Paying For a Luxury

Debate student’s opinion essay from Ms. Habig’s Debate class.


Ana Mejia, Student

Permanence is difficult to find in the world of today. Nothing feels permanent. It is very difficult to find something that has stayed consistent over the years. Trends are changing, technology continues to evolve, even how us humans interact has changed drastically in the past couple of years.  One thing that has remained constant however, is that women are still being oppressed. Granted, we can vote, we can go to school and get a good education, and it is now frowned upon to hit women. While all these things are improvements, we still have a long way to go. The pay gap still exists, women still don’t have bodily autonomy, we are still looked down on by men and we get to hear them say the most derogative, vile things to us but hey! It is better than nothing. I’m not here to thoroughly talk about each one of these issues we face as women because this article would easily become a novel. Instead, I am going to focus on one issue that has affected me since the mature age of nine; that issue is having a period. No, I am not going to complain about my body doing its job. I am going to complain about how expensive it is to have a period.

One reason why it is so expensive is because the period products that prevent us from bleeding everywhere are taxed as a luxury good. Yes, that small piece of cotton used to prevent women from bleeding on everything is considered a luxury. Along with the most high-end fur coats, top of the line perfumes, glamours cars, drugstore pads and tampons are considered luxurious enough to be taxed as so. According to a luxury tax levy on goods or services that are luxuries rather than necessities. The purpose this tax was so the wealthy can contribute to the economy when making lavish purchases.  By taxing these period products, it is implied that everyone that purchases a period product is rich along with implying that said products aren’t necessary. Well, a study done by found that thirty-eight million people were living in poverty fifty-six percent of those people were women which is equal to twenty-one million women in poverty. It is safe to assume that most of those women if not all those women had a regular cycle, my question is: Why are women undergoing financial struggle forced to contribute to the economy like a wealthy person would?

It is true that some people deem period products as not a necessity. However, by dictionary definition a necessity is something you need. All women need period products to deal with their periods. It is simple, that is that. I mean, what is the alternative? Free bleeding is not solving the problem it is simply ignoring it and based on how stigmatized periods already are, I’m not sure how that would play out with society.

According to an article published by the National Women’s Organization, women spend upwards to twenty-thousand dollars due to their period. I am not a fan of that number and neither of many of the women in my life. Sophia Ka says, “We have to spend so much money because of something we didn’t ask for, its outrageous,”. Classmate Telia Gansman says, “It’s stupid. If dudes had a period those products would never be taxed.” When my classmates heard what I was writing about I heard an array of agreeing sighs and supporting groans, it was clear that many other women are passionate about this. Having a period is already tough, you get to struggle with horrendous cramps, mood swings that make me question my own sanity, back pain that should be illegal, and don’t get me started on period paranoia.  On top of that we still have to proceed with everyday tasks like nothing is happening because if not you’ll get hit with the infuriating statement of “she must be on her period or something.” Just because you show a little bit of emotion. I am not saying period products should be free and I am not asking for special treatment. I am simply saying that women shouldn’t have to pay a luxury tax on something that I and most women need. Women shouldn’t be punished for bleeding.