Tampon Taxation (insert joke here)

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Last month, a debate was held over the taxation of tampons and other feminine hygiene products. The current Tory government, who are in favour of the taxation of tampons, won this debate with 305 votes to 287 opposed to the taxation and so people who have periods all over the UK were reminded that their periods are a duty to the country, as well as a status symbol, due to tampons’ luxury status.

Every month, I get my period and I thank not only God, but also Jesus that my status as a Gold Star Period Haver remains unblemished and that I get to treat myself to a lovely box of tampons, or a pack of sanitary towels. It really is a joy in life knowing that not only does the entire world get to see me in my natural state – grumpy, in pain and absurdly hungry – but also that I then have the pleasure of shopping for a little pink box with polka dots all over it that costs as much as what I would normally fritter away on useless things like ‘food’ and ‘coffee’. I get to go to bed at night worrying about the state of my sheets in the morning and I get to do a massive load of laundry at the end of the week. I also get the chance to become a pro at getting stains out of underwear and god knows that’s something that I, as a period haver, get to use in any future job I may wish to do.

As anybody who has seen an advert on TV for tampons or sanitary towels knows, a period is a blissful thing, full of singing and dancing. Any viewer of these adverts also knows that periods are exclusively blue and that having a period is exactly the same as tipping a cup of water onto an absorbent pad. No period haver has ever said that their period hurts them, or has made them faint, or that it drives certain emotions into overdrive due to this pain or a general anaemic response. This is, of course, why sanitary products are taxed and count as a luxury item. Having a period is a luxury, akin to something like having a bubble bath or a limited edition Lindt strawberries and cream Lindor.

Of course, it would be unfair and neglectful of myself, as a person who experiences a period every month, to ignore the plight of those who buy men’s razors constantly, so that their unfashionable neckbeards don’t get in the way of their very important business. How can I, a privileged person with a period, possibly understand how difficult it must be to have hair on your face that impedes your daily life (not just once a month, like my amazing period affects me)? It must be extremely difficult to feel self-conscious about not being clean shaven and having people constantly assume that your bad mood is due to your beard. It’s just ridiculous; those who have to shave are reduced to just the hair on their face and how emotional it makes them. That’s why razors labelled as being ‘for men’ aren’t taxed; their use is such a basic concept and needs to be so, for those who need to

shave so that they are not singled out by others and are able to deal with their hair problem as a basic right. To tax them for this would be terrible and it’s good that there is no debate around whether these things should be taxed or not.

The fact that there was even a debate held about the taxation of tampons in the first place is laughable: so what if they’re expensive? It’s not as a great portion of period havers make less money for no reason other than what gender they are perceived to be by others, or that alongside the purchase of tampons comes other things like purchase of paracetamol, food to help increased hunger, or other soothing devices such as heating pads. Everything about periods is cheap and nobody ever loses time due to the tiredness that comes along with it. It is abundantly clear that periods never affect anybody who has them and so it is only right that tampons remain taxed for the benefit of all who experience them.

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Helen Edworthy is a former News & Comment Editor at bathimpact (2013/14). She writes about student and equality issues, popular culture and the University of Bath.

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