By Maddi Fink and Gerrard Simpkins
It is safe to say that when its comes to periods boys are either disgusted or have no clue what they are or how they work. For girls, most have their fair share of embarrassing stories about their periods or their ways of secrecy when it comes to a specific time of the month. But the lack of openness to talk about Mother Nature’s monthly gift provides more hindrance to society than benefit. There is a national movement to change this.
“It’s not something we have experience with. It’s like you’re scared of the unknown. Kind of like when kids use a night light because they’re scared of the dark. They don’t know what’s in the dark – we don’t know what a period actually entails. We don’t understand it, so it scares us,” said senior Michael Cipolla.
Let’s enlighten everyone.
On average, a woman spends 6.25 years of her life on her period. The costs of each period adds up through the years to an average of $18,171. This price is calculated with the price of heating pads, acne medication, panty liners, chocolate, midol, tampons, new underwear,and birth control over the time spent on an average woman’s life with her cycle, according to Jessica Kane of the Huffington Post.
Sanitary products are taxed at an equal rate to all other products, whereas items such as candy bars, soft drinks, and bags of chips are often tax exempt. These necessities for women are not covered by welfare or food stamps, and many women find themselves paying money out of their own pocket for items they need — money they most likely do not have.
The controversy over whether or not sanitary products should be taxed radiates among women throughout the nation, but a more common tampon-related issue is the availability in public facilities, prisons, and homeless shelters. Currently eight states and the District of Columbia have bills to eliminate taxes on sanitary products, including Virginia, and have passed in the State Senates in New York and Mississippi.
In prison, women have to pay for sanitary products. In homeless shelters, they are rarely available unless a donation is made or a manufacturer finds a defective box. The biggest problem is the treatment of something that cannot be controlled. Women have periods. It is a bodily function and therefore should be treated as such.
Should sanitary items be provided in public places and covered by welfare and food stamps?
“Absolutely. If you’ve ever been in a women’s bathroom, women are disgusting. If there aren’t things for them to use… yeah, you get the drift. Kids need it,” said health and P.E. teacher Barbara Green.
The majority of public restroom facilities have sanitary product machines, but they cost money and the majority of them do not work. In the education systems, a student is provided with these products, but must get them from the nurse or office. This not only increases the embarrassment factor, but implies that there is something wrong with these girls. According to parentmap.com, the cost of providing these items averages out to about $4.67 per girl per year. But the cost should not be seen as an expense, but rather necessary healthcare for women.
Many men cannot relate to and seem to avoid the topic as much as possible, thus not prioritizing the passing of policies related to availability of sanitary products because men dominate state legislatures. Policies such as free sanitary products in public restrooms are being brought up by women in many states, but few have yet been passed.
Roni Caryn Rabin summarizes the feelings of women in a New York Times article, “for those who are squeamish about all this, the message is: Get used to it.”
To take action, sign the petition against the tampon tax at https://www.change.org/p/u-s-state-legislators-stop-taxing-our-periods-period.
Bodily functions cannot be controlled, and that goes for women’s menstrual cycle as well. Sanitary products should be treated as healthcare and provided for women everywhere. Period.