Let’s Discuss The Tampon Tax…

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This piece comes to you today courtesy of a period induced stupor in which I have already devoured every piece of junk food within arms reach, and cried uncontrollably at Netflix until my sore eyes couldn’t take anymore.

Exhausted by my own emotions and aching from head to toe, I feel that I am mentally in the perfect place to discuss the Tampon Tax. I think one needs to be suitably enraged by their menstrual predicament before tackling such a topic – even though I usually avoid any type of debate when my uterus is fit to burst for concern that I may go into a full breakdown.  So, with that said, are you sitting comfortably? Or, as comfortably as one can when bleeding profusely?

The Tampon Tax, as it has been aptly named, refers to the fact that in many countries around the globe, tampons and female sanitary items are not tax exempt as they do not classify as a ‘necessity’ item. Just to highlight the ridiculousness of the law, let me bring it to your attention that CAKE is not taxable. Meaning that cake is considered a ‘necessity’ whilst tampons are not. Ordinarily I would not debate that cake is a necessary item, but in this instance, I will stay consistent and agree on the absurdity of cake as a necessity.

Now, I am sure you don’t need me to tell you how necessary feminine sanitary items are. In fact, nobody should need to explain how necessary they are. It should be rather straightforward to assume that every woman in the world doesn’t voluntarily buy tampons once a month for the thrill of it. It should be blindingly obvious that women don’t enjoy bleeding like a murder victim for days on end, only to soak it all up with a glorified cotton pad. So, why on earth are sanitary items labelled ‘luxury’ by the tax man?

Maybe, that is it. The tax MAN. Since the dawn of time, men have been terrified of women’s menstrual cycles, despite the fact that they wouldn’t be here on this planet today if it wasn’t for the monthly flow. In turn, this has promoted periods as a taboo subject which can only be discussed in hushed whispers after performing a secret handshake. In the world of men, women on their period become a nightmare scenario and heaven FORBID that all the women in a man’s life sync. How is a man to cope when such a disaster strikes?

Well, he isn’t. This may be a fun time to just insert a little – rather nauseating – fact for you: many men in this world believe that the size guide on tampons is reflective of the vagina size and not the weight of the flow. The full statistics for this are yet to be drawn up, but even so, you cannot say you are not surprised. Anyway, but back to the matter at hand…

Tampons. Tampons. Tampons. Tax. Tax. Tax. Two things that provoke emotions of sheer frustration, anger and upset. Combine the two and you have a legitimate problem. Canada realised this in 2015, which is when they scraped the ignorant tax. Yet, another reason to move to Canada. Ireland has levied no tax on tampons for many years. It turns out that the elusive pot at the end of that rainbow, contains tampons. England taxed tampons at 17.5% until 2000, when it was reduced to 5% (the lowest the EU allows the tax to fall on female sanitary items) after MP Dawn Primarolo campaigned for fairness. It’s worth noting that Dawn has been knighted, so there is at least some right in this world. Australia maintains a 10% tax on sanitary items, whilst in the U.S only thirteen out of the fifty states have tax free sanitary items. Alarmingly, it was determined that in California alone, every woman pays $7 over 40 years towards the Tampon Tax, which once accumulated provides $20 million in annual taxes.

So, perhaps that finally explains it. Money. Does the Tampon Tax just exploit womens vulnerability to something they cannot control? Are governments across the globe profiteering from periods? It certainly isn’t the first and won’t be the last time that women are subjected to such injustice. If a majority of the world’s leaders were women, would this still be on the political agenda of issues to address?

Now, that I have that out of my system, I shall resume to watching Netflix with a large box of Jaffa Cakes… wait, Jaffa Cakes are tax free?! Brilliant.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviaWTGH

(Artwork via @thepoopculture)