Woman's Period Photo Banned & We're Bloody Sick of Your Hangups With Our Bodies​

period bloodLast year after a bike accident I posted a photo of my bloodied knee on Instagram. Nothing happened. But when Rupi Kaur posted a photo of her menstrual blood Instagram banned it in short order. What's the big deal? Why is period blood so much more offensive than any other kind of blood?

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Kaur posted the image of herself as part of a Tumblr photo series depicting her and her sister's menstrual cycles. 

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. â ï¿½â ï¿½â ï¿½â ï¿½â ï¿½â ï¿½ â ï¿½ â ï¿½â ï¿½â ï¿½â ï¿½ â ï¿½â ï¿½â ï¿½â ï¿½ â ï¿½ â ï¿½â ï¿½â ï¿½ â ï¿½ this image is a part of my photoseries project for my visual rhetoric course. you can view the full series at rupikaur.com â ï¿½â ï¿½â ï¿½ â ï¿½â ï¿½â ï¿½â ï¿½ â ï¿½ 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.

A photo posted by Rupi Kaur (@rupikaur_) on

This is a familiar sight for many of us. You go to bed thinking you have enough protection -- or not suspecting that your period is about to happen -- and surprise! You leak blood on your pajamas and sheets. It's something almost every adult female has seen, several time. It's something many husbands and boyfriends have seen as well.

More from The Stir: 13 Period Disasters & How to Handle Them

Anyway, Instagram took it down, Kaur put it back up, Instagram took it down again, referring her to its community guidelines (which don't specify menstrual blood, actually). And then, a day later, Instagram reversed its decision, allowed Kaur's photo back on the site, and sent her an apology via email.

Meanwhile, Kaur's struggle had started a conversation. Why is menstrual blood still so offensive? Why are we so horrified by it? How is period blood different from any other kind of blood, really?

Actually, it's quite different. Menstrual fluid consists of blood, but also shed uterine lining, cervical mucus, and vaginal fluids. That said, it's no more dangerous than ordinary blood. Either can transmit diseases, or stain your sheets.

Periods don't have to be gross, though. Wouldn't it be nice if we stopped thinking they are?

The shame and horror we attach to period blood is way out of proportion. I think it's largely because it comes from a sexual organ, and because it's a defining mark of difference between men and women.

But beyond that, think about the shame we feel when it "escapes" -- when we accidentally leak. It's evidence that our bodies are out of control. And if there's anything our culture cares about, it's controlling women's bodies. It's been that way for tens of thousands of years. We have the power to create life, and that's terrifying. We must hide that power from the world.

I've gotten so sick of the taboo I've been ignoring it the past few years. I've been admitting when I leak, laughing about it. I'm trying to stop apologizing for it. I dare myself to say, calmly, "I'm having my period," like it's no big deal. What's a little shed uterine lining? Just a bit of stardust, some discarded building blocks. 

Good for Kaur for insisting it be brought out into the light.

How do you feel when you're caught leaking menstrual blood, even by family members?

 

Image via Picsfive/Shutterstock

 

 

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