Like half the people on this planet, I have a vagina. I bleed from my vagina on a monthly basis during something called a menstrual cycle. Does my bluntness disgust or startle you? Get over it. I am not ashamed of my body and I am not afraid to be blunt about its natural, gross, beautiful, complex and remarkable processes. No person should be made to feel ashamed about their bodies.
Let’s be real. People with vaginas—and I say that because not every person with a vagina identifies as female or as a woman—are forced to spend hundreds of dollars on tampons, pads, menstrual cups and other period-related products every year. On average, we spend about $6,000 on feminine hygiene products in our lifetimes. I’m tired of spending so much money and frankly, ashamed to be part of a society that shames people with vaginas for their bodies and natural processes. The products we use to deal with our menstrual cycles are not luxury items and we do not enjoy spending our well-earned dollars on them—They are necessities. And yet, forty states charge sales tax on these essential items, including our beloved Washington. To add insult injury, items that aren’t taxed include snack foods like potato chips. What a necessity, right? Cue eye roll.
Only five states—Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania—do not tax feminine hygiene products. This summer, the Canadian parliament voted unanimously to eliminate a national tax on menstrual products and citizens in the U.K. and Australia are currently insisting that their governments do the same. The United States needs to follow suit.
Currently, more than 30,000 people have signed the petition “Stop Taxing Periods. Period,” on Change.org and only about 5,000 more people are needed to reach the goal. I urge everyone to sign the petition and to not stop there. The taxes currently in place are not equal and fair, and are just one example of the many policies that further subjugate marginalized groups. It’s as simple as that. Period.
—Melissa Lin, Editor in Chief