Every Month I Bleed – Get Over It.
I say this all the time, but we really do live in such strange times. Times where we have become desensitised to having almost naked women, sex and the YOLO lifestyle thrust repeatedly in our faces; yet, simultaneously times where not much has changed since past generations gone by, where having your period was something to be ashamed of, hidden away and not to be spoken of.
I wouldn’t class myself out rightly as a feminist as such, however I am passionate and proud of every single thing that makes me a woman: from my sensitivity to my compassion; from my feminine curves to the fact that when I bleed every month, my body is showing its capabilities to create, bear and harbour new life.
Women are such amazing and fascinating creatures but the world we live in today does not seem to recognise this; we are objectified, pornified and degraded every single day, and unfortunately this is the image that our children our growing up to see and believe. The boys want the ‘perfect’ women they see in magazines, and the girls want to be those ‘perfect’ women they see in music videos and on TV – although those ‘perfect’ women who are created by the media are mythical, unrealistic beings who frankly, do not exist.
Recently, Canadian spoken-word artist and photographer Rupi Kaur, who is currently a student at the University of Waterloo, reopened a continuously closed can of worms, when she posted a photograph on social networking site Instagram showing what a normal and real woman is. This photograph displayed a fully clothed girl lying on a bed with a blood stain on her trousers and on the bed – part of a photo-series called ‘Period’ which she created for a university project. Instagram removed the photograph twice, claiming that it infringed upon their community guidelines; however, this was exactly the reaction she was expecting and just reinforced the rhetoric that that is the kind of image of a woman which does not want to, or should not be, seen.
But why is this? Why is it okay for girls to post daily selfies where they have slathered themselves in make-up, are partially dressed, body hair-free and looking how society thinks a woman should look? But why is it not okay to show a woman in her true form, going through one of the most natural things about her – one of the most natural things that actually makes her a woman? It does not make sense to me.
Toronto based Kaur responded to the removal of her photograph, stating that she will not apologise for “not feeding the ego and pride of a misogynist society”. She went on to describe the hypocrisy of Instagram for having countless photographs of women who are treated “less than human” and furthermore, to describe the hypocrisy of our very society where people are okay with naked underage women; where people are okay with bondage; where people are okay with the abuse, rape and humiliation that women the world over face on a daily basis – yet a photograph of a woman on her period is violating and disrespectful. Just where is the logic?
The whole point of Kaur’s photo series was to make people question why a photograph of a menstruating woman made them feel uncomfortable, whereas photographs of women being objectified and abused don’t. She said she wanted to create a series to “demystify the period and make something that is innate ‘normal’ again”. I completely commend her for taking this step and making a stand, and showing the world that women are being censored for simply, being women and it should not be this way.
After her post was shared thousands of times, her photograph has since been reinstated on her Instagram account, and she has also received an apology from Instagram. You can view her work directly on her website: www.rupikaur.com where I know you will also find all other sorts of wisdom.
So I guess what I am trying to say this week is, like Rupi Kaur, we should be proud of being women and everything that it entails. We should not feel ashamed, or dirty, or unworthy because of something our body is designed naturally to do. We should especially not feel that way because it is what our family, our culture, or our society tells us.
We are women. We bleed. And we are beautiful.
Let’s embrace that.