A few weeks ago, I wrote an article entitled, “10 Positive News Stories,” and I’ve been thinking about one of these news stories in particular ever since. I’m talking about New York City’s legislative move to end the “Tampon Tax,” the sales tax on all menstrual hygiene items that prevents women in the United States and around the globe from affordable access to what is undoubtedly a basic necessity.
Before this historic legislation was passed, New York’s laws allowed a four-percent sales tax on menstrual products such as pads and tampons, while “medical” items such as Rogaine, adult diapers and dandruff shampoo went tax-free. Now does that sound fair to you? News flash-- it shouldn’t. Anyone who has ever had a period can attest to the fact that, well frankly, periods suck. And you know what sucks even more? The fact that men can catch a break when they don’t want to be bald, but women have to pay extra so that they don’t have that “blood coming out of [their] wherever” leaking all over their clothes. Oh yeah, I went there.
New York’s bold move is an enormous milestone for our country because this state is not merely saving women just a little bit of money each time they have their period; In addition to removing the tax on pads and tampons, New York City will now provide menstrual products in schools, shelters, and correctional facilities, thereby granting women of any income the right to not have to worry about not having the means to provide themselves with the menstrual hygiene they need. This is huge.
Canada, the UK, and Kenya are a few of the countries which have made strides in their fight against the tax on periods, and the rest of our country as well as the rest of the world must follow the example of New York. If the United States is as forward-moving and developed as we proclaim it to be, why are so few of the states on the map below colored in purple?
But it’s not just about the money. By making a clean and comfortable period near impossible for low-income consumers, the “Tampon Tax” discriminates against women and perpetuates misogyny where it matters most.
"Basically we are being taxed for being women. . . This is a step in the right direction to fix this gender injustice. Women have no choice but to buy these products, so the economic effect is only felt by woman [sic] and women of color are particularly hard hit by this tax. You can't just ignore your period, it's not like you can just ignore the constant flow… I think it's because [as] people, we've been taught to hide this, not talk about it. The reality is, these institutions of power are male-dominated. It's either they're not thinking about it, or they're afraid to approach it."- Cristina Garcia, an assemblywoman from California, another state with similar anti-”Tampon Tax” legislation in the works.
As women, we are so used to the policing of our bodies that it has become the norm, and this is just one facet of the gender inequality that plagues our world. It’s time to end the injustice that women have faced since the beginning of time, and an end to the tax that makes difficult the health and cleanliness that all women who receive a period deserve is a step in the right direction. The progress in New York is just the beginning.
We must fight to terminate the “Tampon Tax.”
Because periods are not a luxury.
Because a period is a biological function women cannot control.
Because menstrual hygiene should not be a privilege.
Because menstrual hygiene a basic necessity.
So join the cause! Check out Bloody Disgrace to sign the petition and learn more about the period tax and how to put an end to it. This is important.