Lilian Min
Updated August 04, 2015

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:

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:

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:

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.

(Image via Shutterstock.)