Bleeding money for feminine hygiene products

My least favorite part about having a period isn’t curling into a fetal position to ward off cramps, or the way my face flares up with bright red acne. It’s not even the nausea-inducing headaches that make it difficult to focus on the simplest of tasks. Rather, it’s the fact that I will always have to dedicate a chunk of my budget toward spending money on pads and tampons to ensure I don’t become a public safety hazard. 

Commonly referred to as the “tampon tax,” this sales tax only affects people who menstruate. According to Global Citizen, menstruators spend an average of $1,773 on period products in their lifetime, prompting a recent pushback to eliminate the tampon tax. It should go without saying that bleeding is not a luxury, and it’s unethical to force people with periods to spend an extra amount of money on necessary products, especially when this money could go toward other resources. 

Although most states agree that the tampon tax shouldn’t be in effect, there has been little action to revoke it, even in areas with the most opposition to this law. Perhaps the most performative way of abolishing the tampon tax is California’s 2020 law—a temporary, two-year act that exempts residents from paying menstrual taxes. If anything, this law is more geared towards pacifying opponents of the tampon tax, ultimately halting the process of making menstrual products more accessible and affordable. However, since the tax is a big source of revenue for the state, the law was recently brought back to the table this January.

Aside from the California law, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a bill to provide free period products in the 2022-2023 school year—a major step towards providing menstrual products for students. 

At Diamond Bar High School, sanitary products are available—at the cost of 25 cents. However, due to the unpredictable nature of periods, carrying around spare change in the event you might get your period isn’t at the forefront of someone’s mind. Afterall, parents usually provide money for these products in the first place, and on the chance that someone doesn’t have a pad or tampon, the obvious solution to some would be to ask for the money to buy one—or to just ask someone for the menstrual product itself—but people with periods shouldn’t have to ask for something they require in the first place.

The same concept can be applied to the free lunches the school provides: being hungry isn’t a choice, so we recognize that making people pay for food is unfair. Similarly, people don’t choose to menstruate, and, if they’re too embarrassed to ask for  money to buy a pad or tampon from the bathrooms, the blame shouldn’t be shifted onto the person but onto those who withheld these menstrual products in the first place– in this instance, the school. 

Although purposely bleeding onto seats or one’s clothing is objectively unhygienic, some people consider waiting until they get home as the only socially acceptable option, especially if they’ve been taught that speaking about their periods, even to ask for a pad or tampon, is shameful. 

In order to combat the tampon tax, providing free menstrual products is a step in the right direction, but there’s still an issue of the tax being eliminated nationwide. Products such as pads and tampons are a necessary part of certain people’s lives, and they need to be treated as such.