Menstrual Equity, or What Happens When Government Officials Have Too Much Time On Their Hands

Modern America has a lot of deep and complicated issues to deal with – race, immigration, healthcare, The Bachelor.

With so much to attend to it’s hard to imagine our government officials fitting one more thing on their plate, but have no worries. Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) isn’t about to let anything slip through the cracks. New York’s 6th District representative has taken up a cause that is sure to flow through the American conscience and make us all red with rage – menstrual equality.

What is menstrual equity? In a recent interview with Marie Claire magazine Meng described it as the fight against “period-shaming” and claims the laws in our country encourage women to feel shame about their periods. Her solution is to introduce more laws to help normalize the reality of this bodily function and provide feminine hygiene products (are we allowed to refer to them as such anymore? I can’t keep up these days) for the needy, poor and imprisoned.

Did you know that there are girls who skip school when they get their periods? If they can’t afford pads or tampons and don’t want anyone to see they’ve stained their clothes, they may feel like they have no choice. That’s not just something that happens in developing countries. It happens right here in the United States. Right in my home district of Queens, New York.

At her website, Meng says her bill would:

  1. Allow individuals to buy menstrual hygiene products with money they contribute to their flexible spending accounts.
  2. Provide a refundable tax credit to low-income individuals who regularly use menstrual hygiene products.
  3. Allow grant funds from the Emergency Food and Shelter Grant Program, which can be used by homeless assistance providers for essential household items, to be used for menstrual hygiene products.
  4. Require each state to provide menstrual hygiene products to female inmates and detainees, at no cost and on demand, as a condition of receiving funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.
  5. Direct the Secretary of Labor to require employers with 100 or more employees to provide menstrual hygiene products to their employees free of charge.

Meng’s concern here isn’t all that misplaced and as ridiculous as a “Menstrual Equity Act” sounds (and it does sound utterly ridiculous to say out loud), part of the congresswoman’s concern about inequity in feminine care is founded. Her home state of New York levies a tax on tampons and sanitary pads as “luxury goods” which is grossly offensive and yes, sexist. Meng decided that period equity shouldn’t stop at a tax, it should be a nationwide concern.

I appreciate the congresswoman’s concern for female hygiene and accessibility to necessary products and I definitely stand with her on removing that ridiculous tax on tampons.

Either a 9-year-old child or a dude that came up with that one because only someone who doesn’t menstruate would ever connect a period with “luxury.”

“What’s wrong with you today, honey? You’re so cranky!”

“Oh, I’m luxuriating this week. I’m on my luxury!”

The problem with this (again, oh-so-ridiculous sounding) legislation is that it’s legislation. Like most full-time politicians, Meng is proposing to solve a problem with more rules.

There is nothing new or secretive about women and periods. There is no shortage of access to feminine products in this country. Shelters, private charities, government programs and any human just looking to be generous all know how to find tampons and pads. There is no charitable program in this country that provides direct basic services for women that doesn’t deal with the realities of a woman’s menstrual cycle. All of those needs are provided for by people who understand that most women menstruate every month and thus need sanitary supplies. There is no need to legislate something people are already doing.

On top of that, Meng (like a good Democrat) is asking that taxpayers pick up the cost of periods by funding “free” hygiene products and even offering a tax credit for low-income women who purchase them every month.

So let’s see- she wants old women who don’t have periods anymore and men to pay for my tampons but only if I’m poor. If I don’t qualify for the income requirement I’m out of luck.

Age discrimination and income discrimination.

This is what happens when our representatives are full-time residents of congress. They get bored. They have nothing better to do than dream up new bills so they can have their name attached to something and get their per diems just for showing up every day.

Women have been figuring out their periods just fine for millennia without Meng and her fellow Democrats forcing everyone else to think about them constantly. Of course our periods are nothing to be ashamed of and of course we are still reluctant to talk openly about them in public. That doesn’t mean women are ashamed or shamed. Much like having a bowel movement, a period is a natural function of the body that is also a very private function for obvious reasons. We don’t need to publicly fund every private biological function.

We certainly don’t need to legislate periods.