The tampon tax proves that sexism still exists

Jillian LeBlanc, Opinion Editor

Society is flawed – anyone on social media can attest to that – but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. We have become accustom to inequality, to racism, and even sexism. This is 2016 and women are still paying a tax on tampons in 40 states in America, soon to be 39 states.

Five states do not have a state sales tax, while another five listed feminine hygiene products as an exemption. Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are the only states that seem to enforce women’s rights. Tampons and sanitary products are a necessity in a woman’s life, but they’re also giant moneymakers for 78 percent of the U.S.

Last week the New York State Senate passed legislation to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. Wisconsin, Chicago, Utah, Ohio, California, Michigan and Connecticut are making moves to address this topic, but this idea has already been shot down in Ohio.

Women have been unlawfully taxed for decades, providing states with extra money; a lump sum created and paid for by women.

Women cannot function without these products, which makes the added charge especially unfair. If items such as ChapStick, sunscreen, shampoo, Rogaine, and in some states Viagra, are exempt from extra charges, it shouldn’t be a question about whether or not tampons qualify.

Women don’t want to spend their money on these products, but they don’t have a choice. Tampons are not luxury items like makeup, nail polish, candy or toilet paper, and shouldn’t be treated as such. Although a similar argument can be made for toilet paper, that tax at least applies to the entire population instead of half.

“There’s nothing luxurious about tampons,” said Tish Jennings in an interview with the New York Daily News, “They’re necessary to a woman’s personal health. It’s sickening how much they’re (the government) making off them.”

Last month, five Manhattan women filed a lawsuit against the New York State department of taxation regarding the tax on tampons. The women claimed that the four percent sales tax is discriminatory, taking free money from women.

“The average woman spends at least $70 per year on tampons and pads, according to court papers, earning the state a total of $14 million in taxes each year,” reported Barbara Ross and Stephen Rex Brown, writers from New York Daily News.

This does not include the additional amount of money women spend on Midol, chocolate, birth control, and new underwear, also known as a woman’s “period survival kit.” This is hundreds of dollars women pay to simply live a comfortable life, hundreds of dollars that men don’t have to pay, increasing the wage gap even more.

A woman’s “monthly gift” is taxing enough on the female body, but to receive an additional tax on necessary supplies is unjust.

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