Let’s talk about the “tampon tax.” It’s a topic that’s been making headlines for years, and for good reason. Simply put, the tampon tax is a sales tax on menstrual products like tampons, pads, and liners. But why is this a problem, and what can we do about it?

First of all, let’s address the obvious: menstruation is a natural bodily function that half the population experiences on a regular basis. It’s not a luxury, a choice, or a frivolous expense. It’s a basic fact of life. And yet, in many states and countries around the world, menstrual products are considered “luxury items” and are taxed accordingly.

This is a problem for several reasons. For one, it creates a financial burden for people who menstruate. According to a survey by the menstrual hygiene company Thinx, the average person who menstruates spends around $150 a year on menstrual products. For low-income individuals and families, that can be a significant expense. By taxing menstrual products, governments are essentially putting an extra financial burden on people who are already struggling to make ends meet.

But it’s not just a matter of money. The tampon tax also perpetuates harmful societal attitudes toward menstruation. By treating menstrual products as luxury items, we’re sending the message that menstruation is something to be ashamed of, something to hide, something that’s not worthy of basic necessities like food and shelter. This stigma can have serious consequences, from limiting access to education and job opportunities to exacerbating mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

So what can we do about it? One solution is to advocate for the removal of the tampon tax. In recent years, several states and countries have taken steps to do just that. In 2016, for example, New York became the first state in the U.S. to eliminate the tampon tax. Since then, several other states have followed suit, as have countries like Canada and Australia. By raising awareness about the tampon tax and pushing for legislative change, we can work towards a more equitable and just society.

But there’s another solution, too: we can work to destigmatize menstruation altogether. By talking openly and honestly about menstruation, we can break down the harmful societal attitudes that contribute to the tampon tax in the first place. We can celebrate menstruation as a natural and essential part of life, rather than treating it as something to be ashamed of or hidden away. We can support menstrual equity initiatives that provide free or low-cost menstrual products to those in need, and work to ensure that all people who menstruate have access to the resources they need to manage their periods with dignity and respect.

The tampon tax is just one small piece of a larger puzzle when it comes to menstrual equity. But by working together to remove this regressive and unnecessary tax, and by changing the way we think and talk about menstruation more broadly, we can create a world where everyone is able to manage their periods without fear, shame, or financial hardship. And that’s a world worth fighting for.

About the author

Alice Cash is the Marketing Manager for Jubilance by day and an award winning Theatre Director by night.  Leading the podcast Weekly Woman, she loves her candid conversations with women from all over the world about how they live and the amazing things they are doing to make a difference. Alice is also the editor of the bi-monthly newsletter the Jubilee, a blog dedicated to the power of female wellness especially concerning menstruation.  She’s worked in France creating theatre pieces and taught drama and filmmaking to women and children in Haiti.  She graduated from Georgetown University and holds two master degrees from NYU and The New School.  Alice has traveled to  40+ countries, including Tibet.  She is a New Yorker and can often be found in Central Park, searching out the best bubble tea, or directing a play, you never know where she’ll show up. @alicesadventuresinwonderworld
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