Going back a bit into the course, I want to write this blog post on the inequality of women. Quite a generic topic, I know, but something that really stuck out to me when we were reading the article about how women deserve equal pay, and in case you do not remember the article here is a link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/opinion/sunday/payback-time-for-women.html?_r=0 , it made me think about the modern day issue, The Tampon Tax. Focusing on one of the key points in the article of how women are treated unfairly to their male counterparts, another injustice I view is in this simple act of taxing female hygiene products that just seems so unnecessary to tax.
To give a simple background of how the tax works, in a study done by Fusion in June 2015 stated that 45 US states, like New York, tax female sanitary products as “luxury goods”. However, the other aspect of this is that New York does not tax for what we perceive as luxury items, such as the wine for wine tasting or circus tickets. Hygiene products that women have to buy every month are extremely expensive, and the a bizarre item that does not get taxed which according to the Huffington Post of January 29th, 2016, condoms targeted towards men do not fall under this tax, as they are considered essential health products. Now, I do not know if this is outright sexism, but how are feminine products not considered an essential health product? This is the backward thinking that does not progress the core equality that we are striving for. Even if there were the perfect world of how women and men are being paid the same amount, women would still have less income because they are forced to pay a tax that men are exempt from? Solely because the government considers female basic healthcare a luxury and simply tax those products.
However this problem has greater impacts. Impoverished women lose out on many opportunities. In Cosmo magazine states on October 15th, 2015, “low-income women who rely on food stamps can’t use their federal assistance on tampons”, which means that the tax disproportionately hurts those below the poverty line. If we are denying women of equal income and essential goods that are needed then we are also denying them the opportunities to progress in society. According to Al Jazeera America on January 13th, 2016, “millions of lower-income or homeless women are forced to skip school, jobs, and interviews to avoid the cost of sanitary products that they can’t afford.” It’s too difficult not only for these women to rise out of poverty, but even to stay healthy, all because we price them out of the products they need. The impacts that a simple tax can have are quite astounding to think about.
We need to work to account for the tampon tax. In the short term, women can try reusable alternatives to tampons, like menstrual cups or period panties. They are still taxed, but because they can be cleaned and reused, you only have to pay the tax once. But women should not just have to dodge the tax; we should work to get rid of it entirely. Both men and women can sign my friend’s petition on change.org. It asks companies like Tampax and Kotex to adjust their product prices to include the cost of the tax. It’s a first step toward congressional action. Maybe petitions seem useless, so I take your cynicism, and raise you Canada! According to ThinkProgress on May 29, 2015, a petition signed by nearly 75,000 Canadian citizens successfully prompted the Canadian government to remove the 5% tax on all sanitary products. Look, if men had periods, tampons wouldn’t just be untaxed, and they’d be free. Sexism still exists in our government, and it’s time that we plug it up. So overall, understanding that income inequality and just inequality in the little things has a bigger impact in the long run.
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