Hang on, close your eyes, don’t click on the “Read on…” link at the bottom of this post; I’ve put an obscene picture of explicit prurience below the fold. It might arouse you to engage in wild monkey-sex in your workplace, or worse, inspire horrific violence. Don’t view it if you are a sensitive person!


Alternatively, if you’re wondering what kind of sick, blue-nosed prude would find such a simple and lovely image of a natural act between mother and child offensive, you need look no further than the LiveJournal administration.

(via Jeff Hess)


  1. George Cauldron says

    When I was a kid, a Mormon lady who was a friend of my parents (and otherwise quite a nice person) once floored me by claiming that the reason she didn’t breastfeed her own children was because it was ‘unnatural’. Most inexplicable things from one’s youth make more sense 30 years later. This one doesn’t.

    If nothing else, we should be grateful that this controversy has given us the delightful phrase ‘boob nazi’.

  2. says

    the whole anti-breastfeeding backlash is pretty emblematic of the right’s idiotwave of the last couple decades. the “repeat-until-credible” echo-chamber maneuver has given them the feeling they can say whatever they want. witness the Dover trial, and those morons strutting around acting like whatever they said was fine because the believed it. My ass.

    One of many good things about my fam, they’ll whip out a meal at any moment when a niece or nephew is hungry.

  3. Tara Mobley says

    Awww, that picture is sweet. I’m going to be taking a class on how to do that. Why would anyone find that picture offensive? I guess some people just find breasts offensive and sexual even when they are serving their natural function.

  4. SweettP2063 says

    Totally disgusting!!!

    The baby’s face looking at it’s mom is precious…..ah, mom’s perky breasts, brings back memories of my own long ago before breast feeding and the onslaught of senility. Now my girls look like an upside down map of South America…….

  5. interrobang says

    Yuck, that is offensive. Babies are gross. ;)

    Seriously, though, I think the problem is that our culture just hates bodies in general. We seem to reserve extra dislike for female bodies, and anything to do with eating, excreting, and reproduction, though. Breastfeeding probably twigs all four of those, come to think of it.

  6. says

    “If you suck on a tit the movie gets an R rating. If you hack the tit off with an axe it will be PG.”

    — Jack Nicholson

  7. aiabx says

    Pathetic. No other word for it.
    Family values really is code for puritanism, isn’t it?

  8. G. Tingey says

    “Family values really is code for puritanism, isn’t it?”

    Actually, it is code for complete control via a theocracy.
    Like what used to be called Persia (Iran)
    or, for that matter, N. Korea.

    Or GILEAD….

  9. says

    I have also heard that “unnatural” complaint. That’s gotta be coming from somewhere. Maybe not just Xtian puritanicality, but the postware medical establishment. Many 65-80 year old women today remember being told by their doctors back in the ’40’s and ’50’s that their breast milk wasn’t good enough for their babies.

  10. Xerxes says

    I dunno. I don’t see anything to get worked up into a tizzy over here. I think urinating is perfectly natural, but I wouldn’t whip it out in public or post it as my avatar. It’s just part of our shared public behaviour. No public display of breasts or genitals. Most people don’t want to look at them, and I respect that.

  11. Paul W. says

    (As I once said to a waitress when a friend was breastfeeding at the table…)

    I’ll have what he’s having.

  12. says

    Xerxes, if you’re going to compare breastfeeding to other bodily functions, how about comparing it to the other bodily function that it actually <>is, namely eating. Adults eat in public. Babies should be able to eat in public too.

  13. says

    As part of the kerfuffle myself, I thank you for highlighting it here :) Their revised stance, as of yesterday, was that breastfeeding pics were okay as default userpics IF and ONLY IF no areola or nipple is showing. So, all of you ladies with little areolas are fine, but mine are apparently obscene when used to feed a baby :P

  14. errindel says

    I like a good pair of breasts as much as most folks, but I’m just disgusted by the sense of entitlement that is evident in these fora on LJ and elsewhere. We had a problem like this in Ann Arbor, where there was a sense of outrage because women couldn’t breastfeed at poolside while their (older) kids were swimming in the local pool. I didn’t understand that either, there are much more interesting things to get excited about.

    The most inappropriate level I’ve ever seen this is the baby who started screaming in the front row of the Boston SYmphony Orchestra Christmas Concert on Christmas Sunday one year, and she shut the baby up by whipping it out and breastfeeding the kid in full view of pretty much everyone on the upper decks and the band and the choir.

