Instagram has a lot of rules around what users are allowed or not allowed to post, and a lot of them pertain to women's bodies — and also don't make a lot of sense. It's a double standard that many have tried to combat, including Louelle Denor, who posted an Instagram photo including menstrual blood but no nudity). So far, Instagram hasn't come after the photo — but commenters have gotten outraged about it, even going so far as to tell Denor to kill herself. But why? Why on earth does something that's just a natural process most women go through on a monthly basis inspire such intense backlash? Is not being ashamed of your period some heinous offense?
Denor first posted a picture of herself holding a Softcup with blood dripping down her fingers to prove a point about Instagram's policy against pictures that included period blood, which she considers to be "outlandish." Additionally, the photo was an effort to stand in solidarity with women who have had their pictures removed, as she explained in a post on Medium following the backlash. The picture includes no nudity. The object she's holding isn't immediately recognizable as a menstrual cup. You wouldn't even know the blood on her hands is menstrual blood unless she hadn't said so in the caption — and since Instagram has no problems with other kinds of blood, it's likely no one would have take issue with the photo if she hadn't.
However, because she does explain that the blood in the picture is period blood, plenty of people do seem to be upset about the photo. Denor even posted another image to Instagram to highlight the hateful comments she's received about the picture. Readers should note some of these comments are highly disturbing.
Denor is called a "feminist" (why is that a dirty word?) and a "c*nt." One commenter suggests she should be sprayed in the face with semen, then quips that perhaps bleach and jet fuel would be more appropriate. Another tells her to kill herself. Also, if anyone knows what on earth "fanny fluids" is supposed to mean, you are more knowledgeable than Google on the subject. I think the word this commenter is looking for is "blood."
As Denor herself points out, these comments are arguably way, way more offensive than a picture depicting period blood, which is a natural biological reality most women deal with every month. Furthemore, although Instagram's official stance on abusive content is that they "remove content that contains credible threats or hate speech, content that targets private individuals to degrade or shame them, personal information meant to blackmail or harass someone, and repeated unwanted messages," the company's response to some of the comments Denor has been receiving seems somewhat puzzling.
"I’ve been told that I should be sprayed with a mixture of semen, jet fuel, and bleach, and then set on fire," Denor tells Bustle in an email. "That comment was not removed because it was not deemed credible. I’ve been called a cunt, a slave, been told to kill myself time and time again, but those comments are fine to stay because Instagram doesn’t consider any of it hate speech, derogation, or shaming."
She continues, "My fingers covered in blood puts my account at risk, but those folks who said the most vile, hateful things to me didn’t break the TOS [terms of service]. They’re just fine."
The idea that anyone would think posting a picture of yourself doing just about anything somehow means that the photo taker deserves to be dead is a pretty incomprehensible attitude. And the idea that pictures of period blood are somehow off-limits or offensive is just bizarre.
As someone who spends a good five to seven days a month dealing with period blood, I'd just like to point out that it isn't that big a deal. It's sometimes messy, it's frequently annoying, and it's a major bummer when it ruins your favorite pair of underwear — but it's also just part of most women's regular lives. Finding it offensive is so far beyond my frame of reference I can't even begin to comprehend it. And if you want to "protect" people from it, well, good luck with that, because Mother Nature pretty much guaranteed that's not possible for about half the population. And besides, what, exactly, might the sight of period blood do to harm us? Because I'm seriously coming up empty here.
In other words, it's high time that the world got over its weird objection to periods — and that these commenters, whoever they may be, grow up and screw their heads on straight.