Periods and the “Tampon Tax”- Why tampons and pads are not “luxury items”

By: Jillian James

 

 

Women all across the country are currently paying the price for having a period- literally. The vast majority of states tax tampons and pads as “nonessential products” and tax them under the general sales tax or a gross receipt tax. There has been a call in recent years to remove the tax on tampons and pads and start classifying them as “necessities”  or non-luxury products.

 

Simply put, people are being taxed for items that they must buy to in order to maintain something that they have no control over. The tampon tax is archaic. Pads, tampons, and other items are necessary for women to buy, and taxing them like they are not is biased. It is time for society to start recognizing women’s health and remove the period stigma.

 

The tax should be removed because it unfairly targets women. In an article published in March 2016, NPR stated that in the state of Wisconsin sales tax is not applied for erectile dysfunction products like Viagra, and yet it is applied to tampons and pads. Historically women have been taught to be ashamed of their period. Now that society is becoming more open and topic is less taboo, the tampon tax is finally being brought up in Legislatures all across the country.

 

In the Colorado Legislature there is currently a bill with bipartisan support that would eliminate the state sales tax on feminine hygiene products. “Having a period is not a choice, and these products are a necessity. We shouldn’t tax a woman for being a woman, “said Rep. Susan Lontine (D-Denver).

There have been “free-bleeding” movements and protests in recent years where women don’t wear pads or tampons to illustrate how necessary they are for women’s health. They sit in public places in order to illustrate just how distracting and detrimental it would be if women didn’t wear hygiene products. Whether at work or school, a woman cannot walk around with a period stain on her clothes. Given the choice, the vast majority of women would choose to not have their period, and we shouldn’t be taxed for something that is a natural bodily function.

 

Contact your local representative and tell them that you want the tampon tax removed. Research free bleeding movements and have discussions with your friends or partner about periods and women’s heath. States should not profit on women’s periods. Its time to accept the fact that all women menstruate and to make tampons and pads as affordable and accessible as possible

Breaking down G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board

By: Nicole Mclaren

The Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) plays a very important role but it does not receive very much attention even though their rulings have a much further reach and lasting impact than any political party or administration. In the past year since the passing of Justice Scalia Americans have been paying slightly more attention to it because we are interested in who will fill that seat. Here though I would like to take time to address a timely and important case that SCOTUS will be hearing in a month. That is the case of G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board. The ruling could determine whether or not transgender students are allowed to use the bathroom of their choosing.

The case began in Virginia when a school board demanded that the student who brought the case, Gavin Grimm, use a single stall bathroom because the school board did not want him using the boys’ facility. Two courts have seen the case, the first ruling was in favor of the school board while the second was in favor of Gavin and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who are representing Gavin. The school board has now appealed to the Supreme Court whose decision is ultimately final.

This ruling could have direct implications on the rights of folks in the transgender community and a less direct but still hurtful impact on student communities in general. We must combat the idea that allowing folks to use their bathroom or other public facility of choice is somehow a hindrance on other people’s rights. This is not the only attempt to hinder the rights of transgender folks in our country. Multiple state legislatures have tried to pass laws that make it mandatory for people to use the bathroom of their gender at birth. As the next generation of power we need to stand up for the communities whose rights are being attacked. One way we can do that is by educating people about their rights so that they have the knowledge and power to defend themselves. The ACLU provides many educational tools to do this, so if you want to know your own rights or help other people learn about their own click this link and use the free tools that are provided for us to stand up for ourselves and each other. https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights

Womanism vs Feminism

By: Cassandra Hedrick

The Difference and Why It Matters.

When we think of women’s rights, we usually think of feminism, a well-established movement fighting for women’s rights. However, that is not the only women’s rights movement out there. Womanism, a term coined by Alice Walker, is very similar to feminism, but also makes a point to include women of color, which feminism didn’t in its early years. To be this does not make sense because, historically, civil rights have been so closely connected, especially during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Womanism is based in the everyday experiences and problem solving of African American women. It also focuses less on strictly women’s rights and includes issues of equality for all races and genders. Meanwhile, feminism, which is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis on gender equality,” hasn’t always included women of color.

In fact, early feminism and feminists were kind of racist. Women of color would have to march in the back of protests. Beyond that, white feminists did not even think about the issues black women faced, such as racism or poverty. For example, during the women’s suffrage movement, white feminists did not fight against things like poll taxes or literacy tests that would prevent women of color from being able to vote. Even in the recent women’s march, there has been criticism of white feminists not prioritizing the needs of women of color, such as women of color not being allowed to have natural hair in the work place.

While feminism has become more open to women of color, as well as gay and transgendered women, Womanism was there to bridge the gap that early feminism left. I’m not saying it is bad to identify as a feminist, but make sure you consider the experiences of women of color, which may differ from your own. Feminism and Womanism both stand for equality and whether you stand with one movement more than the other, you should too.

