The Scottish Parliament has approved plans to give free sanitary products to women nationwide, according to Reuters. That sound you now hear is the swiping of millions of credit cards of people who have just booked a round-trip flight to Scotland with a single empty suitcase. The legislation, which passed through a first vote in Parliament on Tuesday and requires a second vote to take effect, would provide free pads and tampons in “designated public places such as community centers, youth clubs, and pharmacies, at an estimated annual cost of 24.1 million pounds ($31.2 million).” Currently, Scotland provides free sanitary products in schools, colleges, and universities and was the first country to do so in 2018.
“Why is it in 2020 that toilet paper is seen as a necessity but period products aren’t?” a lawmaker in Scotland said during the bill’s debate, “Being financially penalized for a natural bodily function is not equitable or just.” Damn fucking right.
Period products, even ones that are supposed to be cost-friendly, are expensive—a fact that seems to escape most lawmakers in the U.S. They’re an unavoidable necessity for most people with uteruses and yet not only are they not free, in states like New York and New Jersey, they’re taxed as a luxury item. As hard as tampon and pad companies may try, there is nothing luxurious about bleeding onto a wad of unknown fabric. Even less luxurious is origami folding a period cup into just the right shape and angling it in such a way as to get it adequately shoved up one’s vaginal canal on the first try. A year ago, as I was throwing a hormone-fueled tantrum in my apartment about the cost of tampons and how I never had them on hand when I needed, I decided that I would stop paying for tampons on principle. Instead, I’ve made New York my own version of Scotland, and now hoard them from gyms and any other location I’m lucky enough to find a pile of tampons sitting out for public consumption.
In my lifetime, I have spent over $4000 on period products, not including money spent on birth control methods to regulate my cycles or medication to dull the excruciating pain that comes every month. Right now, a round trip flight from Newark to Edinburgh with layovers in Dublin is about $2000. If everyone is very nice to me, I will take two empty suitcases along on my trip and return like a tampon fairy, showering all who believe with free sanitary products. Congratulations to the Scottish Parliament on what I can only assume is their greatest achievement since negotiating the ascent of King James VI.