Taxes. Okay, sure, whatever. Taxes are beneficial for a multitude of reasons, but it’s obviously different for those who can barely afford a product without tax included. We run across this problem in a brand new light when the product someone can’t afford is a necessity…like feminine hygiene products. For women who are making just enough to obtain food (or even women who are fully capable), this sucks. But hey, welcome to the world we live in. A lot of it sucks. But this, oh, this…
We grrls can all vouch for the supreme sucking of this; a lot of us have probably slipped a quarter into the dispenser (against our very will to live), grabbed the thing with such haste that maybe time itself didn’t catch it happening, and erased the whole ordeal from our memories. Or maybe we haven’t thought twice at the register while ringing up something we all have to have. What you should be thinking: Why should we pay extra for necessities like the tampon?
New Year’s Day of 2015, menstrual equity activist (because, duh, that’s a thing) Jennifer Weiss-Wolf found out through Facebook that a good friend was collecting feminine hygiene products for a local New Jersey food pantry. “A lifetime of reproductive-rights and women’s-health advocacy, and I swear, I’d never given a second thought to periods as part of policy activism,” she stated. She’s 48, and this was new. After careful research, not unlike what a lot of us may have done, Weiss-Wolf discovered that in the United States, menstrual products are taxed as luxury goods, which comes as a drawback for low-income women that have a monthly period. Which is, you know, essentially all of them. Journalists and activists before her were usually unsuccessful, despite the fact that there are still homeless women bleeding on the streets, or having issues with such care in prison. The fact is, the nation is taxing us for something we simply cannot control.
So Weiss-Wolf, ready to be the one that makes more progress than a minor pick-up, created a petition to put tampons on magazine covers, collaborating with international activists and crazy-big names like Gloria Steinem and Hillary Clinton. Her petition even made it to the White House. When she couldn’t get coverage from Cosmopolitan, she found New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, who published three of her essays in 2015. Largely thanks to her causal contribution, eight states have lifted the tax or otherwise began the process of writing a tampon-tax bill, as of 2017.
In her interview with Lenny Letter, Weiss-Wolf explained that the free-bleeding, London marathon-runner Kiran Gandhi set the whole social media scene ablaze after writing a blog about her feat. Of course, Donald Trump’s “bleeding from her wherever” comment (referring to Megyn Kelly) were also a catalyst. These are just a couple of the forces that inspired Weiss-Wolf and other large names to speak out.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Jennifer Weiss-Wolf coined her own title, creating the phrase “menstrual equity.” If you’re going to be a driving force in society, you gotta get that under control for a bit. Not only is it difficult to concentrate while bleeding down your legs, but it’s also cripplingly irritating to walk down the sidewalk or pump gas if you’re blatantly letting nature take its course. This is Weiss-Wolf’s goal: let these women who want to be driving forces in society do so without discomfort and “humiliation.”
She says that others looking up to her made her a “whole woman.” She mentions, “Again, it’s not one person making change. They just saw me do all this shit and thought, Oh, I can do that too.”
We can all do that, too. We can all be whole women, or rather whole-r women. Just inspire, be the millennial Weiss-Wolf this world needs. You don’t have to wait until you’re 48. You’re finding out now. Do something about it.