For most of history, periods have been caught in a strange limbo between the universal and the personal. Every woman has one, yet few people talked about it.
That all changed last year. Dubbed “The Year of the Period” by NPR, 2015 saw the subway systems in New York plastered with advertisements for “underwear for women with periods.” #PeriodsAreNotAnInsult trended on Twitter. Kiran Gahndi ran the London Marathon without feminine hygiene products.
Periods had officially gone public.
And this year, they’re going political. Gotham Gazette reported that members of the New York City Council, led by Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, are drafting a package of legislation designed to ease access to feminine hygiene products. Three bills to be introduced at the city level within the next several weeks will make items like tampons and sanitary pads readily available in public schools, shelters, and correctional facilities; a resolution will call upon the state to eliminate tax on these products.
The “tampon tax” has long been a monetary thorn in women’s sides, largely due to the fact that it derives from the classification of feminine hygiene products as “non-essential” items. What constitutes a necessity, though, remains very much open to interpretation: In Vermont, garter belts fly through registers tax-free; in Indiana, it’s Pixie Stix and barbeque sunflower seeds.