The ‘tampon tax’ is not a marginal issue – it’s the force of structural sexism at work | Gabrielle Jackson

In New York they have just repealed the tax on mentstrual products as a matter of social justice. This taxation on being a woman is insulting to us all

Im sick of conversations about the tax on tampons being shut down by claims that there are more important issues to worry about. Of course there are. There are always more important things to worry about. But this really is despite what youve “ve been told” an issue of vital importance. An issue that represents in lurid detail the lack of consideration given to womens health and wellbeing.

It is, as New York governor Andrew Cuomo noted upon repealing the nation sales tax on menstruation products last week, a matter of social and economic justice. Its also a matter of equal opportunities.

Women already pay more for haircuts, clothes, razors, mortgages and automobiles, and pretty much any other product that is likely to be feminised. And we pay the GST on most of those higher-priced products. The fact we are also charged a taxation on what amounts to a medical product is an outrage.

It feelings obscene to remind people that these are products females have to buy every month. Its not a selection. We could, I suppose, choose not to buy menstrual products and use tree bark instead but the impacts on our health would be disastrous if we did( theyre called sanitary or hygiene products for a reason ).

But its even more obscene that this is a country in which an Aboriginal woman was fined $ 500 for stealing a $6.75 box of tampons. Penalty for stealing a necessity she couldnt afford could there be a more heartbreaking example of the economic stress paying for these products every month has on girls living in poverty? For too many girls, every penny countings.

There was a brief moment of hope for Australian women in 2015 when Joe Hockey agreed to consult the states about lifting the goods and services taxation on menstrual products. Alas, the country treasurers couldnt agree to remove the tax because stimulating economic growth was deemed more important.

At the time, Labor claimed to support lifting the GST and shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said: These are in effect health products and arent simply a matter of choice for women.

And then along came the federal electoral campaign during which Bill Shorten changed his mind, saying we cant afford to lose the revenue.

He wants the revenue. Lets just think about that for a moment.

Women already earn 17.9% less than men in Australia.

Women do the bulk of unpaid labor, such as cook, cleaning and housework, with Australian girls being among the most overworked in the world.

The industries slated for penalty rate cuts are those dominated by women, while in male-dominated industries, penalty rates remain untouched.

Women retire with 53% of the superannuation that men retire with.

Women are significantly more likely to experience poverty than humen.

And the government needs more revenue from us ?

Ive got an idea: why not introduce a human taxation? You could just add a levy to the incomes of men. This would have the dual benefit of inducing up the revenue lost from the GST on menstrual products( estimated to be about $120 m over four years) and level the playing field to its implementation of disposable income for men and women.

Did you bristle when “youre reading” that, fellas? Because thats what the tampon taxation amounts to: a taxation on being a woman, and I bristle every time I think about that.

Not merely should the tax on menstrual products be lifted immediately but menstrual beakers and pads should be available through pharmacies and listed on the pharmaceutical benefits strategy, available for a basic flat fee or free for women on benefits. Stimulating menstrual cups free would be very economical since they last 10 years and are much better for the environment.

This doesnt definitely sounds like a marginal issue to me, it looks like a powerful force-out of structural sexism. The policy is either grossly negligent of the lived experience of women or a deliberate attempt to keep females worse off than men. Either style, its an insult to every woman in this country.

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