February 13, 2016

Why would a feminine hygiene product like tampons be taxed as 'luxury' items? I doubt any woman thinks the monthly period they must endure for several decades is something they look forward to and can't wait to drop $7-$15 or more on a box of them. So why are they taxed as if a woman can choose whether to have her period?

President Obama, who is surrounded by women at home, knows that the laws were likely made by male legislators. I'd wager most of them likely find women's issues icky and gross. They think nothing of suggesting that these females should pay a little extra for the 'privilege' of being a woman.

YouTube star, Ingrid Nilsen sat down with President Obama and addressed this concern.

NILSEN: I don't know anyone who has a period that thinks it's a luxury.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think that's fair to say. Michelle would agree with you on that.

NILSEN: Because it's something that's part of our everyday lives and it's really crucial to our health as women.

Democratic California Assemblywoman, Cristina Garcia has co-sponsored legislation to put an end to this gender-based tax inequity.

“Effectively we are being taxed for being born as women,” Garcia stated. “AB 1561 is about social justice, gender equity in our tax code, it's an opportunity to end an outdated tax that uniquely targets women for a function of their body, a function we don't control and can’t ignore every month of our adult life."

This issue is gaining steam all over the nation thanks to Garcia's efforts. The Washington Post explains:

On average, according to Garcia's office, women in California pay about $7 per month for 40 years of tampons and sanitary napkins. Statewide, it adds up "over $20 million annually in taxes," according to a news release.

These products, her office said, "are a basic necessity" that should not be taxed; it's especially "unjust" since the tax only impacts women who are already suffering on the wrong end of the gender wage gap.

Tampons (and similar products) are tax-exempt in only a handful of states, including Maryland and New Jersey.

Credit: Washington Post

Perfectly illustrating the inherent misogyny in the legislation of women's issues, look no further than the State of Utah.

International debate over the so-called "tampon tax" -- whether tampons and other feminine hygiene products should be tax-free -- has made its way to conservative Utah, where a bill is set to be heard by a committee made up of only men.

Governments that make money this way penalize women for their biology, some say. That perspective has picked up momentum, with at least five U.S. states dumping taxes on such products.

Feminine hygiene products should be considered necessities - like medicine and food - not luxuries, said Stephanie Pitcher with the Utah Women's Coalition.

In an effort to make this issue more palatable to everyone, especially skittish men, proponents of the anti-feminine tax have proposed making adult incontinence products and diapers also tax-free. Hopefully, this will give the measure a fighting chance with Utah Republicans, who comprise the majority of the state's government. The sponsor of the Utah bill, Susan Duckworth (D) isn't terribly optimistic about its chances.

Some critics have dismissively dubbed state Rep. Susan Duckworth's proposal "the tampon bill."

Duckworth said she worries that nickname may hurt the bill's chances during a hearing that could come this week before a tax committee in Utah's House of Representatives.

"I'm going into an all-male committee, and I just don't believe they're going to have much sympathy," she said.

It may seem like a small matter, but this is another metric of the inherent misogyny in this country. Sadly, we're bested by our northern neighbor, who seems to surpass the U.S.A. with superior social progress. Canada removed taxes on feminine hygiene products last year, thanks to unanimous political support. Imagine if we could stop worrying about walling off our Mexican neighbors to our south and look to our north and embrace a little Canadian progress... one can dream.

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