The Cost of Owning a Vagina

Story By: Madeleine Caraluzzi

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Madeleine Caraluzzi

Lately I’ve been thinking: Why aren’t tampons free?

I don’t choose to get my period, and menstruation is something you can’t ignore; if women didn’t wear pads or tampons and “free bled” men would lose it, I imagine the word “dirty” being thrown around, and that’d be the kinder ones.

So then why did I spend $14 on tampons the other day? Why is it that women spend on average $46 every year to keep themselves from this prejudice?

Ok I did some research and development. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the conclusion that tampons being free is not plausible at this point in history. Why? Because corporations are making money off the basic biology of woman.

And it doesn’t stop there: they’re also making some extra money off gender-stereotyped products marketed towards women like shampoo, deodorants, and calculators, even simple day to day services like haircuts, health care, dry cleaning and car maintenance are among this long list of financial discrepancies.

It’s called the “Pink Tax,” and essentially it’s gender-based price inequality draining ladies’ wallets. 

example of the Pink Tax

The omnipresent pay wage gap between the sexes only worsens the situation (female full-time workers make only 79 cents for every dollar earned by a man, a percentage that can significantly decrease for women of color). In an increasingly expensive world it’s painful to think we can’t immediately escape it. And that doesn’t add up. Call it business, but this is plain structural sexism.

Luckily, it’s not all a big loss – California is currently the only state to ban gender pricing discrimination after composing a study that found women paid $1,351 more than men a year, and with the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act 18 different FDA approved forms of birth control (pills, IUD, injectable, etc.) are now sold without monthly co-payments or deductibles (although some health care providers have exemptions).

I wish I knew the exact moves to eradicate the systemic imbalance between the sexes, but alas I only know how to perpetuate what the patriarchy don’t wanna see. Spreading awareness about impositions like the Pink Tax is a good place to start.

One small but effective way to avoid it is to check the ingredients; Excedrin Complete Menstrual contains the same ingredients as Excedrin Extra Strength, but the “M” word costs us half a dollar extra for the same size bottle. Other retailed medicinal products like wrinkle cream have also been known to cost more when intended for women.

Another way to avoid the Pink Tax is help fight to get rid of it.

Next time you’re in Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Walmart (really any store) find your gender-specified section of the toiletries aisle and look for the inconsistencies. Slam companies on social media. It doesn’t hurt anyone but the corporations.

In the end, I just pray that someday tampons are offered free to the public, sort of like needle exchanges.

Ok but a less tragic freedom.

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