Yesterday, Snapchat so generously graced us with a new filter depicting a group of cartoon females standing confidently atop our planet with the caption, “We Run the World.” Because of this filter, International Women’s Day was actually acknowledged by hundreds of social media users.
Now, while it’s sad enough that it took a Snapchat filter for college students to recognize this day and for women to show some pride in our gender, it is even sadder how quickly this filter became a form of mockery. It actually pains me to admit how many Snapchats I saw of females in “domestic” circumstances (cleaning the kitchen, making a sandwich, etc.) with this filter stamped on and a caption reading something along the lines of “what they do best.” This is not to mention the several college dudes who ignorantly slapped this filter onto their morning selfie and tauntingly sent it to me, their “crazy feminist friend.”
While Snapchat surely had the best intentions, its filter unfortunately became yet another means of debasing women – and, simply put, it pissed me off.
So, it is amidst all this buzz over International Women’s Day that I would like to relieve some of my frustration by simply discussing a different controversial subject – the tampon tax.
Ladies, imagine you’re in line at the pharmacy waiting to pick up a prescription. You’ve got a few other items to purchase – yogurt, some school supplies, and a box of tampons. A man stands in front of you empty handed, and as he approaches the counter, you hear him ask for his Viagra. While you may be chuckling to yourself, you should actually be fuming. Because that box of Viagra, USED TO ERECT LIMP PENISES, is tax free. Your box of tampons, however, is not.
Let me make this clear.
In the state of Wisconsin, there is a sales tax exemption for treating erectile dysfunction. Yet a 5% tax rate still exists for feminine hygiene products like pads and tampons, and this rate is as high as 7.5% in several other states.
However, Wisconsin Democratic Representative Melissa Sargent is trying to change this. She is currently sponsoring a bill for feminine hygiene products to be exempt from the state sales tax. Only five states have eliminated the tax on menstruation products (MD, MA, MN, PA, and NJ) and most others are resisting any repeal. Though the Food and Drug Administration considers tampons “medical devices,” most tax code statuses list them under “feminine hygiene” and thus not “intended for use, internally or externally, in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of illness or disease.”
While menstruation is certainly not a disease, feminine hygiene products are medically necessary products – unless you suggest another idea??? Women should not be forced to pay this tax on top of the average $1,773.33 they spend on tampons in their lifetime, ESPECIALLY while men pay ZERO taxes for Viagra.
To put it simply, men don’t have to pay to get hard, but women have to pay to be hygienic. Women have to pay extra to manage a biological process that we have no control over. Women have to pay to essentially keep hidden a process that is simply signaling to us that we aren’t pregnant.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
States are clearly not acknowledging the financial burden this tax creates for women. Menstrual health advocate Jennifer Weiss-Wolf suggests it’s “because they – being men – have never had to purchase tampons or pads.” Even President Obama has suggested that such tax laws only exist because “men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.”
But the U.S. leaves sales tax laws up to states, which is why this issue needs our attention. As Representative Melissa Sargent advocates for this bill, I implore all of you college students – men and women – to stay interested and informed on this movement.
Guys, if you’d like to be kept in the dark about what time of month it is for nearly every college girl on this campus, you should support this movement.
Ladies, if you’d like to relieve your financial burden and make others (cough cough MEN) realize that tampons are as vital to our lifestyle as food and shelter, you should support this movement.
You should support this movement because Wisconsin has the chance to be recognized as a state that is mindful of gender equality. And perhaps students may then be recognized not for their mockery of a Snapchat filter, but for their endorsement of an important women’s issue.