Living in the 21st century, a time when it seems that women are advancing in society and breaking more societal barriers, it is often easy to forget that there is still more progress to make for the societal, political, and economic equality of the sexes. There are often aspects of our society that cause me to wonder if we have made enough progress for the pursuit of this equality. The sales tax on feminine hygiene products is an aspect of society that makes me realize there is still much work to be done in order to reach equality on a systemic level.
For those of you who may not know, there is a sales tax on feminine hygiene products. This includes pads, tampons, panty liners, and menstrual cups. The reason that this tax on feminine hygiene products is so unethical is that it takes advantage of half the population over a product that is already costly and an important necessity for people who menstruate.
According to the Huffington Post article, “Here’s How Much A Woman’s Period Will Cost Her Over A Lifetime” Jessica Kane outlines the growing costs of buying menstrual products over a woman’s lifetime. For example, a box of tampons cost roughly $7.00 dollars, which may not seem like a lot, but the average woman has roughly 456 periods throughout her lifetime, and with the added fact that tampons need to be changed every 4 to 6 hours in order to avoid TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome), the cost will add up. Kane did the math and came up with the grand total of $1,773.33 over a lifetime. And this is only for tampons. This cost does not include that of pads, panty liners, or other costs that people incur in general due to their period, such as new underwear and pain relievers.
Now, this may not seem terrible but when you consider the financial barriers women already have in society, this tax does impact them in a costly way. As of 2020, a woman makes 81.6 cents to a man’s dollar, which is unjust alone, but especially when you consider that a man does not need to spend $1,773.33 throughout his lifetime on tampons. In addition, women are more likely to hold multiple part-time jobs in comparison to men, and 56% of single women with children are in the lowest income group. It is evident that women already have many financial hoops to jump through as members of today’s society, making this sales tax cruel and unjust as feminine hygiene products are a bare necessity.
I understand that taxes are an inevitable part of our capitalist society, but if millionaires and billionaires, members of the 1%, were able to receive tax cuts for something as flamboyant and unnecessary as a private jet in the 2017 GOP tax bill, I would say that making feminine hygiene products, an actual necessity for half the population, tax-exempt is not at all impractical, but just. It is unfair to further cripple a portion of society that is already at a disadvantage in terms of pay and overall equity. Women deserve better. This tax needs to go.