This photo was removed by instagram. The owner writes a powerful open letter in response | Welcome to Linda Ikeji's Blog

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Friday, 27 March 2015

This photo was removed by instagram. The owner writes a powerful open letter in response

Indian student Rupi Kaur, a Sikh poet studying at the University of Waterloo, Canada, posted an image which is a part of her photo-series project for a visual rhetoric course on Instagram. It was subsequently taken down by Instagram citing violation of the 'Community Guidelines'. That's the pic above.

Looking at the photo, you will understand why it was taken down. The patch of menstrual blood on the sheets and the sweats were probably not to their taste. However, Rupi decided to re-post the photo and wrote a powerful open letter. Read that after the cut...



 "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 rupikaur.com

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."

Instagram once again took down the photo


The poet then wrote on Tumblr :

"Dear tumblr family,
Instagram has chosen to once again, take down this image for violating community guidelines. Despite the fact that about 95% of comments were beautiful. And in support.

This just goes to show who is sitting behind the desk. And who's controlling the show, who's controlling the media and who's censoring us.  

It’s sad that this is still happening in this world. I know that some communities and cultures go out of their way to shun and oppress a woman on her period. I guess Instagram is another one of them.

Some women aren’t allowed in their religious place of worship or out of their homes to do certain things. And are told they are sick. As if the period is a common cold. 


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.

I am going to share the photo again once I figure out how to go about it. I would appreciate if you could @instagram and express your thoughts. Or even share the photo on whatever social media platform.

Their patriarchy is leaking. Their misogyny is leaking. We will not be censored." 

Source: Rupi Kaur/Scoopwhoop.com

243 comments:

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yawanow said...

YEA YEA ITSS A GORY SIGHT BUT I SHARE HER DEEP SENSE OF UNDERSTANDING AND CONCERN FOR THE FEMINIST. BEFORE YOU CONDEMN THINK ABOUT THE DISCRIMINATION THAT COMES WITH IT ESP RELIGIOUS , WORK EVEN RELATIONSHIPS.
THUMBS UP TO HER. BOLD AND ONE OF A KIND

Anonymous said...

And for you so-called 'Aunty Gweegwegwe' or whatever the fuck you call yourself, you must suck dicks for breakfast lunch and dinner and late night snack for you to assume that every woman does it too. All of you suffer head posting insult comments on this blog for money will continue to be sufferhead. Idiots!!!

Anonymous said...

The first question I would like to ask her is, could her message which carries enough wording and empowerment be demonstrated in another way? For instance the use of a picture that implies a period? Say an un used pad or even with just the pic with the hot water bottle. Do we have to post everything on social media? Where is the line? This is not equate nudity and I don't think argument surrounding nudity on social media should be used as a justification. In my own opinion none of them belong on social media!!

zilla9ja said...

Guys pls everybody is entitled to his/her opinion. This is a great article but that doesn't make it right. One quick questio "is it right to post a picture of a hard on guys do have in the morning fully clothed since it's a natural phenomenon"? I guess not. She made some hard points I won't take that away from her. Nudity is wrong as well, but we have medical textbooks and other books and sites for stuffs like this. And we have porn sites and mags for nudity but due to our decayed society everything has lost its place. This is my humble opinion and pls kindly say urs without cursing. We learn everyday. Thanks

beauty said...

Highly uncalled for

zilla9ja said...

Guys pls everybody is entitled to his/her opinion. This is a great article but that doesn't make it right. One quick questio "is it right to post a picture of a hard on guys do have in the morning fully clothed since it's a natural phenomenon"? I guess not. She made some hard points I won't take that away from her. Nudity is wrong as well, but we have medical textbooks and other books and sites for stuffs like this. And we have porn sites and mags for nudity but due to our decayed society everything has lost its place. This is my humble opinion and pls kindly say urs without cursing. We learn everyday. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Well-stated kween

Victoria said...

Ask your mother what kind of a dirty pictures are these. This is the reason men like you cannot procreate cos you see nature as dirty. Do you knowthat ovulation in some female occur during menstruation ?

Anonymous said...

Wowwwww.....I love dis!

