Periods can be more than just a nuisance for those who cannot afford feminine hygiene products such as pads or tampons.
Products deemed as medical necessities do not receive taxation, so #tampontax activists such as Steinhardt senior Arielle Solomon believe that taxing feminine hygiene products such as pads and tampons stigmatizes them as luxury items.
“It is pretty crazy that it has taken this long to get this much attention,” Solomon said. “The world has a cause to follow things like the tampon tax, because we start realizing certain things might have stigmas for a good reason and others for no reasons, and menstruation is one of those things.”
Solomon is a board member of Women’s Herstory Month at NYU, and said she admires the school’s administration for allowing students to hold signs with blown up pictures of tampons and conducting this dialogue. At the beginning of March, Columbia University decided to start providing free tampons and pads to its students.
Columbia senior Benjamin Makansi helped lead this cause when he learned more about the tampon tax during his winter break. He conducted further research and talked with female students regarding their opinions on this tax. Makansi said that affordability and situations of urgent needs are the two pressing issues at this point, and that they’ll be looking at usage data from Columbia Health to determine how to proceed at NYU.
“If, for instance, we find that the vast majority of usage and feedback is due to situations of urgent need, then maybe we should look at providing tampons and pads at other locations on campus so they’re even more immediately accessible,” Makansi said. “We don’t know yet. But we and Columbia Health will continue to be in conversation about this.”
He said the university provides free tampons at one centralized location after female students expressed the inconvenience of suddenly needing a tampon or pad while far away from their dorms.
CAS junior Faiza Haq is optimistic for NYU to make a change — especially after a student group reached out to Women’s Herstory Month at New York University to help with a tampon and pad drive. However, nothing has been officially confirmed.
“I’ve never seen dispensers in GCASL (have seen them in Kimmel and Silver though),” Haq said. “And I’ve also been told the tampons in Kimmel are more expensive than the ones in Silver.”
She said she thinks this tax demonstrates how male-dominated policy making is and that this issue’s increased attention comes from having more people of power and influence support #tampontax.
Solomon thinks that free tampons and pads will make periods seem less taboo, so alleviating this tax will benefit women more than just financially.
“Something that’s a mark of being a perfectly healthy person is something that is more stigmatized than being sick,” Solomon said. “It’s important to see that this is nothing to be embarrassed about and women should stop apologizing about it and start being open about it.”
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