Does This Twitter Avatar Offend You?

In a Twitter version of the Time cover controversy, a mom is getting flak for using a picture of herself breastfeeding as her avatar.

The above is the avatar of Arwyn, who tweets as @RaisingBoychick. On her blog, also called Raising My Boychick, she describes herself as “a walking contradiction: knitting feminist fulltime parent, Wiccan science-minded woowoo massage student therapist!, queer-identified male-partnered monogamist, body-loving healthy-eating fat chick, unmedicated mostly-stable bipolar.” She also writes that she practices many aspects of attachment parenting, including co-sleeping, elimination communication (in which parents teach children to communicate when they need to go to the bathroom, often without the use of diapers), and yes, extended breastfeeding. The baby above is Arwyn’s daughter, whom she calls “Vulva Baby,” but her now-five-year-old son (Boychick) was, she says, a “breastfed toddler.”

Arwyn’s avatar arguably has less shock value than Time’s instantly-infamous breastfeeding cover. But it did inspire some Twitter wrath, kicked off by user @juliewashere88:

Julie is in some ways Arwyn’s opposite. On her blog, the Hiking Humanist, she writes, “Instead of child-proofing our home, as some young couples do, we decided to childproof ourselves. As my BF and I are both happily Childfree, I had a tubal ligation, coincidentally, on World Population Day. Getting fixed is no easy task at 22 when you have no kids.” Soon after her criticism, others piled on:

Neither Arwyn nor Julie have yet responded to our request for comment, and it’s not clear whether Arwyn’s avatar actually violates Twitter’s terms of service — they prohibit “obscene or pornographic images in either your profile picture or user background,” but have not yet responded to our question about whether breastfeeding constitutes obscenity. Some users, though, have jumped to Arwyn’s defense:

Like the Time cover, today’s Twitter argument illustrated that if you want to get people riled up, discussing breastfeeding is a great way to do it. Though one guy did manage to keep a sense of humor:

Update: Asked to comment on the discussion around her avatar, Arwyn responded via Twitter: “For the record, there was no discussion. [Julie] trolled me with anti-breastfeeding bigotry, I blocked and then had fun with my friends, both moms and childfree.” Julie, also via Twitter, wrote “‘discussion’ seems generous. The echange going on is ‘moms are special’ and ‘no theyre not.’”

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