Instagram in Hot Water for Censoring a Photo of a Fully Clothed Woman on Her Period

Mar 28, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

Instagram in Hot Water for Censoring a Photo of a Fully Clothed Woman on Her Period

Mar 28, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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Source: Facebook/Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur, a poetess & spoken word performer as she calls herself, was at the center of a recent social media storm after she posted a photo of woman lying in bed with period blood visible on the sheets and the woman’s pants.

The photo is part of a series created by Kaur as part of her final project for a visual rhetoric course she’s taking, aimed at demystifying the period and making it “normal” again.

Sure, this isn’t a subject you see photographed or posted online very often, but what caused the outraged responses was Instagram’s reaction to the photo. The mobile photo-sharing social network deleted the photo stating it was in violation of the community guidelines. When Kaur re-uploaded the photo, and Instagram once again deleted it, the artist lashed out against the “misogynist” decision.

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Source: Instagram/Rupi Kaur

Stating that Instagram’s problematic decision is exactly the kind of behavior her work criticizes, Kaur shared the “violating” photo along with the following message on her Facebook page:

“thank you Instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. you deleted my photo twice stating that it goes against community guidelines. 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. ⠀⠀

as a part of my final project for my visual rhetoric course i created this image along with a full set which you can view at www.rupikaur.com to demystify the period and make something that is innate “normal” again cause rape categories in porn are okay. objectification and sexualization is okay. people getting off on naked underage women. bondage. torture. humiliation. abuse is okay but this makes them uncomfortable. that’s what this work is supposed to do. make you as uncomfortable as you should feel when you watch others get abused and objectified. ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀
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This just goes to show who is sitting behind the desk. And whose controlling the show. Whose controlling the media and who is censoring us.

Some women aren’t allowed in their religious place of worship. Out of their homes. To do certain things. And are told they are sick. As if the period is a common cold. Yes. This is here in North America. I have been hospitalized many times because of issues associated with my period. I have been suffering from a sickness related to my period. And ever since I have been working so hard to love it. Embrace it. Celebrate it. Even thought it’s given me so much pain in the past few years. and they want to tell me I should be quiet about this. That all of this we experience collectively does not need to be seen. Just felt secretly behind closed doors. That’s why this is important. Because when I first got my period my mother was sad and worried. And they want to censor all that pain. Experience. Learning. No.

Their patriarchy is leaking.

Their misogyny is leaking.

We will not be censored.
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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.”

I came across this message thanks to a friend who shared it, and I knew immediately there’s a story worth sharing here. Apparently over 110,000 people on Facebook and Instagram who liked Kaur’s protest agree, in addition to the 15,000 who shared it as well.

While I’m guessing it was the enormous support Kaur received and the thousands of messages attacking Instagram that led to the decision to restore the photo, the social media claimed it was removed by mistake and sent Kaur an apology.

The message stated that the delete photo has been restored, but failed to explain how it got deleted, twice, by mistake.

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Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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10 responses to “Instagram in Hot Water for Censoring a Photo of a Fully Clothed Woman on Her Period”

  1. Joe Spowal Jr. Avatar
    Joe Spowal Jr.

    Don’t blame them one bit…..not everything in life has to be posted on the net for the world to see. I’m sure no one wants to see a picture of someone’s poop in a toilet….

    1. Beth B. Avatar
      Beth B.

      Nothing HAS to be posted on the net at all, but fortunately you are not tasked with making that decision. You may be “sure no one wants to see a picture of someone’s poop”, but 90 tin cans from Piero Manzoni (not to mention millions of fetish videos) prove you factually wrong in that assumption.

    2. CJ Jacobs Avatar
      CJ Jacobs

      I couldn’t agree with you any more vehemently than I do. I’m normally all for freedom of artistic expression but this photo is in bad taste.

  2. Victoria Marchant Avatar
    Victoria Marchant

    An image not being to everyone’s tastes doesn’t warrant censorship. It’s not violent, or pornographic, or even particularly graphic.

  3. udi tirosh Avatar
    udi tirosh

    now that instagram is owned by facebook i guess they align to their double-standardness

  4. Nick Dunlap Avatar
    Nick Dunlap

    Bodily fluid censorship makes perfect sense

  5. Christopher Yule Avatar
    Christopher Yule

    They are in hot water because they don’t censor men who are bleeding etc

  6. Kuster Fernando Avatar
    Kuster Fernando

    So someone crying should be censored by the tears?

  7. Lyle Avatar
    Lyle

    The photo is not in bad taste at all, it depicts a normal part of life. There is no reason it should be hidden away.

  8. luis Avatar
    luis

    for the sensible ones…I suggest you go see some of the Oliviero Toscani Benetton advertisments.. those will strike your hearts!
    We are owerflowed by scenes of wars, shootings, torture, and alike.. and nobody says “it’s bad taste”… or..”bodily fluid censorship makes perfect sense”