Many people are not even aware that there is a tax on tampons and other feminine hygiene products in the United States. This tax has been in effect since 1965 and continues to rob women across the country of millions of dollars each year.
However, after a group of five brave women in New York took a stand against such inequitable legislation, the state has become one of only five (Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Jersey) to exempt the tax. The governor of New York signed the new tax legislation on July 21, and the repeal is estimated to save women up to $10 million a year.
It's frightening to think that at least 40 state governments have been forcing women to pay a tax because the legislators of these states (many of which have never experienced a period because they are not women) deemed tampons and feminine hygiene products as "luxury items."
Now, if you happen to be a woman, you can easily relate to how infuriating this whole situation is. For all the male readers who have never experienced the discomfort and inevitability of getting a period, imagine finding out that every time you bought shaving cream or toothpaste, you've been paying a tax specifically because these items were not labeled as items of necessity by state legislators.
The absurdity of condoning a sexist bill that forces women to pay extra money for necessary, hygienic items in 2016 is sickening, to say the least. How many more times are we going to find out about some hidden-under-the-rug legislation that is negatively and unjustly impacting lives?
Thankfully, these five women in New York were successful in their endeavor to right the wrongs of sexism from our past. Unfortunately, in other places, such as Utah, others have tried and failed to stop their hard-earned money from being stolen.
In February 2016, an all-male board of lawmakers shut down the Hygiene Tax Act – voting eight to three against its passing. The Hygiene Tax Act would prevent taxation on certain hygiene products, including tampons, pads and diapers.
In case you were wondering which "non-luxury items" are exempted from taxation in Utah, here are just a few: sales of an item from a vending machine if the proceeds of each sale do not exceed $1, sales of alcoholic beverages to an airline for in-flight consumption, sales of various machinery including snowmaking and grooming equipment and (my personal favorite) sales of molten magnesium.
That's right ladies, our uteruses bleed every month for a majority of our lives, but somehow, necessary hygiene products used for sanitary reasons are more luxurious than molten magnesium.
Sadly, these kinds of tax exemptions are not only found in Utah. A majority of the U.S. states – that so many Americans proudly call home – continue to facilitate the taxation of women's hygiene products. These states, including Georgia, are taxing women for being women.
With more and more women pushing back against the blatant sexism that is still found in a plethora of professions, there is hope that one day, I can enter a grocery store and not be subjected to taxation for going through the natural process of womanhood that I have no control over. The same process, I might add, that mothers and grandmothers had to endure, so that one day, they could give birth to the male chauvinists who are keeping these taxes in place.