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Censorship and Social Networks – violence is in. Nipples are out!

October 19th, 2012 · 6 Comments

“Censorship of images of women’s breasts reflects repression that foments body shame and phobia. It demeans women especially. Three bad consequences are body dysmorphic disorder, women’s reduced engagement in comprehensive breast health, and the harassment of women breastfeeding in public. America has yet to learn that women’s breasts belong to their bearers, not to men.”

Dr. Paul Rapoport, founder of The Topfree Equal Rights Association at http://tera.ca -

By Ane Howard and Darrah Le Montre San Francisco/New York (Hollywood Today) October 19, 2012 – The latest media frenzy over Kate Middleton’s topless photos may seem like innocent, entertaining news. But, in fact, it reflects a much deeper — and at times, both ambiguous and childish — relationship our culture has with the human body. At the forefront of this debate on the social Web is the Young Naturists & Nudists America (YNA) organization. With over 100,000 followers nationwide, it is particularly feeling the burn that comes with censorship over nudity. Both Facebook and Google+ have forcibly removed innocent pictures of body painting and lock their accounts without as much as a warning.

Felicity’s Nudist Blog

The Young Naturists & Nudists America is part of a worldwide movement that espouses a lifestyle of accepting people for who they are rather than what they do or how they look. Evolving from the naturist movement, its no surprise that they use a unique and simple, but extremely effective approach to craft their message- nudity. A YNA spokesman told Hollywood Today, “It makes a concerted effort to not sexualize the lifestyle and to associate it with good acceptance. We believe in acceptance of all people regardless of race, gender and religion and wish to impact the world in a positive fashion.”  YNA told Hollywood Today that the International Naturist Federation has just over 4.5 million members worldwide Wikipedia defines naturists as “a cultural and political movement practicing, advocating and defending social nudity in private and in public.” With innocent photos of naked body painting contests, why is it that YNA organization has been branded pornographers? The issue is made particularly confusing since even the stance and definition of nudity are not clear. Felicity from Felicity’s Blog said, “When Google sent us an email saying we were banned, they said it was because we had “pornography or sexually explicit” content on our pages. Not for nudity, which is all we had on there. Moreover, when nudity is mentioned, these networks never even define what ‘nudity’ is.” One can only conclude from the censorship imposed that neither Facebook nor Google+ can make the distinction between porn and an artistic or innocent nude. Interestingly enough, these sites rarely censor depictions of violent acts, even though one of the textbook definitions of pornography is “the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.” How is that different from depictions of violence? It appears that the social web is more comfortable with hunting and killing than bare bottoms and breastfeeding. But the confusion doesn’t end with nudists and naturists and Kate Middleton’s nipples. This ambivalence over the human body is demonstrated with the continuing censorship over a nipple here and there that has been reported on various social networks with no clear indications of how and who decides what is to stay and what is to be deemed pornographic.  Let’s face it: on one hand the Internet is porn. It is reported by TopTenReviews  that every second, 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography. On the other hand, the social web stigmatizes not just women’s bodies… but the human body in general. Even children’s bodies. Case in point, Stephane Deschenes, owner of Bare Oaks Naturist Park in Toronto, is no stranger to censorship on Facebook and Google. He told Hollywood Today, “I’ve had issues but I’ve never been banned. I’ve had posts deleted or blocked. My complaint is that they are using standards that exceed societal norms.  For example, you can see full nudity on the streets of Toronto during the world naked bike ride. So if you can see them on the street, then it should be OK on Facebook or Google+,” he reasoned. “Their answer will be that they need to meet a broader standard because they are international,” he speculates. “If that’s true, then they shouldn’t allow any photos of women in skimpy outfits since that is offensive in the Middle East,” Deschenes said. Another issue with censorship on social networks is the lack of consistency and clear policy. Deschenes added, “Last summer, Google prevented me from running an ad with the picture of a seemingly naked infant tapping on a chair. How is that in any way inappropriate?” Deschenes never obtained an answer from Google regarding its decision to block his ad. Artistic nudes are out but violence is in. Stirring some hypocrisy into the mix, Facebook allows an exploitive page called “12 year old Sluts” to prevail, untouched. This page bullies minors by creating memes using their actual photos, along with radical assumptions and negative stereotypes about their sexual choices. Then, it allows the general public to judge them in the comments section. This page has been labeled as “Controversial Humor” by Facebook, and thus gets away with threatening the lives of underage girls and young women. Distinctions between artistic nudity and scandalous — sometimes illegal — exploitation of minors and women needs to be found. And soon. Just look at the tragedy surrounding 15-year-old Amanda Todd’s suicide. She encountered radical cyber-stalking by a pedophile and sexual predator, then was bullied by her fellow classmates, over a photo of her bare breasts (which the predator spread all over Facebook and used in a fake profile he created, pretending to be her) that Todd took her own life. It seems odd that Facebook would allow this type of thing to pervade their community, turning a blind eye to something so horrendous as a “12 year old Sluts” page, yet spend their time and energy censoring good citizens’ harmless creative expression. The censorship is point-blank applied randomly and senselessly. Michele Kamenar, a professional copywriter and a creative consultant with prominent clients shared with Hollywood Today that while she usually uses her company Facebook page for posting about writing and design-related topics, her personal Facebook page “is more of a reflection of my own personality and personal brand.” And, on any given week, she posts on a variety of things that range from “a Bukowski quote, to abstract art, to music to boudoir photography,” Kamenar said. Michele was posting without incident until she posted a series of photographs by internationally acclaimed photographer, Helmut Newton  onto her Facebook wall. Newton’s photographs can be seen at various museums around the world. Michele  said, “The gallery was up for about a week and received many positive comments. One day, I got a notice from Facebook telling me that several of the images had been reported to them as ‘obscene’ and were removed by them as part of their ‘policy’ on obscenity. Mind you, none of the aforementioned images contained ANY full frontal nudity, but they were very sexualized from the standpoint that they implied sexuality,” Kamenar explained. (See the images in question, below.) Then, there was the forcibly removed picture of a woman on a beach, shot by a friend of Michele’s and posted on Michele’s Facebook page. The picture “showed a nude woman kneeling on a beach with her bottom shown as sandy,” Michele said. “Sexy? Yes. Gratuitous? No. That too was removed and I was ‘warned.’” Jeff Michaels, the admin of a Facebook fan page called “Heavenly Redheads” encountered similar censorship. Michaels explains, “I list my page on Facebook as being for 18 years and over. I posted a beautiful picture — artistic in nature, not pornographic.” The picture  Michaels posted was of a woman who was “naked, but laying on her belly on a bed. The focus of the picture was her face. In the background, and slightly blurred, was her bare posterior. “If you ‘like’ a picture on Facebook, it will show up in the Timeline of your friends. Someone reported the picture as pornographic or containing nudity. I was banned for 24 hours. I wasn’t able to post comments, status updates (even by text), photos or videos. This affected not only the fan page, but my personal account as well (they are linked). Facebook removed the picture automatically,” Michaels recounted. Many who are victimized by this kind of censorship, cite their source of irritation in Facebook’s lack of clarity and refusal to define exactly what they identify as obscene. This fogginess leaves users frustrated, confused, creatively limited, and feeling like a random target. “The biggest problem I have with this ban,” Michaels continues, “is that I have since found numerous examples of similar pictures with bare posteriors that are still available. I have seen pictures with semen, but no nudity, being posted and not banned and also pictures of extreme violence. The other major issue I have is that Facebook does not provide clear cut examples of the types of content that they deem ‘unacceptable’.” Kamenar agrees, “I have seen very similar images to the ones I have posted, left untouched on other people’s pages.” A solution suggested by both Michele Kamenar and Felicity would be to create a “Mature” section that would allow visual artists and enthusiasts of the naturist lifestyle to post their images without fear of reprisals. It’s sad that the human body needs to be segregated and labeled “adult” content, but as Felicity pointed out during our interview, the “problem runs a lot deeper than the lack of a filtering mechanism being put in place. “ It seems that fifty years after the onset of the sexual revolution, we still stigmatize the human body. Facebook, Google+ and any other social networks  are simply a mirror of our ambiguity toward the nude body and any artistic expressions that use it as a muse. main image:source: “Heavenly Redheads” blog

