Lilian Min
August 04, 2015 2:23 pm

Every month, about half of the population gets hit with an expected but unwelcome visitor: The cost of buying more pads and tampons for their period. Aunt Flo is a hassle for sure, but complicating that time of the month is having to constantly stock up for it. For however long, it’s been unquestioned that your bleed is your problem, and that means shelling out for feminine hygiene products — which are in many cases taxed on top of their already not cheap costs. Well, college student Zoey Freedman has had enough with the “Tampon Tax,” which implicitly places the financial burden of having a period on people who have them, and took to her school paper to make a stand. What happens next won’t surprise you.

In Freedman’s original post for University of California, Los Angeles outlet The Daily Bruin, she makes  reasonable points about the affordability, accessibility, and humanity of feminine hygiene products:

It’s about time that the federal government recognizes that even the most basic health care needs to start subsidizing the cost of tampons and pads for women, or covering the cost completely. This is only fair, since health insurance is supposed to cover the major aspects of a person’s health. But more importantly, cutting the cost of these products is a crucial step in normalizing menstruation within society, and it provides women who may not have access to these resources the opportunity to feel clean and comfortable during their period.

The most surprising part of that statement is that it isn’t how more people think; after all, as she points out, many healthcare providers cover the cost of non-essential medication like Viagra. But alas, Freedman’s post has come under fire, and she’s been the subject of cyber bullying and harassment by trolls who have her in their cross-hairs for suggesting that the menstruating public, referred to in shorthand as women and girls, shouldn’t be financially penalized for something that’s been falsely branded as a “luxury” item.

In a follow-up post, Freedman had this to say about her haters — that she isn’t going away, and that the issue is clearly meaningful to pursue if it’s getting so much gendered backlash:

…I didn’t know so many men also felt so passionately about women’s access to tampons. Quite honestly, I was blown away by the number of men who took the time out of their day to voice their opinions on this subject. I was particularly impressed by how many men focused their insults on my gender, obviously missing my point – or maybe proving my point – about the gender inequality still present in such basic areas . . .

Women are disproportionately dismissed with hate instead of given honest consideration when their opinions diverge from the mainstream. And for what reason? Simply for being female and therefore being considered less worthy of a respectable discussion or reasonable disagreement.

We’re totally in agreement with Freedman’s argument that pads and tampons shouldn’t be taxed as luxury items, if not totally free, but only five states in the U.S. deem tampons and pads necessities, which means that there are still so many people out there paying for the “luxury” of not bleeding all over their clothes and themselves. And even in most women’s bathrooms, you have to pay for feminine hygiene products (in contrast to, say, the “free” water, soap, and toilet paper).

Menstruation is a bodily function; if public toilets or private, business-attached toilets are available, then at the very least, shouldn’t pads and tampons be free in those places? Why are people, oftentimes those who’ve never had them or dealt with them, so insistent on policing and stigmatizing them? As The Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti puts it:

For too many girls, the products that mark “becoming a woman” are luxuries, not givens. And for young women worldwide, getting your period means new expenses, days away from school and risking regular infections. All because too many governments don’t recognize feminine hygiene as a health issue.

We love Freedman for continuing to push the issue forward and encourage everybody to consider her option for not just its base argument, but also its implications; hey, periods aren’t going away, but the financial and social taxes on them should.

Related reading:

A social media campaign is on a quest to finally break the tampon taboo

This teen boy got Instagram famous because of his campaign encouraging teen boys to support their female classmates

Are these ‘Minions’ tampons taking things too far?

(Image via Shutterstock.)

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