Stop taxing our periods: Feminine hygiene products are essential items

The monthly bill. Aunt Flo. Menses. The Crimson Wave. Your period.

Whatever you want to call it, women experience menstrual cycles and have to combat them with feminine hygiene products. However, dealing with your period doesn’t come cheap. Purchasing pads and tampons every month adds up, and it’s an expense women can’t avoid. According to Jezebel, a woman, on average, will use more than 11,000 disposable sanitary products such as pads and tampons during her lifetime and spend about $5,600 on her period needs — an expense and hassle that no man will ever experience.

It’s expensive being a woman, and yet, economies and governments around the world — and in many of our states — are taxing products such as tampons and pads as nonessential items.

Currently, in the United Kingdom, a Change.org campaign titled “Stop taxing periods. Period.” was drafted for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to eliminate the 5 percent tax on period products. Pads and tampons are taxed in the U.K. as “nonessential, luxury items.”

Please allow me to speak for all women: There is nothing luxurious about bleeding from your genitals several days every month for about 50 years of your life. And if there is a woman out there who believes her period is a magnificent and splendid experience, then she has been invaded by a mansplaining body snatcher.

Even parts of the U.S. wrongfully tax pads and tampons, with some states taxing them more than they tax soda and candy. Thankfully, this state does not tax those sanitary products, but an overwhelming majority of states do. Only five states actively choose not to tax feminine hygiene products, including this state, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Jersey.

While it might be difficult for some people (men) to understand why the taxation on feminine hygiene products around the world is inherently wrong, the unnecessary taxation and general expensiveness of pads and tampons must stop. If women who can afford to pay for their period needs feel the struggle of the taxation on feminine hygiene products, can you imagine the burden on women who are homeless, trying to raise a family while dealing with the monthly burden of being a woman?

When people think of donating to the less fortunate, more often than not they do not think to donate a box of tampons in lieu of a can of soup. Every woman deserves the right to be clean during her period and avoid risks of infection that come from unsanitary practices. Every woman should have the ability to access a feminine

hygiene product no matter what, and if you think otherwise, you have obviously never experienced a menstrual cycle or purchased a $10 box of tampons. Fortunately, the discussion of ending period taxes is being raised globally, and Canada recently announced it will remove the tax on feminine hygiene products effective July 1. However, there are parts of the world that will continue to tax feminine hygiene products.

A woman’s period is not taboo, despite women hiding tampons up their sleeves en route to the bathroom and men grimacing at the thought of a woman’s uterine wall shedding. As the battle continues to make governments realize feminine hygiene products are necessary to women’s health, so does the battle for gender equality and female understanding. Because if men bled out of their genitals every month, a box of “man-pons” would most likely arrive on their doorsteps each month, courtesy of the government.

Originally published on 6/15/15 in The Diamondback

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