Doris said...

Sure,d pics might seem gross to some jst as open display of nudity is gross but look beyond the pics nd u'll see her write-up is simply thought provoking. If d media can glorify scantily dressed women nd those in their full glory nd see it as not violating any guideline then y censor these pics? and those who see women who get stained as dirty,i beg to differ. I hv a very heavy menstrual flow nd often times especially wen goin out,i double the pads nd try to charge as often as possible,its even worse wen am on white during my clinical practice nd sometimes even wit al these precautions I stil get stained nd some ppl would look on wit disgust as if I got dirt stamped on my butt. Really annoyin.

Anonymous said...

Nice

Doris said...

I also went tru some of the comments above nd I rolled my eyes at some. The menstrual flow isn't disgusting. It's only irritating wen the menstratin lady doesn't take care of her body properly wen menstratin nd keeps the pad insitu for a long period of time.women are truly special,goin tru al dat monthly nd addin labour pains to dat,every woman deserves a Rose.

Unknown said...

We men appreciate it when it is dry, we should also admire it when it is blood stained, life is beatifull, thumbs up to women jare.

Dupe said...

Why not ary? Too freaked out by what makes a woman one? We women live with this and if you plan on getting married soon, then get ready to walk in on this sh*t every once in a while in the bathroom......... just saying!

NaijaDeltaBabe said...

Well, let's put sentiment aside, nobody needs to see ur period na. We all menstruate but putting d whole show up is a no no for me

Anonymous said...

If u justify such photo by d nude photos on instagram.Then how abt walkin d streets wit a period blood patch boldly since ppl walk abt nude

Dupe said...

Thank you so much, Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

@ Amaka, I totally agree with you.

Anonymous said...

while shes at it she should also post a pic of poop, that too is vital for life

Anonymous said...

I agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Novenaalcon... What is not meant for public eyes, with always adverts all over, even my children call it ' pampers', though they don't know what its used for. It is a reality, embrace it. Everyone knows already.

Anonymous said...

That one that said it's sacred; the nude pictures that litters everywhere ain't sacred? I can see how intelligent you are!

Anonymous said...

ewwwwwwwww, this girl needs to be checked psychologically. personal stuffs like this should be kept personal. she aint the first female to walk this planet.

Anonymous said...

I know what you are trying to ascertain...you just dey stretch the matter; she only used that to pass a message across....well, they got the vibes and hence restored back d picture...that's all that matters to her. we all are free to agree or beg to differ with her opinion.

Unknown said...

She has a point...

Anonymous said...

Looking for pity you say! ....plenty dumbass peeps here. I hope your generation doesn't die outta period problems bcus like you, no one will care.

Anonymous said...

These pictures needed to be accompanied by this explanation in order to make sense. Now she's made her point and I'm speechless.
Is it bad? Is it good? I think it should be talked about. But, should we see pictures? Then again, the pictures send the message in color.

like @freeborn_zina said, and I quote "HMMM SPEECHLESS".

Anonymous said...

Lmao, nice one kween

Unknown said...

dere should also be a pic of sweat
and shit
and sperm
and urine
anything one wants to attach importance to can become important.

Unknown said...

Nice write up but I pray Instagram understand

Anonymous said...

Future you're not well....lmao

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments... I love the post too! Well scripted write up. Funny she is clad on with clothes. I suffer this every month and granted the first 2 days off work cos of my heavy flow which bothers me. Reading something like this makes me celebrate her, myself and all women who suffer from dismenorrea and flow that embarrasses us publicly each month. Well done girl.

Anonymous said...

U Av said it well I'm to be a lady

Unknown said...

But truth be told, this is very irritating and disgusting. Like d girl said, some societies see this as holy and sacred. The christian society is definitely one of such society. This is sacred and not 4 public eyez. @ Henry Eze, if u beleive in ur deceitful mind dt d pix should be Celebrated; I urge u to take a pix of ur Mother while menstruating and upload it in ur DP Let d world see n celebrate her... Big Fool. .Nnaa, ejiro ihe ana agba n' nti agba n'anya. . Or beta still advice ur Sisters to upload their menstrual pictures on WhatsApp, Instagram, Twiter and BBM for their friends to celebrate them. . Or beta still, would u aadvice ur wife 2 share a pix like this on Social media? Just think 2wiaz and tell urself d truth !!!

