Creeps, Leave Nursing Mamas Alone

Social media is such fun.  It’s where we get to share pictures, call each other names, and it is another place where women encounter abuse.  I have been incessantly harassed and trolled for a year now, one troll after another, people who report me for violations of Facebook’s community standards intended for “encouraging respectful behavior” with regards to nudity.  They are offended by pictures of my child nursing, and call it “pornographic”.

Since my story about Facebook deleting my account over a breastfeeding photo went viral in June of 2014, photo reports are a regular event in my social media life.  I am an activist, and I use social media to speak out about issues important to me, so I expect some level of backlash; however, it amazes me that the number one reason I am trolled and harassed is over my “lactivism”.

Yesterday, I decided to open my “Other” mailbox Facebook has for private messages.  Checking my “Other” mailbox gives me anxiety because I frequently receive messages like this one:BrianWatkinsHarassmentPM

https://www.facebook.com/poliscimommy/posts/10205282407752066?comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22O%22%7D&pnref=story

Unfortunately, I am not alone.  The online harassment of women is nothing new.  Women report abuse of this nature daily.  This has been a hot topic for a while with celebrity women such as Jennifer Lawrence and Nicki Minaj who spoke out against the abuse they have endured.

The harassment of nursing mothers is its own level of creepy.  Here’s a disturbing comment left on one of my breastfeeding pictures this week.TravisSearles

 

Here’s the jewel he left in my inbox.Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 11.23.02 AM

 

Brian Watkins (the first creep) tells me that he has been harassing me for some time now.

 

We aren’t friends, guy, stop coming to my page and looking at my pictures if you find children eating so offensive.  You don’t need to report my pictures.  You aren’t saving the “children”.  You’re just being a pain in my ass because Facebook’s algorithms still haven’t figured out that my photos do NOT violate their community policy even though Facebook has repeatedly stated these removals are mistakes.

 

I have been locked out of my account multiple times since the news story aired because of creepy trolls like Brian and their relentless reporting.  As recently as last month, Facebook blocked me from posting content for a total of 3 days because I posted a breastfeeding picture of another mom.FromBellyToBreastBan

https://twitter.com/PoliSciMommy/status/609059527833456640

Now, the inability to post content on Facebook, while frustrating, is not the grand offense.  It is the treatment of women, and the shame associated with our bodies versus the normalcy of breastfeeding.  Nursing mothers have enough struggles just trying to feed our babies.

We do not need the objections, the looks, the stares, the rude photos posted to social media mocking us, the trolls, the reports, the bans, and the nasty messages and comments to go along with the already difficult task of breastfeeding.  Let us feed our babies in peace and comfort.  These are important elements to a healthy breastfeeding relationship.    If pictures of babies breastfeeding bother you, perhaps you need to look inside yourself and question why exactly you find it so objectionable.

Our breastfeeding community is strong.  We will not allow bullies to intimidate us from nurturing our children normally.  We will not be deterred by creeps from posting photos to support, encourage, and normalize breastfeeding.  I reported the private message above to Facebook for harassment, but Facebook denied Brian Watkins’ message violates community standards.  What does it say when ongoing harassment and intimidation do not violate community standards, but a photograph of a woman and child does?

Even if Facebook doesn’t have our backs, nursing mamas have each other’s.  Breastfeeding Mama Talk posted Brian Watkin’s private message to me, and women rallied against his behavior.  We know what harassment is, and we will not tolerate it any longer. We will not be sexually objectified while we nurture our children.  We will not be shamed. https://www.facebook.com/bfmamatalk/photos/a.471668436214912.96317.411182815596808/888259534555798/?type=1

Feeding children can never be “pornographic”, Mr. Watkins, and if seeing a child nursing sexually stimulates you, please seek professional help.