    Part of me said “Thanks for the show!” but the more rational part of me asked, “Is this something that people REALLY should be doing, or a something that more likely should be done from someplace like the lobby for the consideration of others in the hall?” The midwestern boy in me, of course, thinks that this is something that is best done in private.

    The most cynical part of me wonders how many people would think this is a good idea if they were faced with a worst case scenario of breastfeeding (a profoundly unattractive woman breastfeeding their 3 year old without any trace of modesty whatsoever). At what level would it have to go before it’s NOT ok? How much IS too much?

  15. CCC says

    Lets See. You have a breast. Breasts are sexual. Naughty bits. You have someone sucking on a breast – a sexual act! Heck, I think even typing the word “sucking” is a sexual act, isn’t it? “Sucking.” See? That’s just obscene.

    Sucking a breast is a sexual act, and the person depicted sucking the breast is a minor.

    I’m afraid what you have here, sir, is CHILD PORNOGRAPHY. Which I’m pretty sure makes you a TERRORIST.

    (I’ll have to double check with Alberto Gonzalez on that last part, I may be confusing two seperate points in one of his speeches. At any rate, you have at least one of the trigger phrases!)

  16. says

    Wellllllll, errindel, I’m compelled to point out the obvious here. How attractive or ugly you think a woman is has no bearing on whether breastfeeding is appropriate, and indeed reduces an innocuous act to the level of cheap titillation (yeah, yeah, ha ha) for male onlookers. You may have a point only if “without any trace of modesty whatsoever” means the woman peels off her shirt and is naked from the waist up; since the other bare breast isn’t technically being used for nursing, maybe she’d be in violation of public nudity statutes. Regardless, I’m more than a little annoyed that anyone would even consider the attractiveness of the mother (the mother? or just her rack?) to be relevant.

  17. Polly Anna says

    Oh, my! Just be thankful for the intelligent design of the creator that consolidated innate immunity and nutrition into two strategically located specialized sweat glands.

    People would be really upset if our young had to still inconveniently lick all over parents bodies to acquire both nurture and immunity.

    But at least both daddy and mommy could participate.

    Vorbach C, Capecchi MR, Penninger JM. Evolution of the mammary gland from the innate immune system? Bioessays. 2006 28(6):606-616


    [Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart–Anne Frank]

  18. jbark says

    I’m usually pretty good about desexualizing breasts in the context of feeding, but darn – that there is a nice looking boobie.

  19. flyinfur says

    Errindel, breastfeeding is not a “show” for you. Women don’t breastfeed so they can be gawked at, and babies aren’t always comfortable with being covered with a blanket or shirt. I assume you’re an adult; act like one!

    I too am from the Midwest and breastfed my babies 20 years ago, both for a year. I never heard a single complaint (except from my inlaws, who got over it by the 3rd or 4th time I “whipped it out”, a phrase I’ve never liked, BTW; do people “whip out” baby bottles?). In fact, quite a few people complimented me on doing a good thing for my baby. Not only that, it was free, readily available, and no mess or paraphernalia.

    While I don’t think I would care to take an infant to a concert, I would probably do so were there some compelling reason for me to be there and sitters were unavailable. Don’t conflate inappropriate venue for infants with feeding being inappropriate. I’d think it would have been worse if she’d made her way to the aisle and walked out, with the infant screaming all the way.

  20. says

    Yes, Carson from LJ is apparently a complete and utter dumbshit. The proper thing to do when confronted with unassailable facts that you are completely wrong is to admit you are completely wrong. To then go one and say that, in essence, “any attempts to influence our decisions will just make us take a lot longer to make the shit ass decisions we make” is laughably lame.

    Natural biological processes that help kids develop, 1, lame corporate blog sites, 0.

  21. says

    I completely agree with Michael. Unfortunately this is par for the course with LJ Abuse. I wouldn’t stay on LiveJournal if it wasn’t for the community of friends I’ve built up, and I think it’s pretty atrocious that a company built on the communities its users build so unashamedly ignores what they have to say.

  22. TheBrummell says

    It was pointed out in the comments on the LiveJournal post:

    secondary sexual characters includes things like wide hips and beards.

    That’s if you’re restricting the discussion to human secondary sexual characters.

    Peacock tails, male guppies and their obscene orange spots, recordings of bird songs, etc, are all now “obscene”.

    ZZ Top need to go into hiding; HS is coming!

