Tampon Tax Revealing Patriarchy

Monthly periods are physically, emotionally, socially taxing, and on top of that, financially taxing. Across the United States, tampons and other feminine hygiene products are considered “luxury items,” or products deemed not necessary for everyday life, thus applicable for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) with an extra 5% added to the cost of the item. Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are the states that do not tax tampons, and last year, Canada stopped taxing feminine hygiene products altogether. 

Just this past February, a bill aiming to eliminate this tampon tax in the state of Utah was completely eradicated by an all-male board, allowing the tax to continue to be implemented. Women live in a world where we pay to bleed. We are seeing red.

In Utah, Democratic State Representative Susan Duckworth proposed “The Tampon Bill,” meant to remove the unnecessary tax on tampons as well as taxes on other adult incontinence products such as sanitary napkins and adult diapers. This bill was proposed to an all-male committee primarily of Republican lawmakers in Salt Lake City and, in a vote of 8 to 3, was completely thrown out. Normally, it’s Republicans who are looking to cut taxes, but in this case, it is a female Democrat. Why don’t Republicans want this cut? It seems as though women specifically are being targeted by men in power through this tax. 

It is unclear as to how a group of men can speak for a topic pertaining specifically to women, their anatomy, and their hygiene. According to these men and their decision, they are not looking to open the door on other tax exemptions, just like no one wants to face the reality of menstruation and what that means for society.

We as women have the right to personal hygiene that these men just do not understand. Who would consider tampons a luxury item? Someone who never has the need to use them. Tampons and other sanitary objects are necessities to women, just like groceries and prescription drugs. Toilet paper is tax free because we all use it. Why are periods seen as entirely unimportant and thus taxable? Because only women, roughly half the population, the other end of the wage gap, get them? We need to eliminate this tax to protect women who aren’t as economically privileged as these men in Utah: homeless women, women living in poverty, teenage girls who struggle to afford tampons, who want to go to school and not stain the backs of their pants. 

These laws profit off of women’s bodies, but then again, when are women's bodies not used for profit? This paradox is so evident in the tampon tax that it’s almost humorous. Think about women who can’t breastfeed in public amidst advertisements sexualizing breasts in order to make money. In this case, though, it is happening in our government. And we are the ones who have to pay.