Let’s begin with the obvious, all women havehad their period. This process is as natural as eating, peeing, drinking andsleeping. Now have any ofyou ever walked into a bathroom and had to pay for the toilet paper? No, youhaven’t. I’m sure that it also never occurred to anyone to carry around toiletpaper in case they had to do their business away from home. For sanitaryreasons we want people to wipe their behinds.
For sexist reasons, we don’toffer the same concern for women who don’t want to bleed on furniture or theirclothes. After years of women being shamed into not talking about periods moreand more are speaking up. Periods have been linked to a part of thereason girls have missed school. Condoms are free so why aren’t tampons andpads? Most women in third world countries cannot afford the pricey cost oftampons and pads.
Even in first world countries women cannot afford to by theproper sanitary products. Are they just a luxury for women? Women also do notsign up to have their periods we can’t control them.In public, we talk aboutperiods as much as we do diarrhea. Never. We have to shove tampons or pads upour sleeves so no one knows it is our time of the month. We stick wads oftoilet paper in our underwear when we are out of supplies. Has anyone ever seenthe commercials with the pads when they are pouring the light blue liquids outof cups onto pads; meanwhile women are gushing blood out from an “unspeakable”place.
In a 1978 magazine, Gloria Steinem answered a question that many womenhave asked. “What would happen if men would menstruate and women wouldn’t?” Sheanswered with this, “…menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy,masculine event. Men would brag about how long and how much…” (Jones).Rebecca Thorton and Emily Oster,researchers, supplied some girls with menstruation cups and measured whetherthe use of the cups had an effect on school attendance.
They found that itdidn’t matter whether or not they had cup or tampons/pads; the girls missed thesame number of days and performed the same in school. Thorton and Oster didfind that menstruation does in fact link to girls missing school. They found inone particular way, cramps.
44% of girls said cramping and being uncomfortablekept them home while they were menstruating (Peck). At public schools sanitaryproducts are hidden away in the nurses office. This almost teaches girls to beashamed of their periods. A study in Uganda found that girls inrural areas miss an average more than 10 percent of their school days annuallybecause they cannot afford pads, access to a bathroom, or even bullying becausethey have periods (Prestwich).
Because some women cannot afford them, theyleave them in too long causing medical issues like toxic shock syndrome. 52% ofthe female population or 26 % of the population is of reproductive age(Yakupitiyage). I have had a friend who couldn’t afford sanitary products soshe used her old shirts and just cut them up. According to the Educational, Scientificand Cultural Organization, in Kenya alone, 50% of schoolgirls don’t have theaccess to sanitary products (Yakupitiyage).
Nearly 1 million do not even go toschool because they lack tampons and pads (Rop). In Nepal and Afghanistan, morethan 30% of girls report missing school during their periods. In India, morethan 20% of girls drop out of school completely after reaching puberty(Yakupitiyage).In a 2016 interview Emily Peck citedNancy Kramer, “Tampons and pads should be treated just like toilet paper. Theyall serve the same purpose — items to tend to our every day, normal bodilyfunctions,” According to some research done by Kramer, it would cost $4.67 perfemale student to provide free products annually. (Peck) People don’t eventhink about the cost of stocking bathrooms with toilet paper, paper towels orsoap.
“We live in a BYOTampon world.”(Peck). We live in a world where girls are too embarrassed to ask a teacher fora tampon, where we are shamed into not talking about our normal bodilyfunctions.
In a 2016 interview, TharangaYakupitiyage cited a young girl, “The girl with her period is the one to hangher head. Children and boys will make fun of her.” In New York City councilwoman Julissa Ferrans wants to make tampons free in all bathrooms, even schoolbathrooms. Last fall she had introduced the program to install tampon and paddispensers at a high school in Queens. She got an overwhelmingly positiveresponse and expanded the program to 25 more schools across queens and theBronx.
Rates for school attendance has also gone up 2.4% in as little as sixmonths (Weiss). She is also the chair ofthe finance committee she was cited in an interview by Weiss, “No one has everinterrogated me over the City’s toilet paper budget.” Therewere also some women in who filed a lawsuit in New York for unlawfully taxingfeminine hygiene products; which is taxed at 4%. Accordingto Nancy Kramer’s research 86% of U.S. women ages 18 to 55 say that they havestarted their periods unexpectedly and didn’t have what they needed.
There are times when I have run out andcannot afford to go by anything, so I have had to use toilet paper before, talkabout uncomfortable. Thewomen of New York believe that feminine hygiene products should be classifiedas medical necessities that are exempt from sales tax. Here are just some ofthe things classified as medical necessities that are exempt from sales tax inNew York: chap stick, condoms, Viagra, facial wash, dandruff shampoo, Rogaineand adult diapers. According to NPR, five new bills were introduced this yearseeking to get rid ofthe sales tax on tampons and pads. Forty states and the District ofColumbia still tax these products (Peck). Manycompanies and schools do have tampons in the bathroom. Though they are notfree, and they are cheap and extremely uncomfortable.
A medical condition is a condition thataffects all or part of an organism, (Mr. Paulsen my science teacher told methis and I did not know how to cite it, sorry!). Periods should be consideredas a medical condition, you are bleeding out of somewhere and we cannot controlit. It is affecting women/girls.
Girls are dropping out of school, some areskipping school, women are missing their jobs. Governments cater for free condoms, but sanitaryproducts for women are sold at very high prices. The South African government cameby the information that more of their population prefer flavored condoms overstandard regular condoms, so they started handing out free flavored condoms.
Don’t get me wrong we need condoms to prevent STDs and pregnancies but femininehygiene products are just as important as condoms and should be free too.Eighty-six percent of people who took an unscientific Twitter poll agreed that sanitaryproducts should be free (Peck). Tampons and pads are just an added expense in awomen’s life that some have to scramble just to buy.
In a poll done on debate.org “ShouldWomen Be Able to Get Feminine Hygiene Products for Free?” 77% of people thinkthat women’s hygiene products should be free 23% are opposed to this. Oneargument for people voting no was that they are a luxury item. I know that inthe 1880s the pad was invented and before that there was the belt, and beforethat, they didn’t use anything. But just like tampons and pads, why aren’tcondoms considered luxury items? We don’t technically need condoms I know theyare here to prevent STDs, but people don’t need to have sex. People also saidthat if feminine hygiene products were free that the stores would go broke.
Dothey not sell other things? Last I knew they sold bread, juice, pasta, chips,gum, shoes, clothes, and other things. Tell me how would a store go broke ifpads and tampons were free? They would not. For many, many reasons tamponsshould be free. I don’t believe they are a luxury for women periods are not fun,it’s not like we sign up to have our periods.
My friends, my sisters, even mymom have missed school because of their periods. Girls, in Kenya, India, Nepal,and many more, have missed school or even dropped out because they cannotafford the necessities that they need to have the proper feminine products. Periodsare just like a medical condition. We cannot just keep acting like women don’thave periods.
Speak up about menstruation make your opinions known. If wecannot get the free tampons, why can’t we get them for cheaper instead of the 5-8dollars for them? If boys had their periods we wouldn’t even have to talk aboutthis.