Tampons Are A Luxury But Viagra Is Not?

"Free bleeders” like Kirin Gandhi, running a marathon.

“Free bleeders” like Kirin Gandhi, running a marathon.

“Free bleeders” like Kirin Gandhi don’t use tampons. Or sanitary napkins.

Some of the time.

Just to show that they are luxury items.

Because it’s just fine to bleed all over yourself and your clothes. And the furniture.

And then spend hours washing out the blood. Or buying new clothes. And new furniture. 

Free bleeders want to make a point. Several actually. One is a protest against the “Tampon tax.”

Currently, tampons and sanitary napkins are taxed as a luxury. Because women apparently don’t really need them.

But what if men menstruated?

What’s considered a luxury depends on your point of view. If you are a man — and 80% of Congress is male — you might not realize that feminine hygiene is a necessity.

The fact that Congress is 80% male probably explains why Viagra is not taxed as a luxury.

Ironically, the free bleeding movement was sparked by some guys who concocted the notion, seeking to expose how ridiculous feminists can be.

But when feminine hygiene is seen as a luxury, free bleeding is actually a great way to make the point that it’s not.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on April 6, 2016, in feminism, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. I didn’t know there is is luxury tax on it…. that is really silly. Who makes those rules…. Oh… of course a man…. hehe

  2. Yes, it’s such a luxurious experience, using a tampon…..

  3. And one suspects that of that 80% of Congress that is male, most are likely useless without a pharmaceutical boost.

  4. “The fact that Congress is 80% male probably explains why Viagra is not taxed as a luxury.”

    This is pure BS!

    Viagra and other ED meds are considered medically prescribed drugs to treat a medical condition – ED. As such, like all prescription meds, they are not taxed.

    If you want to make tampons a medial dug and exempt then from being taxed, then have at it.

    But, this entire argument you have posed is not thing but a straw man, at best.

    • Maybe the reason why you think that tampons/feminine hygiene are a luxury, and not a necessity, is because you are a man.

      And considering that feminine hygiene is actually a necessity and not a luxury, How else would you explain why it’s taxed is a luxury — other than that Congresses mostly male?

      It’s not even to say that men are bad, But that they are seeing the world from their own perspective.

      It’s actually more necessary to have feminine hygiene than for men to get an erection once they are past an age when men typically no longer can get them.

    • Huggy Bear one could argue that normal aging is not a medical condition.

  5. Btw, birth contol meds are not taxed either.

  6. Yeah.. Long back I had read her article. I had liked her confidence

  7. The threat of free bleeding is what I agree with, not exactly the act of it all. Personally, I find it unhygienic, uncomfortable looking, and a disrespect to other’s space if one were to actually free bleed in a public area. Although, it does grab attention, which is what we need to begin a fight against the luxury tax. But after all, people like Kirin Gandhi are bound take it to the extreme, and that is what a lot of people want to avoid. If enough people join in this movement, it might just gross people out enough that congress end up removing this tax (in a perfect world).

  8. I find this blog post really interesting because tampons or pads are something essentially everyone woman uses, and yet, none of us know about it. You’re right when you say that tampons are not a luxury and it is ridiculous that any man could perceive that it is. It makes me wonder if Congress intentionally screws women over sometimes. I admire the women who free bleed and perhaps if I run a half marathon or marathon and I have my period I will free bleed as well. But, I think I would prefer to keep my clothes on the cleaner side and get my hands dirty in politics. I suppose contacting your representative would be the best step to take, but I wonder, what are your ideas to fight the tampon tax?

  9. Its ridiculous to me that products many women use during the time of their period such as pads and tampons are taxed but medications like Viagra aren’t. This just goes to show the inequality we still have in society. Why is it that a medication that helps with sexual arousal isn’t taxed but basic hygienic products women need is? Its not only tampons and pads that taxed but other feminine products like razors. Women’s razors are almost twice the price of men’s razors and that includes shaving cream as well. Its just mind boggling.

