Live Journal has recently taken a position against one of it's members that has left me shaking my head and changing my default user pic.
I have permission from the LJ user to discuss this on my LJ, so here goes:
In my breastfeeding group cali4niachef posted about how she was recently told that her default user pic (one of a breastfeeding baby) was "innapropriate". She was required to change her default pic within 24 hours, or have her journal suspended.
This is stupid because LJ's policy 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 are graphically sexual or violent in nature 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.
Breastfeeding is neither graphically sexual or violent in nature.
This is stupid because LJ responded to one letter by saying:
These rules exist for the sole purpose of ensuring that users can browse the "public" parts of the site (for example, the directory) without worrying about encountering "not-safe-for-work/public" situations. For this reason, LiveJournal's rules regarding default user pictures are generally restrictive than is strictly defined by obscenity laws.
It is perfectly legal for a woman to breastfeed where I work. It is legal to breastfeed in a public place. If the actual act of breastfeeding isn't considered obscene, legally, then it should stand to reason that a picture of a woman breastfeeding shouldn't be considered obscene.
This is ridiculous because LJ would never seek to have a woman change a picture of a baby being fed from a bottle, spoon, or cup. Only if the baby is receiving nourishment from it's mother's breast, does it then become unacceptable to LJ. Therefore, LJ is allowing a bias against breastfeeding.
The whole thing seems slightly silly to me, because it really doesn't matter if it's the default user pic or not. She could still use it on every single post if she wanted to. It could still be in all of those "inappropriate" places, if she wanted it to be, but as long as it's not the default photo, it's okay with LJ!
I decided to fire off an e-mail to LJ, and this was my response:
Dear LiveJournal user anne_mommy,
Thank you for your report. Unfortunately, for confidentiality and privacy reasons, we are unable to discuss this situation with anyone other than the individual directly involved.
We must also make clear that the decision of the Abuse Team will not be changed because of write in campaigns such as this. We are a small, volunteer-run team, handling an extremely heavy case load. Therefore, this request will now be closed without further reply.
LiveJournal Abuse Team
Ultimately that tells me nothing. LJ isn't required to discuss a personal account with me, but to address my concern about their policy on a default user pic that depicts a woman feeding her baby so that it's clearer and we all understand it. Certainly one doesn't have to be a paid employee to do that!
Until this matter is resolved in a way that publicly clarifies their stance, my default user pic is going to remain Ciaran breastfeeding.
For anyone interested in sending LJ a message, you can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org
The simple fact is that breastfeeding still hangs under a stigma. As if feeding your baby the way you were designed to is really some kind of freaky sex act with a baby and should be hidden under blankets, in bathroom stalls, or at least behind closed doors.
But it's not. It's just feeding a baby. Period. And if my default pic can be a baby drinking formula from a bottle, then it should be equally acceptable for it to be a baby drinking breastmilk straight from the tap.
X-posted to my LJ account