It’s Not Just the Tampon Tax: Why Periods Are Political

The typical girl has her interval for two,535 days of her life. That’s almost seven years’ time of constructing positive you might have a pad or tampon, discovering a makeshift answer in the event you don’t, and managing ache and discomfort.

And these days, girls — and transgender and nonbinary individuals who menstruate — are speaking about it in public greater than ever earlier than. There are new services and products available on the market, from menstrual cups to interval underwear to medicinal hashish and “interval coaches.” Globally, advocates are pushing for recognition of a lady’s proper to handle her interval with dignity. And in the US, activists are bringing the idea of “menstrual fairness” into the general public debate.

Let’s unpack that.

“Menstrual fairness” refers to equal entry to hygiene merchandise, but in addition to schooling about reproductive well being. And it’s the main focus of a wide range of new legal guidelines and insurance policies to supply menstrual merchandise in prisons, shelters, colleges and even on Capitol Hill.

Advocates are additionally urging states to exempt menstrual hygiene merchandise from gross sales tax, arguing that they’re a necessity.

A frequent chorus: Why are tampons taxed when Viagra will not be?

Elevated media protection and a few high-profile episodes — like Kiran Gandhi bleeding freely as she ran the London Marathon in 2015 and a backlash over Instagram deleting a photo of a period stain — have accelerated the shift.

Last month, a member of Britain’s Parliament announced in the House of Commons that she was menstruating, to make a point about “period poverty.”

And most recently, a New York congressman got into a spat with House administrators over whether or not he may expense $37.16 price of tampons for his workers and guests.

Right here’s an outline of the problems that girls’s well being advocates are speaking about.

The battle for equal entry to menstrual merchandise

Legal guidelines in a number of states now mandate entry to menstrual merchandise in correctional services, shelters and colleges. Two jail reform payments within the Senate — together with the First Step Act, which is backed by the White Home — embody provisions on entry to menstrual hygiene merchandise, after complaints that the services weren’t offering an sufficient provide. And the Justice Division directed federal prisons to supply inmates with free menstrual merchandise final 12 months.

Within the Home, Consultant Grace Meng, Democrat of New York, has launched two associated payments. One goals to make durations extra inexpensive, partly by permitting workers to make use of versatile spending accounts to purchase pads and tampons, and requiring corporations with greater than 100 workers to supply them. The opposite would require producers to reveal components in such merchandise.

“Curiosity on this challenge grows each single day,” Ms. Meng mentioned. “It’s actually about accessibility and fairness.”

That’s the identical argument that Consultant Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York, made after he was ordered to reimburse the Committee on Home Administration for menstrual merchandise.

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