  23. says

    I think I may have to go and search for default user pictures displaying male nipples, actually. Will they ban default icons of bare-chested gay men kissing? I’m sure that’s very offensive to some people.

  24. Carlie says

    I look at that and all I can think is “looks like a bad latch-on! Fix that kid quick!” Then I remember how squirmy the little buggers are, and figure it self-corrected within a second or two after the picture was taken.

  25. Karey says

    Breastfeeding, like any other activity imaginable, can be done tactfully or tactlessly. Its messed up to atribute the tacky people as something inherantly wrong with breastfeeding publicly itself. Furthermore, as your prototypical american I have the knee-jerk reaction of being a bit uncomfortable when I see it. However I totally don’t think its reasonable to make rules against it for my comfort. If the person using a breastfeeding icon is fine with others judging it tacky when seeing it, because she doesn’t care what other people think who don’t like it, why does anything need to be done?

  26. Seraphym says

    This is pure hipocrisy. I am a male, I can take my shirt off just about anywhere without any complaint whatsoever. This is like being offended when people sweet… ewww their glands are oozing fluid. The fact of the matter is, women should be allowed to go topless without facing public nudity charges (hell public nudity charges are already silly… but thats another point).

    And as for the argument that we wouldn’t want to see an ugly women doing it, well tahts about the most shallow and stupid thing I’ve ever heard. Since when is lack of attractiveness an argument against anything? Are we going to stop letting ugly people into pools and movie theaters? Or even out of their own houses?


  27. says

    In most of the world, this is not a problem to anyone. In the US, it is a problem. Ergo, the problem us with US, not with breastfeeding.

    There is no need for a breastfeeding mother to be ‘tactful’ though some may choose to be.

    Breastfeeding is a subset of the human activity called “consumption of nourishment” which is otherwise unrestricted.

  28. PaulC says

    I think if we as a society want to require that breastfeeding be done in private that we ought to be providing comfortable, appealing private places to do it. Anyone who’s been involved (speaking as a father) in taking a nursing baby out shopping knows it can be a hassle. Some upscale malls and, say, Ikea stores go out of their way to cater to families with nursing kids, but most do not.

    As a purely practical matter, the baby has to eat pretty often, particularly under six months of age. As another purely practical matter, breastmilk just happens to be a higher quality food source for a baby than even the best formulas and conveys immunities that formulas cannot. Therefore, formulas are not a faithful substitute and should not be misrepresented as such. You might argue that bottle-feeding expressed milk is a reasonable alternative, but some younger babies may not be able to bottle-feed and introducing it too early can make nursing more difficult. It’s also kind of a Rube-Goldberg solution to a ludicrously simple problem.

    So spare me the amateur sociology about cultural norms and the psychobabble about the sexualization of breasts. The real issue here is a screaming baby and a very simple, healthy, natural way to address the root cause of the screaming. I think women ought to be able to nurse wherever they choose, but if we as a society really have to insist on keeping it under wraps, we could put some money into the necessary infrastructure to do so.

  29. says

    And as for the argument that we wouldn’t want to see an ugly women doing it, well tahts about the most shallow and stupid thing I’ve ever heard. Since when is lack of attractiveness an argument against anything? Are we going to stop letting ugly people into pools and movie theaters? Or even out of their own houses?

    If the uggos go topless, I reserve the right to use my hand to obscure fields of my vision. Does that make me a terrible person?

    Brian Griffin: Yeah!

  30. George says

    That’s one of the nicest userpics I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing remotely sexual about it. Carson is taking his dumb job (LiveJournal Abuse Team?) way too seriously.

  31. says

    Okay, I’m sorry, but somebody has to argue LJ’s end of things here.

    Because let’s be honest: LJ is a company whose service is primarily utilized by minors, that doesn’t want to get worried about being sued for having a nipple that can be visible a click from their front page.

    Also obvious: just because breastfeeding in public is legally protected from indecency doesn’t mean that photos of people breastfeeding are legally protected from obscenity. And just because something isn’t obscene, doesn’t mean you can’t get sued over it.

    Has LJ made any claim that they refuse to display the icon because they find it offensive? They don’t on that page.

    –LJ’s made no attempt to prevent her from displaying the image.
    –LJ’s explicitly stated she can use it as an icon.

