Last year, you were hard at work as the world's largest social networking site. You have created a space for people to communicate, waste time playing mindless games, raise money for important causes, become the recipient of endless marketing scams, connect with long lost friends and loved ones, and send one another virtual gifts such as flowers, drinks, even sets of voluptuous female breasts.
While you were entertaining the virtual masses, I (along with millions of other women around the world!) was busy creating and nourishing human life. Not just one life, but two. That's right, Facebook. I grew two tiny people inside my womb, birthed them, almost died in the process, and then set my own needs aside to carry out the grave responsibility of sustaining those lives by creating nutritionally perfect food within my body and feeding it to them using my (GASP!) breasts. That's right, Facebook. I had twins and breastfed. In fact, I'm still breastfeeding. Isn't that amazing? I think it is. The World Health Organization (WHO) agrees with me. This is what the WHO has to say about breastfeeding:
Over the past decades, evidence for the health advantages of breastfeeding and recommendations for practice have continued to increase. WHO can now say with full confidence that breastfeeding reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood. On a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is the recommended way of feeding infants, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.
To enable mothers to establish and sustain exclusive breastfeeding for six months, WHO and UNICEF recommend:
Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life;
Exclusive breastfeeding - that is, the infant only receives breast milk without any additional food or drink, not even water;
Breastfeeding on demand - that is, as often as the child wants, day and night;
No use of bottles, teats or pacifiers.
Breast milk is the natural first food for babies, it provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life.
Breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development, and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea or pneumonia, and helps for a quicker recovery during illness.
Breastfeeding contributes to the health and well-being of mothers, it helps to space children, reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, increases family and national resources, is a secure way of feeding and is safe for the environment.
While breastfeeding is a natural act, it is also a learned behaviour. An extensive body of research has demonstrated that mothers and other caregivers require active support for establishing and sustaining appropriate breastfeeding practices.
Did you know that, Facebook?
And here's what I have to say about breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding mothers are responsible for the continuation of humanity. It is because of women who breastfeed that YOU, yes YOU, are alive today. Even if your mother did not breastfeed. Even if her mother did not breastfeed. And even if hers didn't. At some point in history, millions of women made the beautiful and giving decision to breastfeed so that humankind could continue. Women who breastfeed are heroes.
Did you know that, Facebook?
Did you know that breastfeeding is really hard? That it can be quite painful to have a small being suck on your flesh for hours each day? That overcoming the social stigma in patriarchal countries like the United States is a brave and admirable act? For some silly reason, millions of women have been taught that our biggest value comes from our sexuality. Isn't that weird? Considering that women have the ability to create, birth, and sustain life, it seems awfully skewed that we would be systematically taught to believe that we are worthless unless we are beautiful and highly sexualized. But you see, Facebook, that's exactly what patriarchy does. It marginalizes the contributions of women. How shameful. How ignorant. How embarrassing.
Remember how humanity continues because of women?
Why am I sending this to you, Facebook?
Last week, I posted a picture of myself breastfeeding my newborn twins using my Facebook account. I posted this picture to a pro-breastfeeding fan page, to help encourage other mothers. My picture was one of thousands uploaded to the page. What a beautiful site. All of these experienced breastfeeding women, supporting each other. Helping to say, "breastfeeding is normal!" "Breastfeeding is beautiful!" It really is an amazing page.
But you took that picture down. You took hundreds of pictures down. You told me my picture is offensive. Inappropriate for children.
You know what I find offensive? The "Big Boobs" application that lets users send each other cartoon drawings of over-sexualized breasts. And the many "boobs" fan pages created by ignorant minded people who devalue women and their beautiful and amazing abilities. And the YoVille advertisement that assures me that I can look fantastic in my virtual bikini this year even if my real bikini looks terrible. And the many females showing ample cleavage in thousands of pictures where they're too drunk to know better. Facebook, I could go on and on.
Facebook, you're powerful. You have over 400 million users around the globe. Is this how you choose to hold this power? Are you afraid to take a stand against the oppression of women? Do you really devalue women this much? Do strong women make you feel threatened?
Or are you better than that? Braver?
I spent this last year putting forth every effort of my being to make this world a better place. I contributed two beautiful children. My first and last priority in life is helping them become amazing and happy people in every way I know how.
And so, Facebook, I wonder. I really wonder. What did you do last year?