THE SANTA CLARA
October 20, 2016
As if shaving almost all my body hair isn’t annoying enough, I am also expected to pay more for my “female” razor, when the only real difference is the color. Same goes for my deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, among other things.
This is a result of gender-based pricing, which means that women’s products and services are more expensive than those for men simply because they are made for women.
If that alone doesn’t upset you, take a look at the numbers. According to a 2010 Consumer Report, women spend on average 50% more than men on the different versions of the same products.
If I really wanted to save money, I could switch over to men’s products. It would be an added annoyance, but I admit it is possible.
What isn’t possible is to forego all menstrual products. If I could give up getting my period, trust me, I would. But I can’t stop my period, meaning I can’t stop buying tampons, just like I can’t stop buying food and water
The difference is, in forty states including California, food and medical supplies are considered necessities that are exempt from state sales tax, while menstrual products are not.
Apart from food and medical supplies, some of these tax exempt items include condoms, candy, school yearbooks, farm equipment and garment alterations. In some states, even Viagra falls under this category.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Reese’s Pieces, but this delicious snack is not central to my livelihood. Yet, while it receives a tax-exemption, my menstrual products are given a luxury task.
I am not the only one that is confused by this “tampon tax,” as it is now commonly referred to. President Barack Obama also doesn’t get it.
In an interview with YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen, Obama said “I have no idea why states would tax these as luxury items. I suspect it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.”
Even the leader of the free world does not support this tax, yet the states don’t seem to get it.
This past January, California assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, in hopes of bringing gender equity to her state’s tax code, announced Assembly Bill 1561. This bill would put an end to the tampon tax.
According to a newsletter sent out by her office, tampon and sanitary napkin sales in California produce over $20 million annually. On average, a woman spends seven dollars a month for forty years on these products.
My part time job is currently enough for me to get by as a college student, and luckily buying tampons and pads has yet to break my bank account. Many other women are getting by despite the tampon tax. But we should not have to.
Women still make 80 cents to the man’s dollar. The fight for gender equality is not over. Gender-based pricing and the tampon tax are another daily obstacle that women have to face. Somehow, the people in power that are capable of making change seem to think it is acceptable to tax women more simply because they’re women.
Governor Jerry Brown proved this to be correct. Despite the efforts made by Garcia and many others, earlier this year, Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 1561 because he believes “tax breaks are the same thing as new spending.”
To Governor Jerry Brown, and many others, I would like to say that menstrual bleeding is not a luxury. It’s not even a choice. Treating it as such is just another backwards law that’s sole purpose is taxing women for being women.
If this doesn’t outrage you, then you are part of the problem.
Veronica Marquez is a sophomore communications and ethnic studies major.
Articles in the Opinion section represent the views of the individual authors only and not the views of The Santa Clara or Santa Clara University