Periods and everything to do with them have long been stigmatized – just ask this cashier who refused to sell tampons because he thought they were disgusting. At the same time, there’s a movement to end the stigma around menstruation, with one woman running a whole marathon without a tampon. This progress is now extending to financial policy — New York is set to exempt tampons and other feminine hygiene products (talk about a euphemism!) from the state’s sales tax.
According to NPR, a lot of other products sold at pharmacies are exempt from a sales tax, including contraception. The bill, which has passed through the state legislature, and which Governor Andrew Cuomo purportedly supports, would reclassify pads and tampons to also be exempt. New York would follow New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland and Minnesota in doing this.
New York assembly member Linda Rosenthal introduced this bill in the state legislature. She said that while debating it, the stigma was still clear, especially among older members, who “were shifting in their chairs,” throughout the discussion. She says, “Some couldn’t look at me because I was saying these words.”
The NPR report also highlights a New York City bill to provide sanitary products for free in public schools, homeless shelters, and prisons. A local principal, whose high school already has a free tampon machines, talks about how some girls stay home from school because they can’t afford these products. This bill, as well as the “tampon tax” bill goes to show how important these products are in helping women of all economic situations manage their periods with dignity.