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The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

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Reem Kirja 25
Reem Kirja
Print Profiles Editor

(She/her) Reem Kirja is the West Side Story print Profiles Editor and this is her second year on staff. She enjoys exploring different world issues and having intellectual discussions to learn about other...

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The problem with period products

Have you ever found it weird to be paying for period products when they’re something that is so necessary for 26% of the global population? Well it is weird. Menstrual products should be free. Not just for the underprivileged but for everyone. There are many reasons why menstrual products should be free and the first one is the pink tax. 

 

The pink tax. You may have never heard of it, but it’s when products and services marketed towards women are marked up, while men pay much less for a product that is almost identical. You can see this in many things, such as deodorant, razors, hair and skin products, and as you might have guessed, pads and tampons are also affected. On average, personal care that is marketed towards women is 13% more expensive compared to men’s products that are similar.  More often than not, period products are taxed as a luxury product instead of being recognized as a basic necessity. Even though the majority of states in the US exempt period products from tax, there are still 22 states in the US that have taxes on period products.

 

Why should period products be free? They are a basic human right. About 26% of the global population menstruates in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Health. A common misconception is that you only need one product to last you the whole period of your cycle but in reality a person can use up to five products each day that they are bleeding. In the 40 years that one could be menstrating they spend about $13.25 per month which adds up to about $6,000.00 spent in a lifetime before tax is added. 

 

 Many homeless women do not have access to quality pads and tampons because of the high cost. If you happen to find some in a public restroom, more likely than not they will charge you for it. Even after making you pay for a necessity, you will still find yourself with the lowest quality products. Tampons that have cardboard applicators and pads that are very small and can only be worn for an hour or two if you have a heavy flow. 

 

For those who don’t menstruate, do ever walk into a public restroom and find yourself being charged for toilet paper? Most likely you will say no. If toilet paper is something that is provided for free, then why aren’t pads and tampons? According to a survey done by the researchers at St. Louis University, many people who lack the funds to buy menstrual products have used things like rags, plastic bags, toilet paper, diapers, and sometimes even paper towels that have been taken from public restrooms. Using these kinds of things in place of proper products can put your health at risk, which is just another reason to lower prices on products. As of 2023, it is estimated that 16.9 million menstruators in the US live in poverty and cannot afford period products. 

 

You may not have known but West High now provides free period products in their bathrooms. In the past they charged you 25 cents for one product that was low quality. Sometimes you would put the coin in and turn the knob just to end up with nothing. On many occasions the dispensers have been empty or broken and you just wasted 25 cents. Now that West provides them for free, there is no need to put in a coin or pay any money. You can find the products either on top of the dispensers or you can just turn the knob without inserting a coin. While it is amazing that the school has stepped up and made the products free, they are still providing us with the lowest quality products. These are the same products that they charged you for. 25 cents for a tampon with a cardboard applicator and another 25 cents for a pad that is far too small to last the day. While the effort is appreciated, there is still room for lots of improvements. To start; better products and a better way of storing them. When the products are haphazardly placed on top of the dispensers, they have a very high chance of falling off. Which happens all the time, you’ll walk into a bathroom and find boxes of pads and tampons on the floor and sometimes they’re even crushed from being stepped on. 

 

While it may take a lot of work to try and reduce or eliminate the cost of period products, the effort would be worth it. We would be helping so many people by taking at least one thing off the list of products they have to worry about buying. I’m sure that many of you reading this would also love the luxury of not worrying about the cost of menstrual products. A basic need like that should not be the reason someone worries about money. It’s time to stop looking down on a problem that affects so many people’s lives.

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