Let’s play a quick game of word association before we begin: I say ‘period’ and you reply with maybe ‘pain’ or ‘blood’ or ‘cramps’, the general feeling being largely negative (except from the grammar geeks/mildly naive amongst you who think ‘Oooh Punctuation!’ and get all excited and make out with your dictionaries). Let us continue.
There are over 3.5 billion women on the planet and most of us leak a rouge river once a month- unless you’re Leona Lewis who apparently also bleeds love- in order to keep the population going. Mother Nature pops up (in true toast style) rather inconveniently every now and then until we are lumbered with rather pregnancy, menopause or death, why then are our sanitary products taxed as luxury items?
LUXURY. This is the part that makes my blood (sorry) boil possibly even more than the actual tax part, because unless you have some kind of peculiar blood fetish (I’d say I’m not judging but we all know I am) like the woman that paints with hers, I think we can agree that they’re hardly an enjoyable experience. So why are mechanisms for menstrual control treated as optional? Our lack of alternatives means we shouldn’t be charged for them in the first place, let alone pay an additional price for simply having a functioning vagina.
In the UK, condoms for young people are free and rightly so. Anyone under the age of 25 can dash to their nearest patronisingly named ‘Family Planning Clinic’ and within 15 minutes, a quick counselling chat with a woman called Val and a glow in the dark sperm keyring later, come out with a C-Card that allows you to get free condoms. The
sperm key ring word here being ‘free’. You run out of condoms you can get another free batch, you run out of pads and you rather have to pay actual money for a new box or risk a ‘strawberry jam disaster’ (as my grandma elegantly put it in 2012. I have not consumed jam since).
Now don’t get me wrong, I normally wouldn’t begrudge 5% tax, especially when you work out that for 20 super plus Tampax tampons it costs £3 so the government are really only taking 15p of my (mum’s) hard earned money. But when you think that there are 24 hours in a day and you can’t wear a tampon for more than 8 (but usually 6 because don’t lie: we’re all majorly scared of that TSS thing) so means we go through at least 4 tampons a day. This means a box of 20 serves five days- a box every month if you’re one of those wonderwomen that flashfloods and is over in such a petite time frame I didn’t even have time to comprehend you starting. For the rest of us it’s a box and a half… if only you could buy half boxes. So we’re spending about £4.50 on tamps a month.
But what about pads? Because with pads you need your daytime support (£3.15 for 16) and your night saviours (£2.10 for 10) so already a month of menstruating is costing you £9.75- this doesn’t even include those special wipes or soap that women who really have lives together buy! Or mooncups! Or the price of all the pants you’ve had to replace over the years! £9.75 a month just to period- 48p of that as ‘luxury tax’.
And 48p may not sound like a lot but over a year it’s costing you about £117 (still only £5.85 in tax, which doesn’t seem as unreasonable as the principle of taxing itself), but what about 5 years? £585. That’s equivalent to a Taylor BT2 Mahogany Acoustic Guitar and 98 Ghostbusters DVDs. Or the £29.25 tax could buy you a Benefit Primping with the Stars kit including the £3 delivery charge.
But I know what you’re really waiting for/dreading: what is the price you pay for a whole decade worth of being a kick-ass, period dealing with woman-girl-thing? Well, with ten years worth of tax alone (£58.50) I could buy a 5 chicken wing Nando’s meal with 2 sides, an adult entry to Churchill’s War Rooms and a Big Issue from the seller outside. As for the total price, £1170, or in the style of the ladies from Sorry I’ve Got No Head, “a thousand pounds!”, you could purchase:
- A 7 night Alaska Cruise for two
- A second-hand Toyota Yaris plus insurance
- 26 pairs of converse
- 78 .com blog domains
By now I’d like to think you’re waving your Poundland purse (you could’ve bought a better one but you were too busy paying tampon tax) in the air, filled with old pharmacy receipts that you’re planning on ceremoniously burning tonight in honour of being ripped off. Do not fear. Amidst our anger (or ‘vaganger’ as I think we’ll now call it) there is a group trying to abolish this ‘luxury’ label and eradicate tax on sanitary products: #BloodyDisgrace.
Their website can be found here: www.bloodydisgrace.org/
Sign the petition HERE
All images are courtesy of this fabulous campaign of which I hope you can join me spread the word. Together we can free the tampon: financially and emotionally. And after 8 hours probably physically too. Sorry, TMI.