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.

Family

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture