Right now, one of the most salient issues facing not only America, but all over the world is women’s rights. The fight for women’s equality has slowly progressed, but not enough. One issue holding us back from progressing even further is the tax on feminine hygiene products.
In the beginning of this year, two assemblywomen, Ling Ling Chang and Christina Garcia, proposed a bill to repeal the tax on feminine hygiene products. As of now, pads, tampons, and sanitary napkins are considered a “luxury” tax where as other items, such as food and other items used for daily living are considered “essential.” So, why are Snickers bars and Doritos considered essential, but something a woman needs in order to stay sanitary while she’s menstruating, which is something that she doesn’t choose to do, a luxury? According to the Huffington Post, it is estimated that on average each girl spends about $5,400 throughout her lifetime on feminine hygiene products. Collectively that’s about $2 million a year that women spend… just for being female.
A few weeks ago, I attended an event in Sacramento held by California YMCA called Youth and Government. During this event, I went to a feminism meeting called Female Leaders in Power aka “FLIP.” Chang was one of the panelists at this event and after realizing that she’s one of the women that wrote this proposal, I had to talk to her. She gave me her card and once I got back from the trip, I got in touch with her. I was able to communicate with Chang and her team, and was able to ask her questions not only about her proposal, but also about her experiences with being a woman in politics.
Like all proposals trying to be passed, there will be people who disagree you and try to debate.
“Some have attempted to compare this product with others that apply to one gender such as a neck tie,” said Chang. Many people are comparing tampons to a necktie, the biggest difference is you can choose whether or not to wear a necktie, but women don’t choose whether or not they get their period.
Of course, there will be people who try to argue against your proposal, but there are many people in support of this proposal. The Board of Equalization gave this proposal unanimous support. As for getting male support on this bill Chang says, “We have 28 other members who are co- authoring this bill who are men, and from both sides of the political spectrum.” She also said that being a woman in politics, she tries to ignore any barriers set in place because of her gender.
Being a high school student and brining this topic up in schools sparks a lot of conflict. A lot of male classmates try to make the argument that condoms are taxed, but they don’t understand that a period costs way more than a condom. Girls can go through two boxes of tampons throughout their period. A lot of students don’t fully understand the argument against the tax, Chang’s advice on how to spread the word is “Once you realize this is about women’s health, it’s hard not to take it seriously. These are our mothers, sisters, and daughters who are impacted by this issue. This is a very personal health issue, and so it is not always an easy topic to discuss, but the issue is real. Imagine a woman having to endure her day without feminine hygiene products? To get through a day at school or work? It’s simply not an option.”
The tax on tampons and other products needed to keep a woman sanitary during their menstrual cycle is unethical. It is a medical necessity. Without these women, we not only risk ridicule because of the pre-conceived idea that periods are viewed as “unnatural” for some males in schools, workplace, or even just out in public, but there is a serious risk of women getting life-threatening infections. Women should not be taxed just for being a woman. This massively affects low- income and homeless women. These women are spending money that they don’t have on something they don’t even ask for. Sure, there are places you can go and get free pads and tampons, but usually it isn’t enough. Women change their pad or tampon about 3-4 times a day for three to five days a month. Government funded places that supply free feminine hygiene products can’t always supply enough.
“This bill is also about tax relief for women. Collectively we pay $20 million in taxes on feminine hygiene products. By putting that money back in the hands of women, we are creating greater access to a very important health product – especially in low-income and homeless population,” said Chang.
I don’t see why women are being punished for getting periods. Support Chang, Garcia, and all females around the world in putting an end to the tampon tax.