These sisters are changing the way we talk about (and pay for) periods
Chances are you didn’t learn much about your menstrual cycle when you were in school. In fact, your period was probably a hush-hush topic that nobody wanted to talk about.
This certainly rings true today for two New Jersey sisters Emma Joy, 16, and Quinn, 12. Instead of just accepting the fact that having your period is a taboo topic, however, they’re taking matters into their own hands.
They founded an organization called Girls Helping Girls Period, and it’s become a national movement helping women everywhere have access to feminine hygiene products they need and deserve each month.
They put together little period kits for women who need them, packed with pads, tampons, panty liners, and pretty much anything you can think you might need when you start to bleed. Almost all of us have been there. 84 percent of women between the ages 18-54 have experienced the unpleasant surprise of a period in public when they’re not prepared. Emma Joy and Quinn want to prevent that from happening.
The foundation of their work is raising awareness about the issue. Many of us take for granted how easily accessible tampons, pads, and panty liners are for us. There are countless women and girls out there, though, who are forced to miss multiple days of work and school each month because they don’t have the proper products to look after their periods.
Take homeless individuals and people from low-income communities. The yearly cost of tampons is around $70. Over a lifetime, the total comes out to $1,773. For someone who is struggling just to pay rent and provide for their children—for someone who doesn’t have a roof over their head—this is a huge chunk of cash.
Furthermore, the way we get taxed on these items is unreal. All but ten states still claim that sanitary products like tampons and pads are not medical necessities; they are considered “luxuries,” in fact. (Ha!)
At the same time, Rogaine is considered a medical necessity. The truth of the matter is, if men had periods, there would be no tax on that box of super-plus Kotex.
The fact that Emma Joy and Quinn are fighting this fight at this particular age is extremely significant, as there are countless young female students who are miserable at school when their period comes. In the U.S., 21 percent of the school-age kids live in poverty. That means there are quite a lot of girls at school who have no access to pads and tampons.
Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, vice president for development of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, told Broadly that, for families living in poverty, the $10 that could buy a box of tampons always goes to food instead. They simply have no choice in the matter.
Part of the problem? The stigma that still lives on around periods. They’re gross! Ew! That’s pretty much the consensus.
“We are trained not to talk about it,” Weiss-Wolf says. “It goes all the way back to Eve, religion, misogyny, all the societal norms we’ve been brought up with.”
Emma Joy and Quinn are turning the conversation around, though, and helping people realize that “it’s just woman toilet paper,” and we shouldn’t be scared to talk about it.
Women and girls of all ages and demographics deserve to be open about their periods, and the struggles associated with it. More importantly, they deserve access to the hygiene products that allow them to live out their day-to-day lives.
Let’s hope these sisters keep doing what they’re doing, because we need them now more than ever.