We need to talk about periods. Every month women are planning on how they can either A) hide their period B) hide themselves because they’re on their period. It’s time to out the taboo and put periods in the spotlight.
The fear of periods and what they represent seems to be a widespread problem among society. As a girl, when you first get your period, most likely at secondary school, it becomes the first day of many where you’ll want to hide that fact that your body is changing. For boys, it’s a completely different experience. Their first chin hair is celebrated, people pat them on the back and congratulate them. But, when a girl gets her period, everything she does is passed off as irrational, PMS or unreasonable all the way up to menopause.
This childish attitude towards periods is unfortunately manifested worldwide and largely seen as just a “woman’s” problem, something that we solely need to take care of and not speak about like a dirty little secret. In some places in the world, women are still forced to spend the majority of their menses in tents because they’re seen as so impure they need to be removed from society. In the West we may not be confined to huts physically, but mentally it’s a different story. We’re charged through the roof for what can only be described as smaller adult nappies with patronising flowery patterns on them.
Tampons, sanitary towels, moon cups or whatever blood catching device of choice you use are not considered to be essential in the UK and therefore, if you’re a woman, you better be prepared to pay tax for… well, being a woman. 5% to be exact. Many argue that if men were the ones shedding their womb lining every month, there’d be no tax and possible a couple of extra holiday days thrown in for good measure! Having the displeasure of bleeding once a month is a bad enough experience without knowing that it’s costing you extra money because the government sees sanitary products as ‘luxury, non-essential items’. Even the thought that you could go along with your day, whilst on a period, without the right sanitary products is offensive – menstrual hygiene is a right, not a luxury and the thought that it is counted as such just shows how archaic our approach to periods really is.
A petition on Change.org has already gathered over 200,000 supporters and is spreading the message worldwide. To join the campaign against the taxation of sanitary products, you can follow @BloodyDisgrace on Twitter.
For some women, buying sanitary products isn’t a problem, yes the tax is inconvenient (and insulting) but mostly bearable. But, for homeless women, the expense of buying such products is sometimes the choice between eating that day and not eating and eating almost always wins out. Campaigns such as The Homeless Period on Twitter are lobbying to change this horrendous fact. Can you imagine, having to go into a public toilet and fashion your own sanitary product of choice because your shelter can’t, or won’t, provide you with a pad? But, if you wanted to have sex, rest assured a condom would be available!
Ideally, what I would love to see is a world where women aren’t fobbed off because it’s their time of the month. No more sly comments about “being on the rag”, “code reds” or any other derogatory way of referring to menses. I want to see women being more open and unapologetic about being on their period, it’s nothing to be ashamed of! If it wasn’t for periods, none of us would be here.
Mostly, I want men to stop acting like periods offend them so much. Man the hell up and accept this is part of what is means to be a woman. We don’t shrink away in horror (mostly) because of your sometimes sweaty exteriors or excessive body hair, we go with the flow – no pun intended.
End the tampon tax, end the stigma and get the hell over it. Whether you like it or not periods are here to stay so stop taxing us and making it harder than it needs to be!
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.
Images credit: The Homeless Period @HomelessPeriod