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Breasts: They’re Not Just There to Titillate

"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,

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.


Join The Conversation
Girl101 Girl101 7 years
Its a sad reflection on our society that something educational and not sexual has to be band due to the deviants out there. It seems on models who have perfect bodies (even if they are made with silicon and air brushes) can dare to bare their breast. The rest of us who are less than perfect can't be exposed or educated for fear we might offend someone.
staple-salad staple-salad 8 years
I think boobies need a degree of de-sexualization. Just not to the point where boobs are no longer sexy, but to the point where people can be mature enough to see a boob and NOT freak out. I'm a straight woman. I love boobs. I think they are fun to play with, look at, and learn about. Everyone that knows this about me accuses me of being a lesbian. Which isn't true. I just think boobs are awesome in a completely non-sexual manner and the only ones I want to play with are my own (because they are squishy! Funbags for a reason!). Boobies aren't just sexual, they are awesome lumps of fat and glands. (yes, I like calling them boobies, breasts sounds to medical, imo, and "boobies" is fun to say).
Katypaty Katypaty 8 years
Scary? No, what's scarier is actually having cancer. My mum has breast cancer for the second time in twelve months but still has both breasts. However, many times she's said if it meant she'd survive, she'd get a mastectomy, and she would NOT be ashamed. No, the picture is supposed to be scary for a reason; to make you think and check. To save your own life. Scary sh*t right there, right? Yes graphic. It's a boob. What's not graphic about that. :facepalm: We women normally see two boobs everyday, ohhh we're graphic pornstars. This woman, going through the struggle of her life, only has one boob left, and is having the other removed to survive. What's happened to perspective, respect, and common sense and decency...
Love-and-Sex Love-and-Sex 8 years
Hey all, I did warn you: "The picture is graphic, scary..."
soapbox soapbox 8 years
Facebook's response was just stupid. There are tons of sexual pics of girls on facebook. You don't even have to look to hard for them. And half the time, the girls showing their goods are like 13! Kudos to Sharon though! Such a brave move.
dm8bri dm8bri 8 years
What about all of the scantily-clad, wanna-be porn stars posting their pics all over facebook? I'd much rather see a mastectomy scar than those hookers.
brittanyk brittanyk 8 years
I just looked at her pictures. They're in no way sexual. I've seen tons of more suggestive pictures with clothes on Facebook. She was obviously trying to raise awareness for her cause. I don't think these violate Facebook's terms. It's just a really ridiculous situation.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I'm with the commenter who suggested a warning that the content is graphic. Although, at the same time, there's a part of me that thinks facebook isn't the platform for this, period.
KimBurnett KimBurnett 8 years
Hugs to you, Pistil, right back.
Pistil Pistil 8 years
Kim, I could hug you.
KimBurnett KimBurnett 8 years
"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." This is true, and in effect, abusive of women. I'm so mad and tired of breasts being defined by size and men's oedipal complex/mother adolescent mind-set. And all the women that fall for it and "alter" themselves. This culture wears me out.
danni2009 danni2009 8 years
I don't think Facebook were right to delete the pictures but I think the user could put a warning on them as they are quite graphic. This picture is not in the slightest bit sexual, friends of friends on my Facebook have properly sexual pictures on theirs, in just their pants, boobs out, posing seductively-THAT is sexual.
smaine07 smaine07 8 years
I just think I shouldn't have looked at the picture. I am sick now... I don't do well with stuff like that...
Symphonee Symphonee 8 years
She was trying to shed light on a real life event that could possibly be prevented. Please get over it.
Pistil Pistil 8 years
That's heartbreaking. There are plenty of fairly sexually explicit photos of young women (the parties, the attention-whores, I know some of them...) on Facebook, and I don't think this deserves to be labeled as such. I don't know what we're protecting ourselves from.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
Wow, I'm surprised Facebook did that. Its not like we're looking at nipples. I applaude this woman though. Not enough women check their breasts, and too many women fall victim to cancer because they don't want to spend a few seconds doing something a little "uncomfortable." I check mine every month or so to make sure there are no odd lumps or bumps and that everythings ok with my body. It's like getting a mole checked at the doctors office.
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