"I put these pictures out on Facebook to put a message out to women – check your breasts regularly and do not ever be ashamed of a mastectomy. For Facebook to claim they were ‘sexual and abusive’ was absurd. There is nothing sexual about them."
After 45-year-old cancer survivor Sharon Adams underwent a mastectomy, she decided that the best way to raise awareness was to post her mastectomy scar on Facebook. The picture is graphic, scary, and far removed from the airbrushed soft core porn images of breasts we see everyday. In a way, it was her personal public service announcement to women.
Facebook's response? They took the images down, claiming they were "sexual and abusive." To find out what happened after this, read more
This sounds remarkably similar to the furor they created when breastfeeding photos were taken down and Facebook spokesperson Barry Schnitt said, "Photos containing a fully exposed breast (as defined by showing the nipple or areola) do violate those terms (on obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit material) and may be removed."
Adams won in the end, and Facebook issued an apology after nearly 900 furious people joined an online group calling for the ban to be lifted.
These cases bring up an interesting issue about gender and representation. There seems to be only one prevailing meaning of the female breast — it's "obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit" because that's the way it's represented in our culture. When a woman presents a nonsexual image of breasts, in the context of certain women's issues — motherhood, illness and recovery — there's a refusal to see it from her point of view.
When Facebook told Sharon Adams her mastectomy scars were "abusive," maybe they meant abusive to men who only want to see breasts that turn them on.