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

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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