Post #3 – “Inappropriate” V.S “Private”

I’m deciding to focus on the example of the menstrual collection by artist Rupi Kaur for the analysis of online bodies, while also refer to the ideas of public vs. private space. On her interview with Huffington Post Canada, Kaur talks about her intentions behind the piece and the message she wanted to send to her viewers. The series of images she released on Instagram was her attempt to represent the menstrual cycle in its day-to-day reality in the lives of a woman. For the most part, the images included a female body with menstrual signs either on the woman’s body or their sheets representing the simplest tasks a woman must do day-to-day during the monthly cycle. In her interview with Huffington Post Canada, Kaur introduces the subject and states, “I see in my own community and in the larger Western context, menstruation is something that so many of us go through but it’s completely silenced” (Zamon). Instagram took down these photos due to the breaking of the Instagram codes and conducts of “inappropriate” images. The thin line between the “forbidden” and “taboo” images is a line that cannot clearly be seen in the discussions back and forth between Kaur and Instagram representatives.

Instagram @_rupikaur

Instagram @_rupikaur

Instagram is a social platform: it is quite simple. It is advertised as a place to share your stories and share your lives with your friends and with the world. It designed for users who have Smartphone’s with the application to post images in any format they would like and any content they would like, as long as it properly follows the guidelines. The conditions under which these images were taken were a secret and private part of a woman’s life – yet everyone knows the menstrual cycle exists. These images were a representation of reality. Defining it as “inappropriate” is denying a woman the comfort in her own natural body. On Kaur’s Tumblr page discussing the matter, she states the sad fact in regards to the mass portrayal of the women’s body in terms of defining the word “inappropriate”. Periods are still considered shameful and Rupi Kaur’s art series is to address this fact that she believes to be plain disgusting. “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” (Zamon). As the Instagram Terms of Use states in one of their regulations, “You may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service.” As it is clear in the image and as Kaur emphasizes, there is nothing about the photo where it can logically be said that it should be removed from the social platform. After her photo is deleted, Kaur reposts it with a few statements targeting Instagram representatives who took down the photo. She says, “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” (Zamon).

The space of the home is commonly a private one, shared only with oneself and/or ones close relationships. This definition shifted when individuals decided to live feed their lives within their homes online. Camgirls, such as the “Jennicam”, channeled her privatized home life into online entertainment for the public audience. The concept of the home states there are various ways the significance of the home can be experienced. The photos by Rupi Kaur, for example, combine the idea of the home and gender identity. These images were taken under conditions that are “meant” to be private. The menstrual cycle is seen as a sensitive and disgusting part of a woman’s life. The space Rupi Kaur intended to have exist online was a space where menstruation could finally be represented as the way it is in reality: a natural and beautiful occurrence. “I bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility.” You tell them, Rupi Kaur.

  1. What can women around the world do to naturalize the image of the period, not only online but also in the physical world?
  2. I would want to perform a study on a random sampled audience by showing different pictures of women from the online community, how they are represented, and how they are responded to. I want to find someone who can give me a reasonable explanation for the “disgust” of the period, rather than answering with a simple grunt or unimpressed facial expression.

Works Cited

Zamon, Rebecca. “Rupi Kaur’s Period Photo On Instagram Sparks Change.” HuffPost Living Canada. The Huffington Post, 27 Mar. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/03/27/rupi-kaur-instagram-photo_n_6953770.html&gt;.

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