Women are worth it

The effect of the pink tax on women


Hunter Keaster/Talon

Ava Harris discusses the pink tax, a increase in price for women’s products merely due to the fact that they are for women.

If toilet paper is free in public restrooms, then pads and tampons should be too. I’ve never had to walk into a bathroom and wonder if I’m going to have to pay for toilet paper, why should I worry about feminine products? 

What about homeless women? They can’t afford these products, so how are they supposed to stay healthy? The answer is simple. Tampons and pads should be free in public restrooms. Women shouldn’t have to pay for something that is a part of their biology. 

According to NBC Connecticut, women in America collectively spend more than $2 billion on these products every year. A single woman spends approximately $1,773 on tampons alone in her lifetime. 

Periods are often spoken of like they are regular — like clockwork or a recurring date on a calendar. But that isn’t always true. So, even adult women can be caught off guard and be unprepared. 

And what about young women? A person’s first period can be very shocking — many young women aren’t prepared and won’t expect it, and may be scared and unsure of what to do in that situation. They may not have change in their pocket to get products from a dispensing machine. They may feel too shy to go ask a friend or adult for help.

According to Nah’Ja Washington from Her Campus, when she got her period for the first time, she went to the nurse to ask for a pad and the nurse said she could have it for two dollars, which she didn’t have, so Washington had to miss half of the school day. 

Beyond period products, many hygiene products shared by men and women, like razors and shampoo, cost more when packaged just for women. This is known as the Pink Tax. Shampoo and conditioner marketed to women cost an average of 48% more than men; women’s razors and deodorant also cost more simply because they have a “pink” label. 

There are around 130,000 homeless people in California, 33.4% of them being women, meaning almost 43,000 homeless Californians have periods that they will struggle to afford. Pads and tampons are also donated less than simple hygiene products such as toothbrushes. Since it’s one of the least donated items, and they don’t have much money, it’s practically impossible for them to get tampons and pads.

According to Rimed, Dr. Allegra Parrillo said that a homeless patient told her that her shelter only provides two pads per cycle, and an average woman uses 20 pads per cycle. This causes an even bigger issue because they have to reuse the same pad which is not sanitary and can lead to health problems such as fungal and bacteria infections as well as irritation of the skin.

Toilet paper, soap and paper towels are all necessities which are free in bathrooms. Tampons are not free and yet they’re a necessity. It can be humiliating for women to deal with a lack of hygiene products, especially in a work or school environment. Men don’t have to worry about going to the bathroom and not having sanitary products, but millions of women every day have to worry about this for their menstrual cycle. However, 33% of men don’t consider affordable feminine products a right. A quarter of U.S. adults disagree that tampons and pads should be available free of charge in all school restrooms. 

Making feminine products available to all women for free is just one step forward in a long line of changes  to make equality more accessible to all women.