Taking Back Female Culture

A quick browse through the pink magazine isle in any newsagents will paint quite a picture of female culture. Money and sex seem to be the main themes, however, these articles aren’t on business expansion and sexual liberation. They condone the female character to all-consuming sexual objects. The oppressive archaic interpretation that women are simply consumers is becoming an insult. Whilst some publications are worse than others in their portrayal of female culture, those that point fingers at this objectification are often drowned out by the mass negative media. This sexist media becomes a dominant form that extends and reinforces itself by absorbing any resistance back into its own dominant prescriptive culture.

However, many women are choosing to take female culture into their own hands. Using new platforms such as social media and blogging websites many have come forward to present a more accurate representation of the female culture. Toronto- based poetess Rupi Kaur uploaded a photo series entitled “Period.” to Instagram. The series included images familiar to women when on their periods, such as stained bed sheets and hot water bottles.

thank you @instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. you deleted a photo of a woman who is fully covered and menstruating stating that it goes against community guidelines when your guidelines outline that it is nothing but acceptable. the girl is fully clothed. the photo is mine. it is not attacking a certain group. nor is it spam. and because it does not break those guidelines i will repost it again. 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. when your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified. pornified. and treated less than human. thank you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ this image is a part of my photoseries project for my visual rhetoric course. you can view the full series at rupikaur.com the photos were shot by myself and @prabhkaur1 (and no. the blood. is not real.) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ i bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. my womb is home to the divine. a source of life for our species. whether i choose to create or not. but very few times it is seen that way. in older civilizations this blood was considered holy. in some it still is. but a majority of people. societies. and communities shun this natural process. 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. we menstruate and they see it as dirty. attention seeking. sick. a burden. as if this process is less natural than breathing. as if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. as if this process is not love. labour. life. selfless and strikingly beautiful.

A photo posted by rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) on

Although the photographs contained no obscenities, Instagram reacted by removing the images not once, but twice.  Huge support flooded in for Kaur with the pictures being posted by hundreds of accounts.  Instagram was forced to apologise and reinstate the image on her original account.

In her response she stated,

“I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of a misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak…

Your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many of whom are underage) are objectified, pornified, and treated less than human. Thank you.” – Rupi Kaur

Tavi Gevinson has also been accredited with encouraging the youth feminism movement. Her online magazine ‘Rookie’, has gained a huge following with themes similar to the ‘Riot girrrl’ feminist movement. ‘Rookie’ also encourages young women from around the globe to contribute to the site to ensure an outlet that not only represents women but also challenges the mass media.

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Women like Rupi Kaur and Tavi Gevinson are changing the way in which women are viewed in the media. By doing this, they are inadvertently encouraging young women to participate in the marketplace as both contributors and consumers.