During the summer of 2016, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio signed a law making tampons and pads free and accessible for public schools, women’s shelters, and women’s jails.
First things first, feminine hygiene products are not cheap and have never truly been cheap. We have to stock up monthly. I know a few women who stock up a few months worth of supplies ahead of time to try and save money. Unsurprisingly, according to Huffington Post, periods will cost us roughly $18,171 over our lifetime. That “pink tax” we hear so much about unfortunately hits us where we hurt. Literally.
Despite the current attacks on women’s reproductive health rights, to hear that such a big city like New York City was making progressive steps against the stigma of periods was a breath of fresh air. See, uterus-having humans have no control over their periods. It comes monthly, being either light, heavy, or somewhere in between, sometimes when we don’t expect it, sometimes when we do, and it’s not easy to deal with. Some have it much worse than others, especially those with reproductive complications like PCOS and endometriosis. We’re constantly on alert, hoping for no ruined pants or bed sheets that will cost us even more money to replace. A law like this will allow those faced with “that time of the month” to have access to necessities without worrying about cost.
People with periods shouldn’t have to pay for a biological process they have no control over. We didn’t ask to have our uterine lining shed every month. We didn’t ask to spend a couple hundred dollars a year on tampons or pads. But we have to. If men can have Viagra covered by most insurances, why shouldn’t our cost for tampons or pads be non existent, or–at the very least–reduced dramatically?