    This seems entirely reasonable to me on LJ’s part: they don’t want something that a litigiously-oriented person could sue them for up on the pages that they are solely legally responsible for. Would I be happier if they said, “we don’t care, we’re willing to fight for people’s right to display their breastfeeding photos”? Sure. But their stance seems so intuitively obvious to me that I seriously can’t understand the outrage.

  32. says

    Quite clearly, the whole problem would go away in a heartbeat if women would just be Good Little Mothers and stay at home with the kid for the first two years.

  33. says

    Jonathan Ehrich said:

    LJ is a company whose service is primarily utilized by minors

    I’m not entirely following this logic here. Would these be the same minors who once upon a time were breast-fed? Would these also be the same minors who may not even have developed sexual feelings for anyone? What a load of poppycock.

    I think the image is elegant and cute and sexual. I don’t these have to be mutually exclusive.

    But I am ashamed that I have a Livejournal account.

  34. shyster says

    I have been around women for whom breast feeding is a militant act. They breast feed their toddlers in public and dare anyone to say anything. Most people have more manners than to make a scene, unlike those milk-churning boob-nazis.
    A rule of thumb: when the child can climb up in your lap and unbutton your blouse and unsnap the bra it’s time to consider privacy or counseling.

  35. says

    Ithika said:

    I’m not entirely following this logic here. Would these be the same minors who once upon a time were breast-fed? Would these also be the same minors who may not even have developed sexual feelings for anyone? What a load of poppycock.

    No, these are the same minors whose parents think that their MySpace accounts exist primarily so that pedophiles can find them and stalk them. The fact that we disagree with the large chunk of the population who thinks that all nudity–including breastfeeding breasts–is intrinsically sexual and disdainful doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

    There’s a distinction between what YOU find offensive and what ANYONE finds offensive. And in case I wasn’t explicit enough, I neither think LJ finds the image intrinsically offensive, nor do I suspect that they think that 90% (random arbitrarily-large number) of their user base finds it offensive. Rather, I suspect that those policies are in place because they’re worried about dealing with the 10% of it that may.

    And by the way, I’m not sure what the point of the argument is that those minors “once upon a time were breast-fed”. Those minors’ parents once upon a time had sex, and yet I don’t see mass protests over LJ preventing people from having actual intercourse in their default icons. And yes, I realize that those are two completely different things: which is my point.

    Maybe I’m just a wishy-washy liberal, but I think the stance they’re holding seems to be a perfectly acceptable compromise.

  36. says

    Rather, I suspect that those policies are in place because they’re worried about dealing with the 10% of it that may.

    My position is that, when the feeling of being offended has such a ridiculous cause, that 10% should be told to get a life and think about what it is that breast are actually *for*.

    You might want to check this out.


  37. Carlie says

    It’s difficult to breastfeed in this society and not turn militant, really. After the umpteenth time of trying to breastfeed in a skanky public restroom and ignore all the germs floating around, after being turned down by a retail worker when begging to be let into a (completely empty) fitting room to have a clean private place to breastfeed, after broiling trying to do it in the car in the parking lot when it’s 100 degrees outside, after hearing a friend relate in tears her story of trying to breastfeed UNDER A TOWEL at the local pool and being told she was being obscene by a 16 year-old wearing a bikini with less total fabric than the baby’s diaper, after carefully planning every damned shopping trip so that you end up at Babies R Us at the exact right time to use their nursing room whether you wanted to go to Babies R Us or not, yeah, one tends to get a bit defensive. It really is a choice of breastfeeding in public or staying at home entirely for a year or so.
    Besides, once a mother gets good at it, you really don’t realize that’s what’s going on unless you stare for awhile, and that’s rude now, isn’t it?

  38. says

    The response of people in the United States to breastfeeding is pathetic and primitive. On a flight to DisneyWorld, when my kids were little, my (then) wife breastfed one of them, under a coverall, Argentinian cape kind of thing. Alas, a woman across the isle, either before or ahead one row, complained to the stewardess, with the stewardess ending up requesting the “offensive incident” be taken out of local eyeshot to the back of the plane. This resulted in my sending what I’m proud to describe as an “irate letter” to the management of the airline afterwards. It didn’t achieve anything, other than the venting of my frustration, since the response was carbon.

    A similar kind of battle was waged at DisneyWorld itself after I loudly protested that men’s bathrooms had no facilities for changing babies’ diapers. To Disney’s credit, they responded and you will now find some kind of facility for doing that in every men’s bathroom on site.