  10. Because men’s personal pleasure is certainly a necessity rather than a luxury, right?

    I remember in my senior year of high school doing a project on the appropriately nicknamed “women’s tax”, and it turns out a lot of “feminine” hygiene products have a higher cost than their supposedly “masculine” counterparts. I’m not just talking about tampons and sanitary napkins here, but also products such as razors and deodarant marketed toward women, despite the fact that most people use them regardless of sex. When you add up yearly costs, women end up having to pay significantly more for the same products as men, and with the (although decreasing) gender wage gap, it just ends up being downright inconvenient. According to some articles I’ve read in the past, periods are especially harrowing for homeless women and those below the poverty line who have difficulty taking care of themselves during menstruation, and this tax only makes it that much more of a struggle.

    Also, what of young transgender males who continue to menstruate? This tax would inconvenience them as well, given that the extra cost for a product which is still a necessity brands them as women due to their genitalia, ignoring their identified gender — another reason for this silly tax to be abolished.

  11. I am disappointed with the response of protesting to remove the tax because it is considered a luxury item. I think women like Kirin should push all women to raise there voices and start a real revolution for women health rights.

    Here’s a idea how about we forget about taking off the luxury tax, and how about we make all tampons/pads free for all women citizens here in the united states. Its not just the tax to me that is crazy, to me the whole point of making a certain group(women) pay for something that they need is crazy. When even though I am a male, I think of my mother, sister, aunts, and daughters it should be free if anything really should be free it should be tampons, fuck im pretty sure we can afford to do this .

    I have a hair store here in los angeles and many insurance companies cover hair extentions as long as there doctor writes them a prescription usually they are reimbursed anywhere from 100% to 60%. Maybe all women should go to there doctor and as for a precription for being a women. Seems like you have to do something out of ordinary to get your voice heard and actually get change in our society.

  12. I think the fact that Viagra is not taxed and tampons are taxed is very unfair. Menstruating is clearly something that women go through that they cannot help. The other fact that Congress is 80% male is definitely a sign and clear indicating from where these laws are coming from. I do believe though, the idea of “Free bleeding” is to extreme. As described in the article you are bleeding everywhere and that is very extreme. I feel there’s probably more of a less extreme way of protesting. Protesting in that manner I think makes the argument you are making seem unreasonable, especially to men. Ultimately though if men do not have pay tax on Viagra, I believe men or female should see that is extremely unfair. Not having taxes on item show that its something people need. Tampons is clearly an item women need, therefore we should have to pay taxes.

  13. To even use the words “tampon” and “luxury” in the same sentence is completely ridiculous! Last time I checked, there was nothing luxurious about bleeding and cramping for a week straight. The fact that Viagra is not taxed as a luxury completely baffles me. Women don’t have a choice when it comes to menstruating. We can’t just say, “You know what? I don’t feel like dealing with this today.” Believe me, if there was a choice, I’d choose not to have to deal with it. And although men don’t have a choice whether or not they suffer from erectile dysfunction, they still have the luxury of choosing if they want to do something about it or not. Jonathan F. makes a great point in his previous comment, “Here’s a idea how about we forget about taking off the luxury tax, and how about we make all tampons/pads free for all women citizens here in the united states.” Tampons and pads are a necessity for women. If we can give out condoms to men for free, shouldn’t we also be able to give out tampons and pads to women for free as well? While I don’t see that happening anytime soon, I would hope that the luxury tax would be reconsidered.

  14. I think that having a tax on feminine products is definitely unfair. I also believe that one of the reason’s why is because of how male dominant congress is, with that being said I also believe those taxes are passed through congress because of how uneducated a lot of men are on women’s health. My sister had a boss who legit thought that women controlled when they had their periods and got mad when my sister called into work because she had really bad cramps from her period, he did end up letting her take the day off. But the next time she saw him at work, he ended up apologizing to her about it, after another of his employees told him how periods work. He told her he truly didn’t know how periods work and thought women just used it as an excuse to be lazy. This may not apply to all men but the fact that someone even thought like this, let alone a man in power (Manager of mostly female Employees) is really disheartening. I think with proper education on women’s health a lot of things would be different.