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 William Frawley // Oct 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    This article raises a valid point that honestly can be applied to a broad spectrum but has a significant underlying common theme. Too often the red herring of “decency” is used to mask antiquated and ignorant fears ingrained by a classical education. For whom is this content indecent? Through the power of anonymity and stupid people in large groups, the Internet has become a breeding ground of hate and closed minded ideologues fighting for the even more vague greater good. Regardless, the common underlying theme is money. Through the non specific excuse of liability, whether perceived or real, the threat of financial consequences has become the forefront of business models with advertisers and sponsors pulling over anything even remotely minor. We will continue to like these pages and the ideas and concepts of our decent reality will continue to flow.

  • 2 All-Nudist » Nuggets! // Oct 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    [...] Censorship and Social Networks – violence is in. Nipples are out! [...]

  • 3 Censorship and Social Networks: What's the measuring stick for obscenity? | The Lucid Word // Oct 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    [...] I know how inconsistent this measuring stick actually IS because I was a victim of social media censorship myself not so long ago. My personal experience with social networking censorship was recently covered in an article on HollywoodToday.net entitled, “Censorship and Social Networks – violence is in. Nipples are out!” [...]

  • 4 jose antonio lam // Oct 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    hola, exelente arte sobre su cuerpo, la belleza fisica esta en todos y el arte sobre el mismo hace mas profunda la belleza interna

  • 5 M // Oct 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Facebook has the mentality of a neglected 11-year-old boy. Naked people are “icky”,but the more violence,swear words,bullying and blood,the better. Y’know,MySpace made the adjustment years ago,they had ’18+ only” pages with non-sexual nudity. WHY did we switch?

  • 6 All-Nudist » Nudist Nuggets Archives – Earlier Postings // Dec 10, 2012 at 11:49 am

    [...] Censorship and Social Networks – violence is in. Nipples are out! [...]

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