    On another matter, I don’t see the need to justify or separate breastfeeding from sexual urges or feelings. A baby suckling a breast can be a turn-on. It doesn’t mean I or someone else is going to “jump” the woman or otherwise act on it. To those who find this offensive, I say grow up and get real.

  39. Kapitano says

    Can’t you see?! It’s a violent image, degrading to women! The baby’s BITING the breast! With the gums where it’s horrid sharp teeth will be.

    If the picture showed an adult doing that, you pinko libral commie librals would never stand for it.

    GOD bless LiveJournal.

  40. PaulC says

    Holy cow, Carlie! What part of the country do you live in? Here in the south SF bay (Silicon Valley), it’s probably not as breastfeeding friendly as SF or Berkeley up north. But offering an empty fitting room sounds like a no-brainer. And I’d expect a teen to be curious and maybe tactless, but not openly hostile to a nursing mother. Of course, I don’t know from firsthand experience, but your situation sounds like a nightmare.

  41. says

    I don’t have any children, and I certainly don’t find breastfeeding in public to be offensive. Rather, I think people who seem to be *afraid* of breasts need to get some therapy. It also seems like in public, women in our society always have to wear more clothes than men. What’s up with that? Of course, I’ve heard the argument that women need to cover up their bodies because otherwise it will arouse men but that person was also supporting a strict theocracy and punishment of homosexuals. (Unfortunately, it was a guy next to me on a long flight and at 15 I was too polite/afraid to just tell him to shut the hell up and leave me alone, so it was a very uncomfortable flight.) These hypothetical men that are just too aroused by women’s bodies apparently shouldn’t have some personal responsibility about it.

  42. Mike says

    Well, that was a pleasant break from the usual Pharyngula photographic phare of creepy crawlies, squishy squid and birth defects.

  43. ulg says

    I’m appalled to find so many here advocating the starvation of tiny
    babies. It’s not moral to ask a little baby to outlast two or three
    hours of hunger. Remember, these little guys need to eat more often
    the adults – quite a bit more often.

    Worse, you’re creating conflict between the mother’s duty to care for
    her children, and her duty to acquiesce$ to callous prudes. It’s
    horrible for you to ask a mother to deny her children nourishment an

  44. says

    Erm, I think this is a bit of a tempest in a teapot. They are only nixing it because of its use as the default icon, which will show up all over the place beyond that user’s control. They’re not saying they can’t use that image at all (even free users get 3 user icons – and I’ve seen much more explicit ones that aren’t people’s default icon, and LJ is very clear about the policy that you can have those…)

    There’s gobs and gobs of explicit, pr0n, and slash LJ communities that all exist with LJ’s blessing. Is the policy about the default usericon really going to blind everyone to the real freedoms they have on the service otherwise?

  45. says

    Erm, I think this is a bit of a tempest in a teapot.

    well, the repeated citings of actual IRL experiences suggesting breastfeeding women are shunted to a place “noone can see” proves there is indeed a tempest and it is in a far bigger place than a teapot.

    would a breastfeeding mom have her head severed from her neck on the streets of Tehran by ranging roaming mullahs?

  46. NatureSelectedMe says

    I think LJ explained their policy sufficiently. No harm no foul. PZ, you’re becoming something of a mixer in your old age.

  47. arc_legion says

    Nah, Nature, just a guy with a specific beef. I agree, though. LJ has to worry about nutjobs too. Every dollar counts. They made the best compromise they could have.

    There’s an entire society that’s still prudish about sexuality. They have to tow the party line to profit from that society. And it’s a judgement call whether this made LJ better or worse off. Time will tell.

  48. Carlie says

    PaulC – At the time, Kansas. I know, Kansas backwards on anything? It’s a shock. Missouri, too. I was lucky to live in the progressive enclave of Lawrence where I got great breastfeeding support, but even there wasn’t perfect. The town pool incident happened in Lawrence, but it did spark a “feed-in” protest by ‘lactivists’ that even got covered in the local paper.

  49. David Harmon says

    Folks, the point of this is precisely that the puritans *do* want to control the necessities of life. “You get to reproduce if and when we tell you you can, and never mind the biology”. “You get medical care/extreme measures if and when we say it’s OK, never mind what the doctors say”. “Your baby eats when we say it’s OK…” “You don’t even get to *think* about bodies, let alone look at them…”. All tied up with “Sure we can negotiate… do what we say and we’ll call off the mobs/lawyers/protests”.