  15. As a woman, I find it ridiculous that sanitary products are taxed as luxury items. I first heard of this tax from the comedian Daniel Sloss, who brings up in his bit a few interesting points. Even in countries where healthcare is free, people pay for tampons and they are taxed as luxury items. Despite tampons and sanitary napkins being what I consider a medical necessity for one’s feminine hygiene they are not only not provided for free, but are not provided free of a luxury tax. Condoms are free, even though there’s a smaller chance they get put to use compared to the near definite chance tampons get put to use. Because pregnancy becomes a state’s issue if the parents of a child are unable or unfit to keep the child much more is done to prevent pregnancy. This is where I think free bleeding becomes an amazing tool, it turn the very personal experience of menstruating into someone else’s issue if it is done in a public place. Men get E.D. pills for free (in countries with free healthcare). This probably has a lot to do with the fact that the population experiencing E.D. is well represented in government, older males, meaning more is done to protect their rights. Finally Daniel says: “If you’re that confident that they’re a luxury item, buy them for your girlfriends birthday. See how f****** thrilled she is. [pretending to be the girlfriend] What did you get me? [being the boyfriend] It’s a luxury item! [being girlfriend] Oooooooohhh [opens imaginary box] Oh I’m going to cut your throat.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmgIN5Bo17w)

    • Yeah, historically help for erectile dysfunction has been made much more available than anything that aids women, Whether it be tampons or vibrators or anything else. And I’m sure that has a lot to do with the gendered make up of congresses and parliaments. And Male dominant cultures, generally.

  16. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that tampons have a luxury product tax. I hope that very, very soon this will be changed. I first learned about the tax when I read about Kiran Gandhi running the marathon on a running website I frequent. I think what she did was amazing and really did draw (needed) attention to the subject. I will be honest, as a male, it is not something I had ever thought about before and I likely would never have. However because of people like Kiran Gandhi spreading attention to the subject, it is now something that I am well aware of and hope to see changed. I think that, like you stated, the fact that congress is 80% male is directly responsible for this tax. The United States without a doubt needs more female representation to make sure things like this not only don’t continue to happen, but do not go unnoticed.

  17. I skimmed the comments and found many people calling the Free Bleeders “courageous”, which is an uncountable fact. It’s interesting that we call them courageous just because they’re allowing a natural process to happen — when I step back and analyze why that is, it is because they know that menstruation is incredibly complex, messy, and prohibiting without the support of feminine products. If HALF of the world’s population is affected by this natural, inevitable process that is deemed a “courageous” feat if not prevented by feminine hygiene, it is beyond me how tampons are not considered a necessity.

  18. I never thought about how female hygiene products were taxed. I would pick them up at the store and just like everything else, it had a sales tax. I never stopped to consider that this was discriminatory. I was not aware that Viagra was not taxed.
    It was interesting because I have had other people buy me products when I was busy (my parents, my boyfriend, etc.) so I never thought about how this tax really only affects those with menstruation.
    It is irritating how people will argue that hygienic products are a luxury and not necessary. It is true that if we bleed everywhere, we will not die. However, that is not to say that NOT bleeding is a luxury. People will say that hygienic products are not necessary and yet offer no solution for the bleeding! Perhaps some people are sadly misinformed about the female anatomy and where the bleeding is coming from…
    The interesting point that is brought up is about the male percentage in authority. It does not make sense for someone who has no interest for the welfare of women to be in charge of decisions involving women. There definitely needs to be some sort of change brought about. People need to be educated and perhaps that will open up the door for new possibilities.

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