For anyone who thinks that menstruation is fun, you’re absolutely right! I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t love bleeding out of their genitalia for a week, feeling as bloated as a balloon and mood swings as extreme as anything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth. Plus, if you live in California you get the joy of contributing to the $20 million annually collected from the taxation of feminine products such as pads and tampons. Because having a period is a luxury, right?
Well, let’s think about that for a moment. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a luxury is either: a condition or situation of great comfort, ease or wealth; something that is expensive and not necessary; or something that is helpful or welcome and that is not usually or always available. Now, I don’t claim to be an expert but if those are the definitions of a luxury, I think that using the word “luxury” to describe the biological functions of a woman’s uterus is a classic example of hyperbole. Because, if we go through each of those descriptions, it becomes evident that periods are not a luxury. Are they comfortable, easy or wealthy? No. Are they helpful or welcome? Possibly, but they do tend to be regularly available. And, lastly, are they unnecessary or expensive? Well, a period is certainly necessary to a woman’s ability to reproduce (the monthly release of the egg to await fertilization so that it can eventually become a human baby, etc., etc.). As far as expensive goes, yes, periods are expensive because of a tax that deems feminine products (and in turn, periods) to be a luxury for anyone with a menstrual cycle.
The truth is that taxing pads and tampons as a luxury is factually incorrect considering that menstruation doesn’t even closely resemble the definition of what a luxury is. Not to mention that taxing products necessary to the hygienic health and well-being of female-identifying individuals, makes those products highly unavailable to those in low-income households. The continuation of the tampon tax is not only further evidence of how society (and the government) continue to ignore and accommodate for the healthcare needs of women.
Fortunately there are some places that have moved into the twenty-first century. In places like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland, feminine products are tax-exempt. In addition, certain student organizations are taking a stand. Before the first day of classes at Brown University, the Undergraduate Council of Students (UCS) stocked nearly 70 bathrooms (men’s, women’s and gender-inclusives) across campus with free tampons and pads. UCS plans to restock the baskets every week but hopes that eventually the university will take over that responsibility.
It’s an initiative that more universities, including JMU, should be undergoing. It’s the duty of educational institutions to have the best interest of their students in mind. Providing complimentary period supplies could even be under the supervision of the women’s health care section of a university’s health center. Most clinics already offer free contraceptives such as condoms so why shouldn’t tampons and pads be added to that list? At the end of the day, periods are not a luxury and it’s time we stop punishing women for having them.
Feature image here.