They’re just periods. So why the big deal?

Why do we refer to them as ‘that time of the month?’ Why do women always whisper when they need to borrow a tampon? And why do the ads for pads and tampons always use blue liquid to demonstrate their effectiveness?

They’re just some of the questions arising from a period-themed fashion shoot, by a photographer Emma Arvida Bystrom. It’s called “There Will Be Blood” and it aims to question the taboo surrounding menstruation. It’s a gallery of women menstruating. Each picture shows women doing everyday activities – jogging, listening to music, sitting at a cafe – seemingly unaware (or indifferent) to the fact they’re bleeding through their clothes.

Take a look. WARNING: these images are Not Safe For Work.

Click through for the full gallery.

Yes, confronting. Not since Germaine Greer suggested women taste their own menstrual blood back in the ’70s, have so many people been so….confronted.   “If you think you are emancipated,” she wrote in The Female Eunach, “you might consider the idea of tasting your own menstrual blood – if it makes you sick, you’ve a long way to go baby.”

Emma Gray from the Huffington Post admits to being shocked by the images.

It’s telling that even though we’re bombarded daily with graphic photographs of war and other violence — often involving quite a bit of blood — VICE‘s series still shocks. Period blood is so verboten in the public eye that the first “feminine hygiene” ad to use the colour red when illustrating what actually ends up on those products was released just last summer (the ad shows a single, prim red dot), and we’ve come up with an insane amount of euphemisms to allude to our menstrual cycles. (Some of those are priceless, by the way — see Cher Horowitz telling her high school teacher about how she was “surfing the crimson wave” and had to “haul a** to the ladies’.”) And even when we do see menstruation discussed openly, women are often shown being emotionally and physically incapacitated by it. The 2011 film “No Strings Attached” includes a scene in which Natalie Portman, Greta Gerwig and Mindy Kaling are all incapacitated in the living room, moaning in pain and binging on cupcakes.

Similarly, BuzzFeed‘s Donna B says she was also shocked, but concludes the photos are beautiful.

I’m woman enough to admit it. They got me. A friend sent me the link and we had a moment of outrage and giggling and disgust and moved on. But my brain didn’t. It percolated over those images with niggling sense that I was being hoodwinked. And finally, like the veritable light bulb moment, it hit me. There’s nothing wrong or gross with any of those photos.

What about you… what was your reaction to the pics?

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