Instagram's banning of this photograph is patriarchal nonsense

Mar 27, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Image: Rupi Kaur/Instagram

A student from University of Waterloo posted a photograph on Instagram for a project on rhetoric. When Instagram removed it, it proved the very point she was trying to make with her theme.

Rupi Kaur image

Image Credit: Rupi Kaur/Instagram

When Instagram removed the image, Rupi posted: 

"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 re-post it. I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of a 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 of whom 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"

She then continued:

"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 is it 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, 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."

We have seen this before on Instagram, where it has banned photos of women with mastectomy scars, women breastfeeding, even little kids showing no nudity while potty training, while many users have posted content that is not only objectionable but also illegal. Violence against women is tolerated, full nudity (of "attractive" celebrities) is fine, and yet an image of a fully clothed woman with a menstruation stain is "offensive." Instagram has since allowed Rupi to repost her photo, but why was it removed in the first place when so much truly objectionable content is allowed?

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