Would You Like A Tampon With That?

Let's be honest—

If I had to pay twenty-five cents every time I used toliet paper in public restrooms, I'd be.......well, screwed. Yet, I find myself face-to-face with a cold, metal box that reminds me every day—being a woman in this world comes with a price (twenty-five cents to be exact, or more if you're unlucky). 

Charging women for feminine hygiene products has many implications. Similar to reproductive health, menstruation remains a taboo topic in our society. It's easier to sweep it under the rug (or into the bathroom), than to have open convserations about it. The discourse of sex and menstruation is reinforced each time tampons are confined to female bathrooms and "period talk" remains hushed. As easy as it'd be to blame men for their role in this, there is an unawareness we must change through educating those unaffected by female menstruation.

I'll never forget watching the TedTalk "Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders" by Sheryl Sandberg. In the video, she explains a memorable meeting within a male-dominated workplace where she asked for directions to the women's restroom during a break. She was stunned when the CEO appeared hesistant to answer, explaining that he didn't know. "How long have you been in this office?" she asked, as he replied "a year"—Sandberg realizing not one woman had stepped into their office yet. It wasn't intentional sexism, but rather simply innocent oblivion. This example raises a lot of red flags, but to me, it shows we have a job to bring awareness to an important issue in our society.

Tax people where a tax can be placed. So why not feminine hygiene products? You'll never find yourself paying for soap or toliet paper or the ability to dry your hands, yet so many places are still charging women for menstruation products. Women aren't asking for their periods the same way they're not asking to go #1 or #2, but feminine hygiene products are pushed into the category of luxuries. Having protection isn't a luxury; having protection is a right. 

As a white, privileged, middle-class woman, I'll admit I don't have to worry about access to feminine hygiene products the same way other women do. Homelessness and menstruation is an issue that deserves the world of attention, yet receives so little. It's not something many of us have to worry about, so it's easy to ignore. Having free products in women's bathrooms isn't just for me, it's for the young girl living on the streets who just got her period for the first time; it's for the mother of three who struggles to provide for her family; it's for your cousin; it's for your friend; it's for your sister. How do we expect women to be leaders, heroes, wives, mothers when they first have to worry about if they're bleeding through? We must empower the women in our lives, and that starts with access and a right to their own comfort.

Free the tampon.

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