Maytinee Kramer/Staff Writer
Photos provided by: Maytinee Kramer
Everyone knows girls and women menstruate, so there is no reason to treat periods as dirty little secrets. However, society still places a taboo on this natural bodily function. This is a persisting stigma that still leaves women feeling uncomfortable discussing menstruation or even needing to go to the bathroom to “take care of business.” Luckily, a growing number of advocates, entrepreneurs and female lawmakers are challenging the taboo and putting all cards about the subject on the table. Periods should be put squarely on the public agenda and facilities should take menstruation into consideration. One way to do so is to make tampons and pads available in every public bathroom – for free.
Currently, feminine hygiene products are largely inaccessible in the Unites States, despite the access to such products being a basic human right. Still, many citizens do not actually have access to these basic hygiene products. Representative Grace Meng, Democrat of New York, stated that “menstruation is something women cannot control,” adding that she had heard reports about homeless women not having access to basic products. “Menstrual products should not be treated as luxury items.
According to The Washington Post, all but five states have imposed a tax – either a regular sales tax, or gross receipts tax or luxury tax – on female sanitary products. Sanitary products are essential and an expected part of life. Anywhere you go, properly caring for your health and hygiene is not optional. Making sure you’re covered can really add up financially and with the imposition of a “luxury tax,” the burden is only increased. However, most states don’t tax on essential items like groceries, including candy and sugary drinks.
No matter how much of a sweet tooth a person has, it’s hard to see how candy is more of an essential than feminine products.
Like people, all bathrooms should be equal. Unfortunately, they are not. All public bathrooms provide free toilet paper, soap and even seat covers, but not tampons and pads.
According to the nonprofit Free the Tampons organization, a national organization dedicated to the free access to feminine products in restrooms, 86 percent of women aged 18 to 54 report starting their period unexpectedly in public without the supplies they need. 78 percent of women who’ve unexpectedly started their period in public without supplies, improvised with toilet paper or another makeshift fix.
Free the Tampons is fighting to influence facilities such as schools and airports to stock feminine-care products at no charge. “I’m trying to change a social norm,” said founder Nancy Kramer. “It’s a matter of dignity. It’s humiliating to be in a situation and not have what you need.”
FIU, a university committed to keeping its students safe and healthy is one of the many schools that fail to provide women sanitary necessities free of charge. However, contraceptive methods for both men and women are available for free.
Andrea Isabel Piccardo, a sophomore majoring in International Relations and Asian Studies, thinks that both women and men need to change their views towards menstruation. “It’s one of the most natural things in the world, just like breastfeeding, and neither men nor women should be uncomfortable about feminine hygiene”
She also adds her thoughts about the struggle to afford everything for feminine health. “Women having access to these things helps and benefits society as a whole and I absolutely believe they should be available to women just as condoms are handed out for free at student health centers,” Piccardo told FIU student media.
FIU should consider providing free tampon dispensers in the university bathrooms because it will help eliminate the stigma of using tampons or pads and female Panthers will have a safe, private space where they can obtain and use necessary sanitary products without embarrassment. Discussing and exercising the right to accessible menstrual products will also put menstruation on the public agenda as an issue that is nothing to be ashamed or uncomfortable of.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.