Sanitary products including tampons, pads, panty liners and even the cost-conscious, eco-friendly DivaCup are items taxed in all but five U.S. states. Besides Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the United States considers the tampon to be a nonessential item and a luxury (like a yacht or Lady Gaga’s dog’s collar). As if being a female isn’t costly enough, we pay to have our periods like it’s something we enjoy. “Wow, I’m sooo looking forward to this new box of pads. I can’t wait to get home and try one on!” an eager PMSer exclaims. Or, “Girl — could I trade you a regular for a super? That’s one rare rag I must get for my collection,” because feminine hygiene is just that fun.
It’s like we are all in this club, and we keep paying the same union dues, but there are no visible changes being made to improve our group’s experience. Instead, we continue to fight for equality, basic rights for our own bodies, respect for our existence, health care, access to contraception — all the while paying a tax on something that is considered dispensable by a group of males in power. At this point, who wouldn’t jump at the idea of involuntary muscle contractions and fluctuating hormones? Sign me the “F” up.
This is an essential part of being a woman; it isn’t an accident or something we choose to have. Females bleed, we have periods, and affordable feminine hygiene has always been a necessity. This should not even be in question. As basic as they are, tampons are expensive (with an average box costing about $6.99). What makes an already fundamental need out of reach is placing a tax on it, which discriminates against women for having menstrual cycles in the first place. This sanitary tax puts women in a position of irregularity (no allusion intended) where we pay to acknowledge our biological differences from men. If you can agree that our reproductive systems are our own business and not the government’s, the sooner we can all agree that no gender should be taxed. This brings us closer to the necessary separation of body and state/body and nation.
Over the course of a lifetime, the amount of money we spend on tampons and pads proves that having a period isn’t cheap. I mean it’s actually ridiculous. Let’s be real. For the sake of progress: Canada recently passed a motion to drop the tax completely. Yet in the United States, the sales tax for sanitary products still ranges from 4 to 9 percent. This is a nationwide dilemma and I hope these facts motivate more petitions and women who fight for representation. We have a long way to go, ladies — but don’t forget how luxurious periods are in the meantime. “WOMEN FOR GLITZ: We put the bling-bling in reproductive systems!” “Period? MORE LIKE SURPRISE PARTY!” “Period? Let’s celebrate with these decorative plates. I hope you like them.”
Let’s do something about this.
Gabrielle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.