There are certain things guaranteed to happen if you have a baby. You'll need to take time off work to look after it. You probably won't get much sleep. And you'll undoubtedly take photos of your sweet little cherub and upload them to Facebook.
All. The. Time.
Earlier this year, Enedina Vance from Ohio uploaded a photo of her 6-month-old daughter to her Facebook page. The baby is smiling widely, wearing a pink headband, and in one of her pudgy cheeks... a diamond stud. Not something you see in your regular new-and-proud parent posts.
"So I got the baby girl's dimple pierced!!" began the caption accompanying the photo. "It looks so cute, right?!! I just know she's gonna love it!! She'll thank me when she's older lol if she decides she doesn't like it, she can just take it out, no big deal".
"I'm the parent, she is MY CHILD, I will do whatever I want!! I make all of her decisions until she's 18, I made her, I own her!! I don't need anyone's permission, I think it's better, cuter, & I prefer her to have her dimple pierced. Its NOT abuse!! If it was, it would be illegal, but it's not. People pierce their babies everyday, this is no different.
"MY BABY, MY CHOICE!! PARENT'S CHOICE, PARENT'S RIGHTS!! Don't judge my parenting, we all raise our kids differently, it's none of your business anyway!!"
It sparked a lot of outrage, with many people shocked that a mother was bragging about a facial piercing she imposed on her very young daughter. Vance revealed that she started receiving death threats and messages from people saying they would take her children away.
But it seems these people didn't read the entire caption. At the bottom of the post was a group of hashtags that indicate the whole thing was not meant in earnest: #BodilyIntegrity, #MyBodyMyChoice, #HumanRights, #ChildrensRights, #Intactivism, #IntactGeneration and then tellingly, #sarcasm.
And sure enough, it was later revealed at the baby's piercing was in fact photoshopped. Vance is a mother of six who strongly advocates against piercing or circumcising children. She believes that parents should not modify their children's bodies before they're old enough to give consent.
“I seriously can not believe how many people missed that this was purely satirical, I actually used the hashtag #sarcasm,” Vance wrote on Facebook. “Yet people were still threatening to beat me to death, call child protective services, & take away my children.”
She photoshopped the cheek piercing onto the baby with the intention of starting a conversation about it, and judging by reactions to the controversial image – she did just that. The post which was first shared in late June went viral, racking up over 14,000 shares and more than 160 comments.
Many people applauded Vance for what her post initiated:
Others joined in on the sarcastic speech:
Some didn't quite get the post:
Others – presumably the target group for Vance – chirped the same rhetoric that Vance used sarcastically in her post:
And some people pointed out how easily triggered some people can be that they miss the point:
"Not only has this sparked a debate, but it has created a dialogue that demands we reevaluate our role as parents. We as a society have a responsibility to protect our most vulnerable gifts, our children," she wrote in a later post on Facebook, addressing the attention the photo got. She raises a few of her key beliefs about children's rights in relation to circumcision, the medical community, and governmental, and concludes with this:
"We must open our eyes & our hearts to acknowledge the fact that our children are human beings with rights that deserve to be respected & protected. No one has the right to alter, modify, or mutilate another human being's body for aesthetic purposes."
However strong her beliefs are and in whatever way they resonate with the community at large, it must be given to Vance that she was able to create such monumental discussion about a topic that is otherwise seldom spoken about.