    And LiveJournal’s concern about “troublemaking prudes” is a direct consequence of prior attacks wherein the prudes claimed the power to decide first that “obscenity” is whatever they damn well say it is, and second that(anything they declare) “obscenity” is to be absolutely barred from any public view, not by social constraints, but by the Law.

  50. NelC says

    Most people have more manners than to make a scene, unlike those milk-churning boob-nazis.

    What a frightening chimera! I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a “boob-nazi”. So glad that LJ is protecting our delicate sensibilities from the legions of these dreadful harridans.

    Seriously, though, what should be the measured response to those who so easily take offence? One could attempt to re-model our society into one where no-one risks offending anyone else, but this risks leveling everything into a intolerant, flavourless monoculture. I favour something more diverse, myself.

    Does LJ have an option for filtering out from view an ignore list, like some web fora do? Perhaps it could be applied to icons? This way, a reader who finds an image offensive to them could take the empowering decision to block it from their own sight, rather than the nannyish LJ trying to second-guess everybody by blocking it from everyone’s sight.

  51. Flex says

    errindel wrote

    ‘The most inappropriate level I’ve ever seen this is the baby who started screaming in the front row of the Boston SYmphony Orchestra Christmas Concert on Christmas Sunday one year, and she shut the baby up by whipping it out and breastfeeding the kid in full view of pretty much everyone on the upper decks and the band and the choir.’

    I think there is something to be said for appropriate behavior in certain social situations, and that doesn’t mean we will erode to a monotonic culture.

    I don’t know the details of the above incident, there are hundreds of possible reasons to explain it, but depending on the situation I may have been seriously annoyed by it.

    Not for any sexual reasons mind you, many body parts are tittilating in the correct context but neutral in a general sense. But because I’ve encountered a few suckling children who are very noisy about it. I go to concerts to list to the music, not to listen to a child screaming or suckling. Or, for that matter, to listen to a person talking, coughing, or eating crackers. So I can imagine being annoyed by a suckling child, and by the mother.

    That being said, there are few situations where I would consider behavior like this annoying. Movies, concerts, and religious services may fall into this catagory, but parks, buses, pubs, and airplanes do not.

    There are plenty of situations where we consider certain behavior inappropriate. I would consider surfing the internet in class during a lecture as innappropiate behavior. It doesn’t hurt anyone, and may not even distract anyone else, but it’s not why you are taking the course. A public offical reading a newspaper at a public meeting is innappropriate behavior. One aspect of the official’s job is to treat the public with respect.

    Finally, who am I to judge what’s appropriate or not? I’m no one special, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t have an opinion about how to treat others respectfully. All the situations I described as innappropriate show a lack of respect for others.

    It’s usually easy to forgive a momentary lack of respect in someone we know well. We should extend that forgiveness to a person whom we don’t know, simply as a courtesy. If it becomes clear that a person is ignoring social conventions, like not talking at a movie, because they don’t care about those conventions and can’t be bothered to respect the desires of others (in this example, the others desire to watch the movie without interruption) it seems reasonable to be annoyed with them.

    All of the above can be condensed into what is known as the golden rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.

    I don’t see how society would collapse or become stagnant by following that guideline.


    P.S. I’m continually annoyed by the Type Key authorization. I typed in a slightly different response, hit POST, and because I was distracted by work for awhile and it had been an hour since I signed in, I lost everything I wrote. It is not remembering my being logged in, and logging me out very shortly after being logged in. Highly irritating.

  52. shyster says

    First, LJ did not make the “milk-churning boob-nazis” comment, I did. I say this so that LJ does not have to take my heat.
    Second, I am neither a prude nor am I offended by public breastfeeding. I am curious as to the motivation of the militant breastfeeders who continue to publicly breastfeed children old enough to take biology classes. My suggested rule of thumb still stands: If the child is old enough to climb up in mom’s lap and unbutton her blouse and unsnap her bra seek privacy and/or counseling. Something beside nourishment is going on and perhaps it should not be in public.

  53. Carlie says

    Shyster –
    The World Health Organization states that breastfeeding should be continued until the child is at two years or beyond; many cultures go far beyond that, even up to age 6 or so, and I’ve read that the correlation of other primate weaning ages to humans (based on tooth maturity, percentage of adult weight, length of gestation to weaning ratio, and percentage of time to sexual maturity) puts chimp weaning at around 5-6 in human years (although I couldn’t find an exact reference, so I won’t hold firm to those data, and of course we can’t make an exact correlation from chimps to us). The idea that a toddler is “too old” to nurse is entirely a social construct, not a hard rule that makes any biological sense. Toddlers can still get a lot of immunity benefit from breastfeeding at least until age 2, and it also helps as a somewhat reliable natural family planning method to space kids out.

