Censored bodies

A sexual taboo now surrounds words like "vagina" and "breasts". My generation has trouble even saying these words aloud.

Recently, I was on an American Airlines flight watching an episode of Parks and Recreation and the aforementioned words were censored.

Censorship is a way of protecting the public from words and images that can cause harm. However, words like "vagina" and "breasts" represent body parts — they aren’t verbal weapons, inappropriate
or vulgar.

The same week as my flight, a photo of a breastfeeding toddler and his mother was removed from Facebook for violating the website’s policies. The group where the photo was posted — Breastfeeding Mama Talk — was subsequently banned for 24 hours.

When an influential social platform like Facebook allows for groups and photos that encourage the objectification of women’s bodies and discourage a positive and educational understanding of them, there is no question that perceptions of women and sexuality will be affected.

An open letter to Facebook, published by holistic parenting website MotherWise on March 11, questioned the double standard. The letter pointed out that Facebook removes pictures of breastfeeding mothers and educational diagrams of the vagina but allows groups like “Let’s Expose These Hoes” and “Big Boobs and Sex” to remain.

A clear message is being sent here, that it’s unacceptable to look upon women’s bodies in terms of female empowerment and education. If a photo or its context doesn’t tend to male sexual desire or fantasy, it’s inappropriate.

This concept is nothing new, but in an age coloured by feminism and sexual freedom, this ideology is obviously backwards.

Our censorship of body parts has created a damaging over-sexualization of the female body. The breast is no longer a breast — it’s now, in all contexts, pornographic.

Facebook should not be marking the female body as pornographic. Censoring breastfeeding and educational diagrams while allowing overtly misogynist content sends the wrong signal to its
many users.

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