Facebook’s Madonna Whore Complex…Explained Via Roundtable

I have been in the business of pregnancy and baby for more than a dozen years. And yes, I have seen a great deal. Brands come and go, trends come and go, enemies du jour come and go  – it is part and parcel of being smack in the  middle of one of the most profound and powerful moments in a woman’s life. But what remains constant is the awe with which we accept the responsibility of bringing life into this planet (no matter what form that takes) – and the incredible feeling of connectivity (to other women as well as to the universe as a whole) a woman experiences as a mother. This bonds us to each other and makes friends of seamless strangers. This is what connects us despite the wide range of our life experience, age, expectation and certainly situation. We are mothers unified by our desire to “figure it out” the best we can as we make our way down a new, unchartered path.

So, it would seem natural then that the rise of Facebook would be a boon for women. Here  was a vibrant open community on which we could collectively see, share and experience the remarkable and new (and often overwhelming) journey of pregnancy, birth and parenthood. Yet, somehow Facebook has decided this is neither the place nor the community for such endeavors. We have all watched as breastfeeding and birth have become high targets on the censor list.  Ask Ciaran Blumenfeld about how we have managed to build a successful Facebook community for Bravado without so much as the use of the world “nipple” (forget a breast image) to keep us safe. And now, this week it seems pregnancy  photography is an issue as well.

Too Much for FB?

Too Much for FB?

I’ve asked some of the best brains in the business for their (very) quick take on the reality of Facebook and mothers. It was my goal to bring together a wide range of voices to help us make sense of this one.  And so meet:

Audrey McClelland- Founder of Mom Generations,  Co-Founder of Getting Gorgeous and other landmark projects connecting women. Mother of  4 active boys  – . www.momgenerations.com

Sarah Evans -Social Media Expert – UNDERSTATEMENT. Sara is excited to be pregnant with her first child. www.sevansstrategy.com

Samantha Ettus – Bestselling author, media personality and personal branding expert. Author of Forbes Personal Branding Blog.  Mother of three beautiful children. www.samanthaettus.com and www.expertsmedia.com

Danielle Friedland - 

Danielle Friedland, mom of 2 breastfed babies. The Social Media Manager for giggle and Healthy Child Healthy World and Editor-in-Chief of Bravado Designs’ Breastfeeding Diaries blog. She created the Celebrity Baby Blog in 2004 which she sold to People.com in 2008. www.bravadodesigns.com

Nicole Feliciano- Founder and Editor of Momtrends.com.  Super savvy and connected Mother of two equally stellar breastfed daughters. www.momtrends.com

Here is what this amazingly well informed and diverse group of Social Media leaders had to say on the question of why images of  pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding – all central themes of  motherhood, are such a challenge to Facebook.

Audrey McClelland -  I have to admit, I was surprised to hear all of this was being censored by Facebook. Pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood is natural… and considering there are over 85 million moms on Facebook, it’s shocking to me that there isn’t a “safe” place to post certain things. I had always viewed Facebook as a place where women can come to connect, meet, share and engage… and I feel like this is stripping us from that.  Truly.  As modern moms, we look for ways to connect digitally because that’s the way people connect nowadays… it’s sad to see Facebook pull away such natural and open and honest images.

 

Sarah-  I’m definitely new to this conversation, so what I’m sharing our preliminary thoughts…I don’t necessarily want to see my friends’ naked body parts on FB, but it is their decision to share.

 

Samantha -  It is only this year that you could add your kids names and ages to your FB page in addition to your spouse. FB has been a late bloomer every step of the way in regard to parenting. In my mind it is a simple explanation – it was originally created for college kids by a college kid so it would be logical then, that the “grownup” categories are coming later, as the founders and the company age. Perhaps now that Randi Zuckerberg  is married, a kid isn’t far behind and in turn, parenting will be a new focus. That is, if they get there before a competitor takes it on.

 

Danielle- Facbeook is not anti-woman — their staff is just not mature. I can’t confirm this but my impression is that Facebook is staffed by recent college graduates who don’t have pregnancy and motherhood in their mindset. They probably see a pregnant woman as fat instead of radiant. They probably see breastfeeding as “gross” instead of natural and nourishing. They have probably never seen a baby breastfeeding in real life nor were they raised thinking that breastfeeding is normal given that the majority of babies born within the last 20-40 years were not breastfed themselves. They just don’t get it. But you know who is? The COO of Facebook is Sheryl Sandberg, a woman who is also a mother. She needs to communicate to Facebook employees that pregnancy, breastfeeding and pride in motherhood is quite normal and in no way obscene. She needs to set policy that respects women and mothers as they are the largest growing population on Facebook.

 

Nicole- As for me, I find navel piercings more challenging than bumps and boobs. I’m sure this phenomenon is all about boys making decisions. Was social network (the movie) sexist? No, they just didn’t involve women that is different from being anti-woman.

The more companies we start the more conversations we steer.

And so with these insights comes more questions. And too, an opportunity to ask – what do you think?