Whether she’s a 16-year-old high school junior who had to run into the bathroom with her textbooks on her butt or a 27-year-old woman who carries a secret bag full of tampons in her car, she will know what a pain and hassle it is to get their period.
Around the world, periods are treated differently in different cultures. Where I’m from, in Hyderabad, and throughout most of Southern India, when a girl gets her period, she isn’t allowed to pray to god or enter the kitchen because it is believed that she is “dirty” for those seven days. In biblical times, women were sent into isolation because they were considered unclean and should not associate with others while they were bleeding.
Today, rather than the extensive rituals or beliefs, we have a simple tax to make getting a period a hassle. The tampon tax.
The tampon tax is a gender injustice issue that women all over the world have to face every month. Basically, it means that pads, tampons, and other products that women use when they get that monthly visit from Aunt Flo are all taxed as luxury items.
In a YouTube video with Ingrid Neilson, President Obama states that he believes the only reason this tax exists is because men were making laws when it was passed. Hoping for change, women all over the country are protesting the unfairness.
“It’s literally a tax for being female,” said high school senior, Megha Gowraram. “A tampon tax is like saying a period is just something we can magically stop having if we want to. It’s not right.” A survey taken by the Telegraph shows that 93.3 percent of people agree that pads and tampons are necessary items and should not be taxed.
California assemblywoman Christina Garcia calculated that women tend to spend an average of $7 per month on their period for forty or so years. Within California only, that adds up to about twenty million dollars in taxes. “Eliminating the tax is a short-term monetary loss that can lead to the long-term success of girls.”
Garcia believes that even if we are unable to make these items free for all, we should make them cheaper and easier to afford for those on the lower end of the wage gap.
This tax has been protested across the world, prompting hashtags on social media such as #HappyToBleed, #FreeTheTampon and #PeriodsAreNotAnInsult. Photos and stories have been appearing all over the internet to explain how having a period isn’t something to keep quiet. Kiran Gandhi, a woman from London, decided to run the London marathon without wearing a tampon or a pad. “I ran the whole marathon with blood running down my legs,” she says. Kiran explained that she ran that way to raise awareness for all the girls and women who cannot afford the products necessary and those who have to pretend that the flow isn’t there and hide themselves.
Many people around the globe have been protesting in their own ways. In the United Kingdom, Charlie Edge and her two friends decided to protest by walking around outside the Parliament building in London without wearing tampons to show how much of a luxury they really are. They held signs with slogans such as “No Uterus No Opinions” and “Does your tax make you feel awkward?”
Only thirteen states do not tax tampons and pads. Illinois, New York, and Connecticut just joined the list in 2016. Some officials from New York claim that by removing the tax, consumers are saving as much as ten million dollars a year. Canada, Britain, Ireland, and Spain banished the tax while France reduced it from a high 20% to 5.5%.
This prompts me to ask, why is there even such a tax like this anymore? Why do 33 states across the country still have it? Why aren’t we combating it? This is the time for us, as a community, to stand up against a tax like this.