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Family

The 'tampon tax' is real: These are the 40 states taxing periods.

Maybe cramps are the uterus' way of eye-rolling?

When I think of luxury items, I think of video games, cars, maybe even Cheetos. Something I (and most people) would never put on that list? Tampons.

But apparently I should start.


Currently 40 states in the United States impose a tax — either a regular sales or gross receipts tax or a luxury tax — on tampons and other menstrual products.

Is your state one of them? Map via Fusion and this great article by Taryn Hillin, used with permission.

People with uteruses are paying a monthly toll, getting taxed extra for something they can't control: their periods.

Sanitary products in the varying states' tax laws sometimes fall under the "luxury tax," which applies to products or services deemed unnecessary or nonessential. To make things more uncomfortable, the tax is also sometimes referred to as the "sin tax."

In what world is dealing with a period nonessential and luxurious? Not ours.

As anyone who menstruates knows to be true, sanitary products are an essential and expected part of life. At work, at school, or pretty much anywhere, it's not an option to go without caring for your health and hygiene. And making sure you're covered every month really adds up: If tampons are your go-to, you could be spending almost $2,000 on those alone in your lifetime. Putting an extra tax on them only adds to that financial burden.

Taxes can be confusing, sure, especially since they're all state-level. But certain conditions do make you wonder. For example, most states don't tax on essential items like groceries, which often includes candy and sugary drinks.

No matter your sweet tooth, it's hard to argue that candy is essential. But you'd be hard pressed to find someone who could say that it's not essential to deal with a non-optional part of life every month.

One of them is taxed and the other sometimes isn't. Image via Brad Cerenzia/Flickr.

Activist Jennifer Weiss-Wolf and Cosmopolitan have teamed up to demand legislators in 40 states drop the tampon tax.

Their petition has already garnered over 30,000 signatures.

As the first to really shine a light on the tampon tax in the United States, they're hoping that states will follow the lead of the those that have said "no" to it: Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

The tampon tax is not just happening in the United States. Canada eliminated its tampon tax earlier this year.

A demonstration in Paris on Nov. 11, 2015. Photo by Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images

In the summer of 2015, a successful public campaign helped convince the Canadian Parliament to vote unanimously on eliminating the national tampon tax in Canada. A big victory!

Other campaigns can be found from Australia to parts of Europe, with women protesting the tampon tax on social media and even free-bleeding (which is exactly what you think it is) to make a point in public spaces. Women from all over are demanding that their governments eliminate this unnecessary tax.

If we want to live in a more equal world, this is a good start.

The menstruation taboo still stands strong today, whether a girl's period becomes the butt of a joke in a movie or it forces a girl to actually drop out of school in a developing country. This stigmatization especially affects disadvantaged communities, where resources and education aren't as readily available to start conversations and shift perceptions.

A topic like menstruation should be accessible everywhere. Image via Scott Forster/Flickr.

Access to sanitary products is a right, not a luxury.

When our periods are used against us, it sends a message that we are being punished just for existing. That's not the world we want to live in. As Canadians can attest, this tax can be defeated. We might as well try.

You can start by signing the petition here.

You can tax me for my Cheetos, but leave my already-expensive tampons alone, please. I'm trying to kick ass in this world and that's one more thing that unfairly gets in the way.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

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Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

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Pop Culture

YouTube star MrBeast sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery to help them see again

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up."

YouTube star sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery

Blindness touches people's lives around the world and YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, more popularly known as MrBeast, is trying to do something about it. Donaldson made it his mission to help 1,000 people regain their eyesight with the help of Dr. Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida.

Levenson has been operating a program called "Gift of Sight" for over 20 years. The program provides free cataract surgery to uninsured people who are legally blind for free, so long as they meet certain criteria. Levenson had never heard of Donaldson, and he almost hung up on him when the YouTube star called to ask about a partnership.

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up," Levenson told CNN.

After figuring out that Donaldson was indeed a real person who wanted to help others, the duo called around the Jacksonville area to determine the people who needed help the most. They got their list of clients from free clinics and homeless shelters, which covered the United States portion of the surgeries.

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A mom makes sensory sand by putting Cheerios in a blender.

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Gaël Monfils makes tennis a must-see.

Tennis isn't always the most entertaining sport to watch, especially if you're not particularly interested in seeing a ball get slapped across a net at 1,000,000 mph approximately 17,000 times. You could probably get whiplash or eye strain if you focused too hard on it. While some people love the sport, others need a little more than grunts and sneaker sounds to capture their attention.

If you're in the group of people who need to be entertained, look no further than Gaël Monfils, a professional French tennis player that has earned the nickname, "The Entertainer." Monfils turned pro in 2004 and has multiple championship matches under his belt, and yet he still takes the time to be...extra while playing.

In a compilation video uploaded to TikTok, we see the 36-year-old tennis player dancing after hitting the ball across the net just out of his opponent's reach. But of course, he also doesn't hit the ball like your average player, either. In one part of the video, Monfils jumps up extremely high and bicycle kicks as he hits the ball with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

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