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Not Your Mama’s Feminism

Pads and tampons are considered non-essentials or luxury items in most of the United States. Since period products are considered nonessential items, women in poverty often have a tough time being able to afford these items. Women who do not find themselves with an extra $5-10 (sometimes even more if they’re a woman with a heavier flow) a month end up using rags to absorb their period blood and later burn the rags if they are too hard to get clean. Millions of impoverished women around the world have to forgo pads and tampons during their monthly cycle, exposing themselves to possible infections. In an attempt to rectify the need for pads and tampons, Canada,

Women who do not find themselves with an extra $5-10 (sometimes even more if they’re a woman with a heavier flow) a month end up using rags to absorb their period blood and later burn the rags if they are too hard to get clean. Millions of impoverished women around the world have to forgo pads and tampons during their monthly cycle, exposing themselves to possible infections. In an attempt to rectify the need for pads and tampons, Canada, Chicago and New York have all passed similar legislation that classifies period products as medical necessities, effectively removing the tax on pads and tampons. People who do not live in Canada, Chicago or New York are now looking at another solution: having period products covered by food stamps and Medicaid.

The reason why period products are not covered by food stamps or Medicaid is because before pads and tampons were used by women around the world, women mostly used strips of cloth to absorb their period blood. These days, using pads and tampons is the status quo: However, legislation has not changed to reflect that. As a result, men (and some women) all around the world have voiced their disapproval about the slow movement towards period products being tax free. 

After journalist Jessica Valenti wrote an article for The Guardian about period products being free or subsidized, she on Twitter asking her followers if they knew of any country where tampons were free or subsidized. Valenti then received dozens of angry tweets on Twitter. Some of the most shocking ones included: “Here’s a thought: get married. Then your husband can pay for it. As long as you’re putting out….,” “Oh my God… Is this next? Please tell me this isn’t next… I’m demanding free jock itch cream and hand lotion…,” and “Can I also pay for your toilet paper and your vagina cream? Anything else u need from taxpayers just let me know. I gotcha!” 

Pads and tampons need to be covered by food stamps and Medicaid because we are failing our women the way things are now. Women cannot control the fact that they bleed every month, so period products should be covered by government programs designed to help impoverished men and women, like food stamps and Medicaid. In New York, mustard, food coloring and Fruit Rollups fall under the list of necessities and for men condoms and Viagra are not taxed even though those are not even medical necessities. Including period products under food stamps and Medicaid could save lives and help empower women globally.

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