Lis Riba has been keeping abreast (bah DUMP bah) of yet another big ol' thrash on the Internets:
To put it briefly, for those of you mercifully ignorant of what's going on lately at LiveJournal, lactivists are upset that LJ policy prohibits any image showing exposed nipples or areolae for a user's default icon, even if the icon shows a breastfeeding baby, although such images may be used as non-default userpics, and one can default to a nursing photo that doesn't show nipples.
I do actually have a near-moribund LJ account, but I rarely check into the world of LJ at all; so I was one of the mercifully ignorant. I bring it up mainly because Lis ties it into the thrash(es) I am more familiar with (the revived pr0n and so on wars in feminism), with a question:
Keep in mind, we're not talking about actual nourishing of infants, but just depiction of the act.
Given the 100x100 pixel size restrictions on LiveJournal userpics, these are often little more than naked disembodied breasts with children latched. And as a default icon, this truly is intended to represent the person in a variety of circumstances, reducing the woman to a picture of bare body parts. Is this objectification? I know that many lactivists claim that nursing does not count as nudity, but how does that work in theory?
Personally, off the top, my guess would be that that's probably a non-starter, at least in terms of the nipplage per se--I could be wrong. But as I understand it, most if not all of the feminist anti-porn folks don't have a beef with represented nudity, of itself; and in fact would probably be more likely to support breasts being shown as doing what they're "supposed" to be doing, i.e. feeding yer kid as opposed to titillating (yes, yes) some Man. (Then again, I find myself wondering how many people who are inclined to think along such lines are aware that there is a thriving porn subgenre of "lactation fetishism.")
And, too, I suppose if one is also among the more vehement childfree contigent (i.e. referring to people as "breeders" and so on) then this could open up a whole new set of objections viz "objectification." Then again again, like I say, I've been happily oblivious to this particular trainwreck, so mostly I'm just thinking: weird.
Collectively, we surely do get our panties in a wad over female nipples, don't we?
I mean, seriously, what's the big damn deal? Is there any country in Western Europe (for example) that has this much of a hang-up about breastage?
Meanwhile, the bigger question about what does or doesn't constitute "objectification" is a good one, and is something I've been thinking about for a while now.
More on that later. Meanwhile: talk amongst yourselves.