Rupi Kaur, a Canadian student and artist, had uploaded a photograph of herself lying on her bed. Instagram promptly removed it stating that the image went against community guidelines. Why? Because there was visible menstrual blood on her trousers and bed.
“As a part of my final project for my visual rhetoric course I created this image to demystify the period and make something that is innate "normal" again,” she wrote in the accompanying post.
She went on to attack Instagram for allowing “countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified, pornified, and treated less than human.”
Despite removing the image not once but twice, Instagram eventually backed down and restored the picture after a huge outcry.
Using menstrual blood in art certainly has the ability to shock but is it any different from other artists who use bodily fluids in their work? Why are pieces such as Marc Quinn’s “Self”, which used ten pints of his own blood to make a cast of his head, embraced by the art world but an artist such as Carina Úbeda, who uses her own menstrual blood, is accused of being sensationalist?
The Chilean artist saved five year’s worth of her own blood for her piece “Cloths” and hung the soiled rags which were embroidered with words such as “destroyed”.
However, one visitor of the exhibition, Silvana Sáez, told the Daily Mail: “Male blood is celebrated for being brave while ours is a shame. This won't change until we release our body as the first stage of political struggle, repression and male power of centuries.”
Elsewhere, menstrual blood is used because it can, in all honesty, look quite beautiful. For her project “Beauty In Blood”, Denver-based feminist artist Jen Lewis collects her menstrual blood before drizzling it down a clean toilet bowl to render interesting designs. Her husband then photographs the swirling red.
The final images are captivating. In her artistic statement, Lewis insists she makes this work because, “Institutionalised hierarchies maintain and support the outdated patriarchal belief that menstruation makes the female body inferior to the male body.” Here, the blood isn’t "disgusting" or “gross”. It becomes a thing of beauty.
As people become more relaxed about talking about menstruation, and myths and taboos are shattered, expect more of this pioneering art to appear. Whether you find it aesthetically pleasing or not, it certainly succeeds in starting a conversation.
A (girl) friend of mine went on a date 2 weeks ago. Halfway through dinner, she had a period leak that left a bloodstain on her skirt. Her date didn’t handle the situation well; she could tell he was uncomfortable. As the night came to an end, he said he would call her the next day… After not hearing back from him, she was convinced he was revolted by the accident. She sent him an apologetic text message. He replied, “How can I date a girl who doesn’t know what a Tampon is?” These blooded Disney princesses are my reaction to her story. There’s a lot of ignorance and shame surrounding this subject. The fact that she felt the need to apologize for something so natural is more appalling than a period stain. Girls get their period once a month. Sometimes it gets messy. Get over it. #BloodyPrincess