The POLITICS of PERIODS: Insensitive comments and the ‘pink tax’ leave females fuming


Gian Carlo Baldonado, Staff Writer

In light of a veto to a bill that would have eliminated the “tampon tax,” Californians will remain paying a tax for products that many argue are necessities, not luxuries.

Five states, including New York and recently Illinois, have already axed the tax by banning the extra cost on feminine hygiene products. But on Sept. 13, 2016, California Gov. Jerry Brown rejected AB 1561 that would have exempted feminine products –– tampons, sanitary pads, menstrual cups, sponges, etc. –– from the state’s sales tax.

“Tax breaks are the same as new spending –– they both cost the General Fund money,” Brown said in his veto message.

In a photo posted by Brown’s aide Nancy McFadden on Twitter, Brown elaborated that the bill, along with six others proposed, “would reduce revenues by about $300 million through 2017-18.”

According to a “CNNMoney” article by Jeanne Sahadi, California’s Board of Equalization estimates that 15 percent of this $300 million tax revenue comes from the sale of feminine products.

Advocates of the bill argue that the $20 million income derived from the tampon tax, known as a “pink tax,” is unfair because mostly women pay for this tax.

As an opponent of Brown’s decision, Assembly member Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) says that women are being taxed for their biology. Garcia told “The Huffington Post” that Brown was “mansplaining” his way out of responsibility and “propping up the state budget on the backs of women.”
Students and faculty at Bear Creek also take issue with the Governor’s rationale.

“We do tax cuts all the time for all kinds of things and [the tampon tax] has been a tax for literally decades,” biology teacher Kim Forbis said. “It’s really too bad because it is an unfair tax on women that I think we should really get rid of.”

“Girls’ periods are very common; they come every month,” senior Ambra Tabuyo said. “[Tampons] shouldn’t be taxed because they’re not luxury but more of a need.”

Tabuyo also addressed the double standard that exists between feminine and tax-exempt medical products.

“It is unfair that the guys can get Viagra without tax,” Tabuyo said. “It is not even essential to guys. . .[but] tampons –– every girl needs them.”
According to Fusion writer Taryn Hillin, with the exception of necessities (non-luxury items that are essential for everyday life), states tax all luxury items that are considered “tangible personal property.”

Considering that half of the US population experiences menstruation that they cannot control, it is safe to say that tampons and other feminine hygiene products are anything but luxuries.

“[AB 1561] is not insignificant to women, especially poor women on a tight budget who struggle to pay for basic necessities like a box of tampons or pads every month for their adult life,” Garcia said in the California Assembly Democratic Caucus website. “If we can’t make them free we should at least make them more affordable.”

As Brown’s controversial veto puts menstruation in the limelights of the political arena, other important figures also weighed in on the issue.
“I have no idea why states would tax [tampons] as luxury items,” President Barack Obama said in an interview with Youtube personality Ingrid Nilsen. “I suppose it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.”

Perhaps men ought to apologize to women who have been providing the government $20 million per year, according to estimation by California’s Board of Equalization, for a necessity they cannot afford to skip.