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When you hear the word “goddess,” do you think of porn? Likely not.
The term is more typically associated with Hindu religious figures, Greek and Roman mythology, and modern-day paganism. Goddess worship can involve anyone from Aphrodite and Lakshmi to Diana and the Virgin Mary. It’s a favorite of Wiccans, Hindus, yogis, Santeros, Vodun practitioners, and spiritual feminists—as well as old-school, tree-hugging pagans.
So when the #Goddess tag abruptly disappeared from Instagram on Monday, a lot of users took notice—and action.
Using the tags #BringBackGoddess and #BringBackTheGoddess, women are protesting the removal of the tag, which they say happened because the network deemed too many people were posting nude photos.
A photo posted by r. drury (@malasandmiracles) on
Instagram did not immediately respond to a request for clarification as to why the tag was removed.
Many users referenced the removal of #goddess as an anti-woman move conflated with the site’s banning (then un-banning) of the tag #curvy just last week—as well as its history of flagging photos of moms breastfeeding for “inappropriate content.”
#mayday! #bringbackgoddess #bringbackthegoddess INSTAGRAM HAS CURRENTLY BANNED THE HASHTAG #goddess !!! Time to #reclaim #Goddesses with a Capital G! #reclaiming #notadirtyword #empowering #women #woman #goddessheals #together #respect, #inspire, #empower #celebrate !!! #feminist #feminism #feminists #gaia #collective @gaiagrove @lamother_ #sisters #goddessisalive #goddessrising #venus #venusretrograde #goddessesunite #divinefeminine #sayhername
A photo posted by Amy Clarke (@scorpfaery) on
People also took to Twitter to air grievances and protest Instagram’s decision to ban #goddess. Many pointed out the fact that #god was not an issue while the female version somehow created a problem. Still more users protested what they said was a direct restriction on expressing their religious beliefs.
This is hardly Instagram’s first censorship controversy. In addition to last week’s #curvy debacle, the banned a photo of a fully clothed woman whose menstrual blood shows through her sweatpants, various artistic nudes posted by supermodel Chrissy Teigen, an entire account full of famous lesbian fashion photographer Cass Bird‘s family pics, and a fully covered bikini photo in which one women’s full bush slightly peeks out over the edge of her bottoms. Of course, any picture that dares show a “female nipple” as opposed to a “male” nipple has been banned, a policy that has spurred ongoing #FreeTheNipple campaign.
Update 1:46pm, July 28: An Instagram spokesperson provided the following statement to the Daily Dot:
I can confirm that we did recently block the #goddess hashtag. Here’s some additional info: We only block hashtags when they are consistently being used to share images and videos that violate our Community Guidelines.
In this case, #goddess was consistently being used to share content that violates our guidelines around nudity. We’ve taken similar action on dozens of hashtags because they were being used to share inappropriate content.We’re working on a way to more quickly restore certain hashtags that have previously been blocked.
We’re also working on ways to better communicate our policies around hashtags.”
Photo via Sabine Mondestin/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.