Blood Money (Why Tax My Vagina?)

By Katie Golway

When I was nine or ten, my mother ambushed me in the living room. There were two objects in her hands. She introduced me to them with, “This is a pad. This is a tampon.”  

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I did not actually get my period until I was twelve. There was little education between the initial conversation with my mother and the event itself. In my distress, I demanded that my mother take me to the doctor. I was not certain if she would be able to validate my terror over something she knew to anticipate.

As I grew more accustomed to the various changes in my body, my horror turned to the cost of these sanitary products. According to Gladrags.com, the average cost of a box of those tampons is seven dollars. The average cost of a box of pads is nine dollars.  There were times that I bled so profusely that I had to borrow even more money than I anticipated. Medical professionals advise that tampons are to be changed every two to three hours. The choice is to risk toxic shock syndrome, or purchase another box. Considering those facts, the cost adds up. This does not include the price of new clothes and bed sheets forever blood stained, days of work missed due to symptoms, etcetera.

I no longer have to pay for sanitary products because of my birth control, but I still have to pay twenty dollars for the medication. Insurance plans will cover the cost of Viagara; however. Viagara functions as a drug for older men who are having trouble with their own sexual gratification. Birth control implements hormones to stabilize periods, therefore preventing symptoms that can have significant effects on daily life. Between myself and my insurance company, one of us is confused about what a necessity is.

I am fortunate enough to be able to work so that I can afford access to the products that I need. However, others are not as fortunate. I am frequently confronted with advertisements that encourage people to provide the homeless with the sanitary products that they cannot purchase. There is no humanity in allowing someone to bleed through what could be the only clothes they have access to. There is crippling pain that could cause loss of consciousness, headaches, and fever in addition to the uncertainty of where to bathe. Charging for the sanitary products people are deprived of guarantees misery.

The U.S. military covers the cost of Viagra, which is a medication for erectile dysfunction. It is also covered by MedicAID. Why is society intent on prioritizing the sexual gratification of men when birth control gives relief to function? Does all of this really add up to the anti-birth control narrative of, “if women don’t want babies, then they shouldn’t have sex”? My body is not a factory. I should not have to pay to keep it running.

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