Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

The tampon tax. Occasionally also known as the “pink tax,” this economic policy is one that all vagina-owners must deal with at least once a month. In the United States, menstrual products are still being taxed as “luxury” items in states that don’t tax medical and health supplies. 

Now, I cannot speak for everyone, but I am certain that most women and people I know with vaginas do not consider their period to be a luxurious thing. In fact, many would even go as far as to say that it is a hellish nightmare. So why is it still being taxed under this false category? Many states over the past couple of years have asked the same question and found there to be no justifiable answer. So, seventeen states have repealed the tax on pads and tampons. This is an incredible victory. However, the work is not over. Thirty-three states still have yet to get behind the movement towards progress, claiming to not understand why vagina-owners everywhere are so furious about the tax. 

There are three main arguments to get into, the first being the sheer cost. Every year, California women alone bring in twenty million dollars in tax money from menstrual products. This means that across the United States, the average woman spends about seven dollars per month on period products. However, this statistic fails to take into account many other factors. For example, most people with vaginas do not only use one form of period product as their flow changes, so they buy multiple products, thus upping the charge. In addition to this, they must suffer the side effects of the menstrual cycle, enduring symptoms such as cramps, headache, body ache, etc., which end up requiring the purchase of pain medication such as Advil or Tylenol. Adding all of this together results in an astronomical charge for something that cannot be controlled.

This leads to the next argument against this tax: what are impoverished or homeless people with vaginas meant to do? The cost of merely having a menstrual cycle in this society is already incredibly high. For those without money to spend on these “luxury” items, they may have to choose between other necessities and basic hygiene. This is absolutely absurd. Our society claims to be progressive and one of the best for gender equality, and yet we tax people simply for the genitalia they possess, leading to them having to make decisions they should never have to make. Ultimately, this boils down to one thing: the tampon tax punishes women and vagina owners simply for existing. It sends the message that the female body is something to be commodified, that money can be made off of it, while simultaneously punishing it for what it is. 

This all leads back to the inherent gender bias in the United States. We penalize women for a pure and innocent process that society has dictated is disgusting and indecent: their periods. While condemning the menstrual cycle, our patriarchal society profits off of it in a truly despicable form of irony. It creates an economy out of something that women and vagina owners cannot control. This attitude lingers in American society like a disease, but it can be cured. Seventeen states have already done so. The legislation was moving quickly in 2018 to change the luxury tax on tampons, but it seems to have been lost in the chaos of our world today. However, if this movement can once again gain public attention, perhaps we can make a change in this economic injustice.

 

Sources: 

https://www.npr.org/2018/03/25/564580736/more-states-move-to-end-tampon-tax-that-s-seen-as-discriminating-against-women

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/08/the-tampon-tax-explained/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37365286 

 

 

Madeline Landa is in the class of 2024 at the College of Charleston and is loving being a part of the Honors College, Honors Leadership Fellows Society, and the International Scholars program. To say the least, she's trying to emulate beloved Parks and Recreation character Leslie Knope as hard as she can (minus the waffles obsession). Some of her favorite activities include fighting the urge to scroll through TikTok, wandering around near the ocean, and painting terribly.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️