Rupi Kaur & Menstrual Activism in Her Art
To celebrate International Women's Month, we are recognizing important moments and people that are working to fight the stigma attached to periods. This week, we have the thought-provoking and incredible Rupi Kaur.
Kaur is a Canadian artist, poet, and activist. Her activism drives her poetry and photography. When she was 21-years old, she had a photo series specifically capturing the nuances of having a period.
What started as a project for college, quickly turned into a staple in modern-day period activism.
Kaur's passion on the subject partly stems from her own periods that are particularly difficult given a condition called endometriosis. Her periods are painful and ‘eliminate [her] entire existence for a week.’ Along with this, she recognizes the peace that can be brought from openly discussing periods.
The photo series was shared on social media which sparked debate and further highlighted the taboo still surrounding periods today. Whether it be a snapshot of her toilet or lying in bed with a leak on her sheet, people had something to say.
One notable response was from Instagram. Their reaction was to flag the image and remove it, not once, but twice. This was the ‘exact response’ that Kaur was working to critique society for.
When she first posted the series, she received positive feedback. It quickly turned into negative comments that ranged from calling her an ‘ugly feminist’ to women say that they don’t see the need to celebrate their periods.
In response to the women saying that specifically, Kaur says it is because ‘they grew up as white women. They didn’t have this thing that women of color feel.’
From integrating race and menstruation, she has become a voice for so many menstruators that have different experiences based on their background. Her family is Sikh, in which menstruation is ‘totally accepted’ but her Indian culture contradicts this. Having to hide pads from her father or not be allowed to ride her bike as a kid showed her that people were not completely comfortable with periods.
Her poetry continues to chronicle a menstruator’s experience and the taboo that is tied to periods. If you ever are having trouble articulating how you are feeling, read her work.
Here, Kaur is beautifully describes periods on page 163 from 'milk and honey.'
All photos and poetry are created by and credited to Rupi Kaur.