Menstrual Products Are Not A Luxury. Period.

Photo credit: Ashley Quic

From the time a young girl begins her journey into womanhood, she will have the necessity of buying various womanly products to make her comfortable with new changes. This varies from bras, razors, makeup, deodorant, cleansers, and these are seen as luxury items (which they are) but the expenses start to pile up the further this young lady gets into adulthood.

Those aren’t the only items that cut into their “womanly” expenses; they also need feminine hygiene products like pads, tampons, and liners that are essential for their menstrual cycle. The average woman will begin her period at age 12 and it’ll end around age 55. That’s an average of 43 years having her period which can range from 3-7 days each cycle. According to an article on Huffington Post, 70% of women use tampons. Combining a regular 7 day, monthly cycle with a 36-pack of tampons (6.97 at Walmart CA), the average woman will spend $3,596.51 on tampons in her 43 years of having a period.` This price shows how women’s monthly periods are costing them more pain than her menstrual cramps.

Outside of these necessity items women might also spend money on heating pads and painkillers to soothe the ache of cramps. They also spend money on new underwear due to staining, birth control, chocolate for the PMS craving, sanitary pads, etc.

Periods are expensive. According to an article in Reuters Health, “A survey of low-income women in a large U.S. city finds that nearly two-thirds couldn’t afford menstrual hygiene products such as tampons or pads during the previous year (2018).” These women had to find a solution to their problem and use cloth, rags, tissues, and even toilet paper.

Noticing the number of women who cannot afford menstrual hygiene products, more than a dozen state legislators have recently made female menstrual products more accessible. In Salt Lake City, Utah free tampons and pads are given in most city buildings. In New York,  the “tampon tax” has been eliminated. In Georgia, funds were provided to give free menstrual products to schools and community centers in low-income neighborhoods.

In California, Governor Newsom announced that from the beginning of January 1, 2020, and through December 31, 2021, the sale and use of diapers and menstrual hygiene products (tampons, sanitary napkins, menstrual sponges, and menstrual cups) are exempt from tax. The exemption is not permanent but according to The Los Angeles Times Newsom said, “We hope to extend it, but we hope to be in a fiscal position to do so and we want to maintain our prudence”

Photo Credit: Ashley Quic

The fight does not stop there. Hygiene is not a privilege and there are many more states like Arizona, Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas, West Virginia, etc. that need to realize this. Access to these menstrual hygiene products should be a right, regardless of a woman’s income because menstrual products are not a luxury.

This tax needs to be removed in every state and country because a period is a biological function women cannot control and having a period is a big cost that half of the population will never have to pay. Having a tax on menstrual products is wrong and tells women that their monthly needs are not an important issue.

“It’s inherently wrong that half the population is financially burdened simply because of their gender,” said Jake Flynn, LA Councilman Bob Blumenfeld’s communications director. “It would greatly benefit people with financial or logistical restraints [such as] homeless women or young girls, who may not have simple access to convenience stores or pharmacies.”