Unknown said...

a simple question for the ladies who feel its d same thing as kim k and amber rose nude pic, kan u go about with menstrual blood oozing down ur leg? and you gals should stop this crap argument abt without menstrual cycle life will cease, as if without a sperm cell u can get pregnant. pls shes totally wrong, tomorrow i'll publish a pic of me shitting and say it should be celebrated....mtchewwwwww

Amiable said...

Every body is entitle to their own opinion so pls let's not insult anybody here as for me private things should be kept private like posting nude n even ds which is a bone of contention I am a woman n it's not easy for me during times so I respect women a lot but if u ask me I don't think ds should be made public like wise exposing our bodies but u c d world is changing so fast

Unknown said...

Exactly what is being said about Self Esteem. If you are a Lady and your own menstrual flow nauseates you, take the next Jik you find at a store and swallow the whole bottle. Some ladies will end up changing genders all because of this Menstrual shit. We live in a world where Vanity is celebrated. We frown our face at a Lady's Menstrual stains, yet we celebrate Nudity, pornography, Public Sex, bleaching, and all. Be proud of ur root, be proud to be a woman cos without that thing u call 'shit', you won't even smell the world not to talk of having any opinion at all on Instagram.

cypher said...

All u dumb fucks! This is not something to be shown to the public...if u rememba in d bible Rachael could not stand to greet her father cos she was in her period (though she lied). Bt that is to tell you that it was regarded as sacred n women seeing tbr menstruation wr nt allowed into certain places or to do certain things..go nd find out frm ur grand father who worships idols..they are not allowed contact with thr wifes during her menstrual flow...so y d fuck should some1 com on social media to show d whole world her menstrual blood???? Huh???

Anonymous said...

Lady I totally understand what u are trying to mean by all dis it doesn't change the fact though dat it's not right and it's gross...come to think of it what wud u think about the sight of faeces on a picture?.... yeah it's natural, yeah it has to be so so we could stay alive but it doesn't change d fact dat it's gross and dirty...also think about a guy taking a picture of him with sperm on his cloths....yeah it's natural and it also is a reason for life and creation but it doesn't make it less gross and doesn't change the fact that it's not nice...if u really feel dis is natural and ok will dear u to go through ur period without sanitary pads just be cos it's natural.... period in ladies is natural but doesn't make it less gross... dats just what u got to say about the whole controversy @rupikaur_

Unknown said...

Wow! Speechless




@phade_diva

Unknown said...

The worse Shit some guys do to make money! Fine I agree she probably should have kept her menstrual flow private but I certainly frown and some shallow minded guy who would call her dirty and call a woman's flow shit. Some idiots in a bid to make money do dirtier things. Some drink dis so called blood shit, some eat their own poop and other dirty stuffs. If an innocent young girl has expressed herself in whatever way she feels, who the hell are you to say anything contrary to the way she feels. We celebrate Vanity in this part of the world; pornography, Nudity, Sex and all yet we joke with sensitive issues.

Anonymous said...

I read this post and felt incredibly inspired by it. Everything she said there was true. Just because I can't make the same bold gesture she made doesn't make it any less wrong. The world is ruled by patriarchy. Everything we call culture now, is just a rule devised by men during a time when women were not allowed to say a word without being told to. Misogynist are everywhere... especially in this comment section. If you people don't understand feminism and it's impact, you all need to. Feminism is equality and men and women need to take part in it. I especially feel pity for the women in this comment section. The ignorance seems to run so deep and you allow yourself to be brainwashed by the misogynistic standards of life that you don't see that this woman supports us. She is trying to make a world where we can be accepted for who we are. Not women, but humans. Because they have soiled the beauty of womanhood. Patriarchy has made us all believe that our bodies are the only beauty, and this isn't one. Open your eyes, people! Stand for what you are, not what they want you to be!

MY TURN said...

Thank you Victoria Inyang

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