For Rupi Kaur, a college photography project turned into a social cause when images from her visual series about menstruation were censored online. Dazed reports that Instagram removed the above image without explanation — twice. Ironically, the Canadian poet’s art project was an attempt to “demystify the stigmas” around periods and to “see how different medias would embrace/reject it.”
“I felt very upset because at this point it wasn’t just a project for my school course anymore, it felt like a personal attack on my humanity,” she told Dazed. ” But I didn’t complain to them directly. I posted the photo again because I wanted my audience to know what kind of censorship was happening here. And so I immediately posted again that same night, and again it was removed the following morning.”
Her initial posts were reportedly met with misogynist comments as well. Kaur then took to Facebook, which owns Instagram, to voice her frustrations. Facebook, interestingly enough, didn’t censor the image there, and her post received over 12,000 shares.
She shared the photo on Instagram, again, with this caption:
thank you @instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. you deleted a photo of a woman who is fully covered and menstruating stating that it goes against community guidelines when your guidelines outline that it is nothing but acceptable. the girl is fully clothed. the photo is mine. it is not attacking a certain group. nor is it spam. and because it does not break those guidelines i will repost it again. i will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. when your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified. pornified. and treated less than human. thank you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀
this image is a part of my photoseries project for my visual rhetoric course. you can view the full series at rupikaur.com
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i bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. my womb is home to the divine. a source of life for our species. whether i choose to create or not. but very few times it is seen that way. in older civilizations this blood was considered holy. in some it still is. but a majority of people. societies. and communities shun this natural process. some are more comfortable with the pornification of women. the sexualization of women. the violence and degradation of women than this. they cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that. but will be angered and bothered by this. we menstruate and they see it as dirty. attention seeking. sick. a burden. as if this process is less natural than breathing. as if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. as if this process is not love. labour. life. selfless and strikingly beautiful.
After the attention, Instagram apologized: “A member of our team accidentally removed something you posted on Instagram. This was a mistake, and we sincerely apologise for this error.”