Women have bigger problems than a “period tax”


Emma Kolesnik

Period tax. My first response was something along the lines of “Are you kidding me?” However, as soon as I started doing my research, I realized what a non-issue it was. Instead of spending our energy fighting for this “cause,” we should look at bigger issues and more prevalent problems. People often don’t realize the impact of their work in their own communities.

First off, there is no “period tax” per se. Instead, in most states there is a tax on hygiene products. As the article in The Daily Beast explains, there is also a tax on toilet paper and other necessary items. Tax codes are somewhat strange and hard to understand, but there are many items that are taxed that would be considered “necessary.”

Women spend somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 dollars in their lifetime on feminine hygiene products. Ultimately, this is not a huge amount of money. Even if the tax was taken away, women would still have to spend a similar amount on their tampons.

I agree that it is problematic that women are taxed on an item that is necessary, however there are much bigger problems that should be drawing our attention. By focusing on an issue like this, it gives people another reason to discredit the feminist movement. There is nothing politicians and lawmakers can really do to get rid of the tax, and ultimately it is for the greater good.

The hygiene tax creates large amounts of revenue for states, while not having a large effect on consumers. Ultimately, almost everything we buy is taxed in some regard, and by targeting specific items to be untaxed, we cause unnecessary complications. Clothing is necessary, yet it is taxed.

Men and women are not the same, and are going to have different costs for things. Men are estimated to spend more money on food as they eat more calories in a day. Women, however, are charged significantly more for clothing and haircuts. It doesn’t quite balance out, but we all make choices on how much to spend. There are different brands of tampons that cost different amounts, yet many women will buy the more expensive ones in “cute” packaging.

Ultimately, instead of complaining about a trivial tax that affects everyone, not just women, we should be fighting bigger battles. For example, why aren’t many young feminists “furious” about the underrepresentation of women in high-power jobs? Are women so trivial that we can only be angry over inconsequential issues?

There are more men named John running big companies in America than there are women running them. Yet, people still don’t see any problem. Excuses are made that women don’t like high powered jobs. Women don’t like to work as hard as men do. In my eyes, this would have more to do with expectations women face from a young age than an innate dislike for power and hard work.

Women are underrepresented in politics, yet feminists still won’t vote for the woman candidate that is qualified. This is true in a number of elections, and it leads to fewer women running. Women are less likely to run because they receive so little support.

It is incomprehensible to me that self proclaimed feminists can be so naive. Instead of complaining about silly non issues maybe we could try fighting against sexism around the world.

The fight against sexism isn’t even close to over. There are dozens of areas where we can see inequality and discrimination. Things have gotten a lot better in the past hundred years, but we’re not there yet.

We won’t get equality by complaining about things like the “period tax.” This is just another issue that feminists latch onto to instead of focusing on real problems in our society. If you consider yourself a feminist, maybe next time an issue like this comes up you should think twice about what really matters.


Illustration Credit: Jenny Chang / The Foothill Dragon Press


What do you think?