Most likely at some point in their life, every female between the ages of 12-50 have quietly whispered to another female, “Hey, do you have a tampon on you?”
Women’s menstrual products, such as tampons and pads, are a necessity to females. The discussion of a woman’s menstrual cycle typically is not the hottest topic to discuss, but it is a part of human nature for every woman and is unavoidable.
According to an article written by Inside Higher Ed, this year Columbia University announced that it would begin providing free tampons in its health center. Alongside Columbia, student activists at the University of Arizona have issued a list of demands that include urging the university to provide free tampons and menstrual pads on campus.
Eastern Michigan University currently offers free tampons, pads and panty liners on campus at both the Women’s Resource Center and Snow Health Center.
“I think it's important because it is a resource that women need. Often women who do not have access to resources off-campus have no way of getting tampons and feminine hygiene products. This is something that is in high-demand, so getting it to EMU students is crucial. This is just one of the many ways that EMU and the WRC want to support women,” said Abigail Allman, the Education and Community Outreach Assistant at the WRC.
“Having options on what you want to use further empowers women, so we want to keep as many options as possible. We also have educational material on other feminine hygiene products, such as the Diva Cup,” said Allman.
Many students feel that having feminine products on campus is important, especially in a case of emergency.
“They should be free for various reasons like health, money and timing. These things are unexpected and by campuses proving them will help women feel a lot better depending on the time of the month,” said Brianna Scott, a senior education major at EMU.
An argument that many college students across the country are making in order to push their universities to provide free feminine products is that no one should have to be afraid or caught off guard when their period starts just because they do not have the products they need at that moment.
“[Tampons] are hugely necessary to half the student body and those students shouldn’t be deprived of their hygiene simply because they may be tight on funds,” said Grace Dueweke, a sophomore apparel and textile merchandising major at EMU.
Students aren’t the only ones concerned about costly feminine products. In addition to fighting for free tampons on college campuses, women across the country are also beginning to fight against what is being called the “pink tax.”
The pink tax refers to the extra amount women are charged for certain products or services such as dry cleaning, personal care products and vehicle maintenance.
“Tampons should be tax free because majority of women are using tampons in this day and age,” said Scott.
According to a 1996 survey done in California by Mic, adjusted for inflation, it will cost a woman with a moderate priority of grooming and personal hygiene roughly $100,000 over the course of her lifetime.
Change.org has started a global online petition to repeal policies in countries around the world that tax sanitary products for women, according to an article in the Detroit Free Press. Canada eliminated its tampon tax last July.
In New York, five women sued the state tax department earlier this month, arguing that the sales tax on feminine hygiene products violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. constitution.
As of last year, a total of 40 states still have sales tax placed on feminine products—five states have eliminated the tax and five others have no state sales tax in place at all. Michigan continues to tax feminine products.
“Groceries are tax-exempt in this state because they are labeled as necessity. Menstrual products are also a necessity for basic hygiene, but are being taxed as if they are luxury items and that doesn’t make sense,” said Dueweke.