  54. shyster says

    Thanks, Carlie. You did fail to address my “privacy” issue. I’m sure that we can all benefit from mother’s milk, but at some point the kid can put down the beer and ask mom to go indoors.

  55. PaulC says

    I’m just disgusted by the sense of entitlement that is evident in these fora on LJ and elsewhere.

    Yeah, God forbid anyone think that parents are entitled to provide their kids with the best nutrition available, or that some desperate screaming newborn with a depressed fontanelle is entitled to fluids and nourishment before serious dehydration sets in.

    Sounds like you’re the one who thinks you’re entitled to having everybody else cater to your arbitrary sense of propriety.

  56. says

    Shyster, I guess I fail to see why there should be any more stringent “privacy” requirements on a 2YO nursing than on a 6MO nursing. A boob is the same thing to an unweaned 2YO as it is to an unweaned 6MO: yummy mealtime. And it’s not as if a hungry 2YO complains any less loudly than a hungry 6MO…

    There seems to be a rampant epidemic of people on both sides of the political spectrum who believe they have some sort of inviolable right never to be exposed to anything that might strike them as different, weird or “offensive.” Don’t want to watch me feed my baby? Then don’t look. It’s kind of creepy to stare, anyway.

    (who’s lived and breastfed in two of NorCal’s most liberal counties and never, ever seen anyone “flaunting” as she breastfeeds… maybe ’cause I don’t stare, ’cause staring is creepy?)

  57. Jesurgislac says

    they don’t want something that a litigiously-oriented person could sue them for up on the pages that they are solely legally responsible for.

    How likely is it, really, that any lawyer would take as a case sueing Livejournal for having a pic of a nursing baby on public view? Or, if some nutter found a nutty lawyer who was willing to try, how likely is it that a court would find Livejournal guilty of obscenity when the issue is a 100-by-100 pixel pic of a baby breastfeeding? I mean, I know the US has a very different standard of free speech vs obscenity than the UK does, also the US is far readier to assume that if it’s a bare female breast it’s obscene, but that different?

  58. says

    Uhrich said:

    But their stance seems so intuitively obvious to me that I seriously can’t understand the outrage.

    Here is the core of the dispute. LJ is acting the way they are (wrongly) because they fear that other people might look at it wrongly, too, and sue them. We are saying LJ should tell those that sue them that they are looking at it wrongly and that they won’t be tricked into thinking that something utterly natural, positive, healthy and doctor-recommended can be put into a bucked called “offensive”. If you find nursing offensive you are an idiot. We want supposedly modern companies like LJ to lead and not follow a rational that is so obviously flawed. Yes, I agree, companies do all sorts of stupid things and we shouldn’t be shocked when they do stupid things. This is a stupid thing.

  59. says

    Yeah, I’m afraid I’m not at all persuaded that LJ is even trying to do the right thing. They are catering to a peculiarly narrow and dogmatic view of what is appropriate — naked human bodies in situations that are clearly not exploitive is not wrong, and what they are doing is perpetuating a cultural bias that is just as stultifying as insisting that women must wear a burqua.

  60. Azkyroth says

    I agree with PZ; compromising with unreasonable people is almost always a bad idea.

    So is failing to vigorously oppose idiotic cultural standards and laws, even if one does abide by the laws. Always makes me sick watching this or that site knuckle under to this or that angry parents’ group without so much as a whimper of protest or an apology to their sane, rational customers in their explanation page…

  61. ulg says

    My suggested rule of thumb still stands: If the child is old enough to
    climb up in mom’s lap and unbutton her blouse and unsnap her bra

    My siblings and I all learned to do this much between the ages of 12
    to 18 months, with the exception that my sister couldn’t climb,
    because her legs were in a brace until she was 2 years old. This is
    much easier than taking a biology class (or, for that matter, learning
    to walk or talk).

  62. NatureSelectedMe says

    I think there’s also the issue of “work safe” to think of here. Bikinis are even uncomfortable when it pops up in a sidebar ad on a blog I may be perusing while I uh.. wait for a compile.. yea that’s it.. at work.