.

Someone needs to report it as offensive first. Are the people in LJ's various rabidly childfree communities (not to be confused with sane childfree ocmmunities) systematically going through any lists with your name in looking for offensive icons? Because they're going through the breastfeeding communties checking membership lists.

You're NOT fucking serious....

But SNATCH is ok right?! As long as the snatch in question is not doing something obscene like GIVING BIRTH....

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