“Tampons shouldn’t be taxed. Period.”
March 17, 2016
On Thursday, Feb. 26, a lawsuit was filed against New York City’s tax department. The plaintiffs? All women. The tax? Tampons, and other feminine hygiene products.
This tax isn’t a new concept. All but ten states have a tax on tampons, but no state legislatures were met with such a strong opposition as New York.
Margo Seibert, Jennifer Moore, Catherine O’Neil, Natalie Brasington, and Taja-Nia Henderson filed the complaint because they felt that the 4% tax increase was excessive, and impractical to women.
The published complaint made the argument that feminine hygiene products, specifically tampons “serve multiple medical purposes. They are not luxury items, but a necessity for women’s health,” according to the plaintiff.
The controversy was built around the fact that hygiene products that men and women use such as dandruff shampoo, chapstick, deodorant, and adult diapers were not included in the tax. Products that are only used by women, though, were included.
“Tampons and sanitary pads are a necessity for women, not a luxury. There is no way these products would be taxed if men had to use them,” said Zoe Salzman, a lawyer for the women, said in a statement.
Ilann M. Maazel, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, told the Washington Post that she hopes this lawsuit can set a precedent for the rest of the nation.
“It’s time for New York to stop taxing women for being women,” she said in the interview. “We hope this case will be the beginning of the end of the Tampon Tax in this country.”
Sophomore Molly Enloe, given good reason, is horrified by the taxation.
“This is complete bull,” she said. “That’s like putting a tax on water or any other utility. You can’t put a tax on a utility. It’s targeting one sex, too.”
Laura Coryton, wrote on change.com that the government degrades periods through this tax.
“By using sanitary products, our Government capitalises on misogynist discourse and period shame that has caused us to fear our own menstrual cycles,” she said.
Many women are angered not only by the tax in general, but how the decision was made.
In Feb. 2016, in Utah, legislatures met and voted to impose the tax. The panel? All men.
Though she is disgusted by how the decision was made, Enloe isn’t surprised.
“This nation has a history of passing legislation over women that men have decided upon,” she said.
Junior Lydia Booth is outraged by the representatives whom made this decision.
“Men just aren’t qualified to make that decision,” she said.
Booth feels that the tax is completely unfair, and that the purchase of tampons is necessary for women.
“Not buying tampons is socially unacceptable,” Booth said. “People would be horrified if they saw a woman without feminine hygiene products, so it’s completely unfair.”
Coryton agrees with Booth, and fears that the tax will have detrimental effects on how society views women and their cycles.
“Not using sanitary products can lead to health risks, jeopardise maintaining a normal, professional or personal life, and result in public ridicule,” she wrote as a comment to the George Osborne Campaign to “stop taxing periods”.
Freshman Mason Koski worries about low-income women and the impact the tariff would have on them
“It would be harder to afford for certain women. It’s not fair if you have to pay extra money for something that you have to have,” she said.
Women aren’t the only critics of the tax. Men are also seeing the bias and unfairness of the new legislation.
Though he lacks a uterus, sophomore Alessio Griffin is strongly against the tax.
“I think that it’s outrageous and completely sexist,” Griffin said.
Griffin feels that the tax can be seen as punishment.
“Why are women being penalized for a natural occurrence?” he asked.
Sophomore Jake Broom shares similar sentiments with Griffin, and feels the panel who voted for the tax can’t relate to the necessity of the products.
“The panel doesn’t care about the tax because they’re not affected by it,” Broom said. They’re all male so they don’t even have to worry about buying tampons.”
Junior Devon Allowitz feels that women’s outrage over this is justified and necessary.
“Men would be outraged if women put taxes on things like men’s shaving cream or men’s deodorant,” Allowitz said. “It should work both ways and I think women should have a bigger role in government, after all they make up half the population.”
Enloe feels that the solution lies in government representation.
“Until participation in the government among the sexes is equal, the policies passed will not be fair nor representative of the female population,” she said.
*Photos are intended for noncommercial reuse