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Texas, others should follow NYC’s lead on free tampons

Texas, others should follow NYC’s lead on free tampons

July 04
22:04 2016

Morgan Sullivan | Staff Writer

@sadsquadch

New York City made history last month after passing the nation’s first legislation that ensures access to menstrual products in public schools, shelters and correctional facilities. For those who don’t have to deal with periods, this may not seem like a big deal, but for those who suffer through Mother Nature’s cruel punishment month after month, this was a long awaited victory.

Being a girl going through puberty is awkward enough. Your boobs get bigger, you start growing hair in places you didn’t really want hair and, worst of all, you start bleeding with no prior warning. It can strike at any time, and for many, that time happens to be at school.

Imagine sitting in class, when all of a sudden, the Niagara Falls of periods begins. A gushing wave of red, sticky mess is happening in an uncomfortable area, and if you can’t find a tampon ASAP, everyone is going to know it.

If you’re lucky enough, someone you know came to class well equipped. Many girls carry extra equipment just in case. However, imagine a world where none of this panic was necessary. You could walk into any women’s bathroom and find a cabinet well-stocked with anything you’d need – for free.

Many people who don’t experience the menstrual cycle don’t understand why New York City’s newest legislation is so groundbreaking. In an era where talking about women’s reproduction is still very taboo, NYC is standing up for women everywhere. New York is one of many states that pushed to abolish its “tampon tax.” Unfortunately, for those who are struggling, saving mere pennies isn’t enough. The cost of pads or tampons is around $10 a month, an expense that many cannot afford.

It seems as if condoms are passed around in every high school and college, and are freely available in clinics. When menstrual products are rarely (if ever) given away, society sends the message that safe sex – which is a choice – is more acceptable than a bodily function.

New York’s agenda emphasizes menstrual product access in the most vulnerable populations: schools, shelters and correctional facilities. Where toilet paper is available in every restroom, menstrual products are not. Pads and tampons are just as necessary and should be just as easily obtained. You don’t have to pay for toilet paper, so paying $1.50 for one tampon is a ridiculous fee.

This legislation is so important because it starts a dialogue. The problem causing the disconnection between women’s health and government is that women are often not at the helm of decisions. Men are making decisions with no firsthand experience of how things work. The “tampon tax” that many states have deems tampons and pads as a “luxury.” Anyone who has experienced a period knows this is untrue.

“Wait, you mean that if you don’t go, you’ll just keep on bleeding? I thought that women could turn it off any time that they wanted!” is a quote from a male state representative one Tumblr user interned for.

The scary fact is, there are grown men in the world who don’t understand the menstrual cycle. They don’t want to. They assume women are overdramatic about their experiences because women are stereotyped to be weaker than men. 

By passing legislation that makes menstrual products widely available, women in government are forcing their male counterparts to listen and understand why this is important. NYC’s agenda will set an example for other states to follow. Other countries will follow.

Women’s health shouldn’t be taboo. Although the U.S. still has many strides to take, there are women in underdeveloped countries who still have to bleed onto a rag. There are women in countries that teach them to be ashamed of their periods. If the U.S. is truly an example for the rest of the world to follow, our government must ensure women are treated fairly under the law.

The revolution of women’s health starts now. No more allowing men to make decisions about our bodies. No more telling young women not to talk about periods because it’s “gross.” It’s time women take a stand. New York is our city upon a hill. It’s time we let the light shine.

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