In the Guardian, Jessica Valenti made “The Case For Free Tampons.” Why did she do this? Because, frankly, they cost too damn much. And it’s not like women can just stop needing them. While the men may giggle nervously at the broaching of the topic, women understand.
Menstruation is a fact of life for most women. Men may find it disgusting but we have to deal with it a few days every month for about 30 years. Yet, even in the 21st century, the topic is taboo. Though women’s sanitary products are freely advertised on TV, the subject still has the ability to embarrass both men and women. But, whether you like it or not, this is a topic of vital importance to women, especially women living in Third World countries or in poverty in America.
Tampons and pads are vital to a woman’s health and well-being. We learn as pre-teens that we will need them to function in society. But, as Valenti writes:
“… for young women worldwide, getting your period means new expenses, days away from school and risking regular infections. All because too many governments don’t recognize feminine hygiene as a health issue.”
As the resulting Twitter storm showed, some people are still stuck at the mental age of twelve. These are the sort of people who went crazy after Valenti Tweeted, “Anyone know a country where tampons are free or somehow subsidized?” The responses were amazing in their misogynistic tone.
Over on Buzzfeed, Robin Wilder gathered some of the worst, from which I culled these horrible comments:
@SpergonWynn @JessicaValenti c*nt
@TheRealBepo @Jessica Valenti Yeah, North Korea, You should move there.
@MrSugarButt @JessicaValenti here’s a thought: get married. Then your husband can pay for it. As long as your putting out.
That last one — “get married” — prompted an interesting point from Pandagon‘s Amanda Marcotte. She states that, in suggesting marriage as a solution to the problem, “MrSugarButt” (I can’t even) proposes child marriage. Today, girls start menstruating at a younger age that they used to. Sometimes as young as eight or nine. Is marriage a solution for them? Just goes to show how some people don’t engage their brain before typing.
Another point, made inadvertently by many commenters and by the right-wing rag, Twitchy, is that sanitary items are a luxury. Their headline — “Jessica Valenti is looking for a place to score free tampons” — suggests that these items are a luxury to be “scored.” Ask any woman who has been caught off-guard at school or work how much of a luxury it is.
In countries where sanitary products are hard to find or unavailable, girls miss school and women miss work. They have to stay at home bleeding into dirty rags and, quite often, getting an infection from it. Though there is some relief from charities such as Pads4Girls and She, the problem is still widespread.
In America, some poor women sell their food stamps in order to buy tampons or pads. And women in prison often can’t get them at all. Somehow, women’s needs just never get mentioned when we talk about poverty or prison. I wonder why that is? Oh, right… because it makes most men uncomfortable.
Valenti notes that the issue is…
“… less an issue of costliness than it is of principle: menstrual care is health care, and should be treated as such. But much in the same way insurance coverage or subsidies for birth control are mocked or met with outrage, the idea of women even getting small tax breaks for menstrual products provokes incredulousness because some people lack an incredible amount of empathy … and because it has something to do with vaginas. Affordable access to sanitary products is rarely talked about outside of NGOs – and when it is, it’s with shame or derision.”
Still. Come on, grow up.
h/t Raw Story