tampon tax: a #BloodyOutrage
Do you think tampons and pads are luxury items? Well, in Australia, women pay a 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on these items because they are defined as a luxury. Shall I use that in a sentence? ‘Gee whiz, it feels mighty luxurious when I am sitting in a public place and I’m not bleeding on the seat.’
Condoms, personal lubricant, incontinence pads, folate supplements, and sunscreen are all GST free. How is it not blatant sexism, when an item necessary in the lives of most women is taxed, but lube isn’t? And when the alternative is using old rags, tampons are not a luxury. (For the record, menstrual cups, a reusable alternative to pads and tampons, is also taxed with the GST).
The argument back in 2000, when the GST came in, was that health items that prevented illness, such as condoms and quit-smoking products were GST exempt. The logic was that tampons didn’t prevent illness and were therefore a luxury item. How about we all stop wearing sanitary products and then see how this argument stands up.
At the time, Howard explained it away by avoiding the topic: ‘I mean, of course if you look at tampons in isolation – just as you look at something else in isolation – you can mount an argument to take the tax off it… But we’ve had that argument and if you start doing that, you will have no GST in the end, and the whole system will begin to unravel.’ In my mind this paraphrases to: If you look at sexism on it’s own, sure it looks bad. But if you take it out the whole system will begin to unravel.
The conversation started up again in 2009. We had a new Labor Government. These were the peeps on our side back in 2000 who fought against the tampon tax. Coles supermarkets announced that they would reduce the cost of tampons by 10% because ‘you shouldn’t be taxed for being a woman’. Did the Labor Government end the tax? Alas, ladies are still paying an extra 10% for the luxury of not bleeding everywhere.
The issue has come back to the fore since Perth student Sophie Liley started a change.org petition.
‘Putting a tax on products women need as a direct consequence of their biology is fundamentally sexist,’ says Liley, and I happen to agree with her. The petition asksPrime Minister Gillard and Opposition Leader Abbot and their leading ministers to end the tax on tampons and other sanitary items.
This tax is sexist, no way around it. Women NEED to use sanitary items each month if they are going to continue to be functional members of society. Pads and tampons are an integral part of being a healthy woman.
There is an election coming up and as Liley says in her petition, ‘pundits are saying that women aged 18-45 will determine the election in September’. This is discrimination. Let’s make this an election issue. Make some noise. Tweet at our Prime Minister and Opposition leader (@JuliaGillard and @TonyAbbottMHR), use the hashtag #BloodyOutrage. Share the petition on Facebook and Twitter. Talk about it.
This tax says that managing menstruation is a luxury. It’s not. It’s a right. Fight for it.
Help axe the tampon tax, Lipsters. Sign the petition here.