By Athanasia Platis
I’m not here to make an argument for why the tampon tax should be abolished. The reality is that the arguments about luxuriousness, medical issues, and practical uses of tampons/pads don’t matter. The reality is that the tampon tax is patriarchal oppression of people with bleeding uteri.
I cannot address all I want to in a short article—especially as a PhD student who plans to make her (menstrual) mark in the world of gender and sexual medicalization. But I do want to address this: periods are for all.
Why? Simply put, every person exists because of a missed period.
Is that the only reason to care about abolishing the tax? No! Abolishing the tax and undoing menstrual stigma is about recognizing humanity in menstruators. Menstruators are worthy of respect no matter where they are in their cycle, and yet, visibly bleeding women are judged. And so are the people who do not bleed—be it because of pregnancy, transitioning, or medical reasons.
To bleed is wrong. To not bleed is wrong. This inability to win is the crux of menstrual patriarchal oppression.
Beyond my PhD research, I participate in public sociology. I am a burlesque dancer and my favorite act to perform (and the first act I will be bringing back post-COVID) is my “Period Piece” act. I worked to create an act that juxtaposed sex with menstruation.
With so many people avoiding menstrual sex because of the “gross” factor, I want to show that the two coexist. Not only do they coexist, but one does not cancel out or negate the other.
Sexiness is a part of life. And so is vaginal bleeding.
To me, “periods for all” isn’t about period positivity. It’s about period neutrality. Menstruation is a natural biological function that because of patriarchy, medical constructionism, and religion has been denigrated.
Celebrating menstruation is not the solution.
Letting menstruators bleed as they choose to—or choose not to—is the solution. No taxation. No social ostracization. No more using of periods to justify birth control use.
I hold up a double-sided sign in my burlesque act. One side says, “seize the means of reproduction” (a nod to my Karl Marx-influenced stage name).
Taxation—particularly without representation—is capitalist patriarchal oppression. Seize the means and abolish the tax.
The other side of my sign says, “Menstruation is the only blood not born of violence, but it’s the one that disgusts you the most” (by Maia Schwartz).
Stop taxing natural bodily functions and human existence. Because violence is more disgusting than menstrual blood.
Anything you can do, I can do bleeding.