Our Right to Tampons!


Pathetic and stupid. That’s only the beginning of the insults that were thrown at college student Zoey Freedman. Why?  For writing a column in her school’s newspaper about subsidized tampons.  Yep, you read that correctly: pathetic and stupid – just for talking about tampons. Seems like a little much, no?

In her column, titled “Free tampons would slow the flow of gender inequality,” Ms. Freedman argued that tampons – and other feminine hygiene products, like panty liners and pads – are essential to women’s health. Therefore, they should not be treated as a “luxury” in the eyes of the government. She writes: “Free or subsidized tampons through health care services can ensure that women at least have the right to a happy and healthy lifestyle, especially when that time of the month rolls around.”

The response to her article was horrifying. Seriously, read the comments – you would have thought she was advocating to sterilize men everywhere.

What’s with all of the commotion? Although modern tampons with applicators weren’t invented until 1929, tampons have been around for thousands of years. First, ancient Egyptians crafted them from softened papyrus; later, ancient Greeks made them from lint wrapped around a small piece of wood. (Sounds comfortable.)


Vintange Tampon Ads From the 1930's and 1940's
Vintange Tampon Ads From the 1930’s and 1940’s


By 1973, when Playtex introduced the plastic, dome-tipped applicator, tampons were used by 70% of American households. According to Tampax, their tampons are used by more than 100 million women in 150 countries. In a woman’s lifetime, she will, on average, use 11,400 tampons!

Ms. Freedman’s points are valid: feminine hygiene products are both expensive and necessary. Every month (typically), women get their period and they need a combination of pads and tampons to stop the flow. Without these, we would be free bleeding. These products, which can cost close to $10 a box, ensure that women have one less thing to worry about 4-7 days out of the month.

According to A New York Times blog post, “for the more than 40 million women in this country living in poverty or on the brink of it – and for whom the cost of feminine hygiene products is yet another burden on an already stretched budget – periods are no joke. A year’s supply of tampons and pads costs upwards of $70 and is not covered by food stamps. For homeless women, the problem of lack of access to menstrual hygiene care is often compounded by ‘minimal access to safe sanitary spaces’ like toilets and showers.”

Currently, healthcare covers erectile dysfunction treatments, including penile transplants. While erectile dysfunction is certainly unpleasant, it is not something men are born with and it primarily impacts a man’s sexual performance. Why is a man’s sexual pleasure given precedence over a woman’s basic health?

What a frightening thought.  What are your thoughts on this issue?  Let us know in the comments!