You’re standing in the middle of the tampon or pad aisle, perusing your options, and you eventually pick one out and hide it to the best of your ability. This is something that likely anyone who has experienced periods first-hand knows. However, this isn’t the way it should be.
Those of us who have periods, regardless of how we identify, shouldn’t be ashamed. It’s natural, even though it has been considered “disgusting” and “shameful” for so long that we even tend to hide them from one another. I have lived with women who gave no signs of being on their period — from a lack of tampon wrappers to no heating pad consistently plugged into the wall.
But there’s no reason to hide it. I’m not saying we need to start explaining the details over mashed potatoes at dinner, or share every detail with someone other than our mothers, but stop hiding the pad wrapper and be honest when someone asks why you’re not feeling well. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
And for that matter, it’s nothing we should have to pay for. I am already being punished by my body with horrible cramps for not being pregnant, so I shouldn’t be punished by society as well. According to an article from Jezebel, the average woman is going to spend $61.11 on tampons per year, and $59.43 on pads. That’s not to mention the pain killers for those monster cramps, which set it at just under $21 dollars a year. But in my case and the case of many other people I know, that is an underestimation.
These are just the menstruation-related costs. On average, owning a vagina costs more than $2,000, according to Jezebel’s estimations. I didn’t ask to have a period, so why do I have to pay for it? So, yes, this is an argument for these amenities to be provided for free. In my workplace, there is a community locker labeled “monthly supplies,” but that’s not enough. It’s great that we’re coming together to help one another, but since I began my period years ago, I have spent more money than I would like on making sure I don’t bleed everywhere.
This country already doesn't do much to help people stay alive — if you're sick, it's your responsibility. It’s like blaming a sick person for being sick, and that's what being forced to pay for monthly supplies feels like. I'm being blamed for having my period, for not getting pregnant, and it’s ridiculous.
With the extra cost of owning a vagina and the wage gap, which is larger for minority women and trans women, women are being held down by society. We're already making less money, and then it costs more to take care of our bodies. We also have specialized doctors that we have to go to. Biological women are the ones with the burden of being pregnant. We are put under the burden of being responsible for the birth control.
And yet, with all of this, people still believe that women aren't capable of running a country or doing the things that men are able to do on a daily basis. People believe that we should be able to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. But the society that we live in is working against us from the moment we are born to the moment we die.
You could find free condoms all over the place, yet women have to pay for other forms of birth control. Most men wouldn't even consider taking the male form of birth control that has now been invented. But why? It's only fair.
The fact that women are forced to pay for supplies to help deal with something we can’t control is a symptom of a larger problem. Whenever a woman gets help, men cry “misandry!” and “No fair!” all while ignoring the fact that they get help constantly, just by being a male.
I’d be willing to bet you if the men running this country experienced what women go through every month, tampons, pads and other supplies would be free and widely available. But while they’re not, make sure to donate these items to people who can’t afford them. Make sure you forget about the stigmas and stay proud of your body.
Bailey Breece is junior studying English and German. Email her at email@example.com