Sexual Assault or Harassment at School & Title IX

By: Cassandra Hedrick

What Title IX is and How it Works

Title IX is one of the 1972 Education Amendments. It requires schools to receive federal funding for fighting sex discrimination. This includes not being able to participate in an activity because of your sex, being denied benefits from your school because of your sex, and being sexually assaulted on campus or by someone you know from school. Title IX protects students, faculty, and those of any gender identity. This means those who identify outside the gender binary are protected as well This means they must have protocols for stopping any sort of sex discrimination in classrooms, sports, and clubs. If you cannot find these protocols, you can file a complaint here.

Beyond just making sure kids of any gender are treated equally, Title IX primarily deals with sexual assault. If you have been sexually assaulted at your school or by someone who goes to your school, you can file a Title IX report. Your school should have the instructions on how to do this in an easily accessible place, such as the school website or in your school handbook. They should also have a Title IX director who you can contact. If they do not have these things, you should file a complaint.

Beyond this, Title IX provides a “bill of rights” for victims of sexual assault. This includes providing the victim with any resources available to keep them in classes, clubs, and sports, such as providing security, allowing them to change classes, or anything else to prevent them from dealing with their attacker.  The Title IX office is also required to tell the victim of their options to report the attack (to the school, police, or both) and counseling resources.

Once you do report, your Title IX director is required to investigate and give you and the attacker the opportunity to make statements and give witnesses. You also have the right to know what happens during every step. This gives victims peace of mind; by letting them know what is happening during the process, they are not left wondering what is happening. Once the investigation is over, you must be notified of the outcome.

Title IX is there to protect both students and faculty from any kind of sex discrimination, including sexual assault. Every schools’ Title IX procedure should be “well advertised,” but if you can’t find it, you should file a complaint. You should have a Title IX director that will walk you through every step in the process and keep you informed at every step. These procedures are put in place to protect and give peace of mind to victims of sexual assault.

Women’s Reproductive Health Around the World

By: Jillian James

States, the issue of women’s access to healthcare is a topic that has received considerable attention lately and is something that women are fighting everyday for. However, in other countries the circumstances are sometimes dire, and women lack the basic medical care that they need.

According to the World Health Organization, every day in 2010 about 800 women died due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth. These complications can include severe bleeding, infections, hypertensive disorders, and unsafe abortions. Out of those 800 daily deaths however, only five of them occurred in high-income countries. 440 of them occurred in Africa and 230 occurred in southern Asia.

If a woman is born in an economically developing country then the odds are immediately stacked against her and the prospect of a pregnancy can be a terrifying one. If a woman who lives in a developing country gets pregnant, she is twenty five times more likely to die from a pregnancy related cause compared to women who become pregnant and live in developed countries, according to the World Health Organization.

When one looks at maternal morality there is a very clear and saddening distunction between those who are rich or poor and those who live in countries that have advanced healthcare systems in place.

When women don’t have access to healthcare, it’s devastating for the entire population. Partners in Health states that the lack of access contraception in the developing world lead 63.2[(million maybe?) or something]estimated unintended pregnancies in 2012, and that over 100,000 women could be saved from maternal deaths by simply having access to contraception.

Women face health inequities simply because they are women, and there is still a stigma that exists about women’s healthcare worldwide. Women in developing countries also sometimes lack opportunities to create their own source of income, which gives them no way to pay for their healthcare. All the factors that that contribute to gender inequality like limited access to education, legal systems that favor men and do little to protect women, and gender based violence are magnified by poverty and a lack of knowledge and understanding about women’s health.

In order to help, do your own individual research about organizations that help increase access to women’s health globally and support them. Educate yourself and others about the issues and raise awareness of this issue on your social media.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.pih.org/blog/women-still-face-big-gaps-in-access-to-health-care

http://www.who.int/gho/women_and_health/en/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2492587/

Sex Ed for Queers

By: Cassandra Hedrick

 

Recently, more and more kids and teens are coming out as gay, bisexual, or trans. However, LGBTQ+ sex is not included in most sex ed curriculums. In fact, only 12 states require sexual orientation to be taught and 3 of those only teach negative information, like homosexuality is a sin and a criminal lifestyle. This means the vast majority of LGBTQ+ youth are uninformed about how to practice safe sex.

It is common knowledge that you can’t get pregnant having sex with the same gender, so many gay and bi teens don’t think about protection.Image_11 In fact, gay and bi men between the ages of 13 and 29 make up 2/3s of new HIV infections. Gay and bi girls are also more likely to contract an STD or even become pregnant than straight girls. This is because they are not taught how to protect themselves during sex. Even I didn’t know exactly how protection would work until I was in college and discovered what a dental dam was.

Another consequence of not having LGBTQ+ inclusive sex ed is the increase in bullying. Because the LGBTQ+ youth are excluded from most sex ed lessons, and in some criminalized, they are less accepted by their peers. Gay, bi, and trans teens are victims to more violence and bullying than straight kids.

In 2016, Canada introduced a bill that would require sex ed to be LGBTQ+ inclusive. This would start with third graders being taught about sexual orientation and gender identity and accepting differences. In the US, a bill has been introduced that would require not only medically accurate, but also LGBTQ+ inclusive sex ed. This bill is called the Real education for healthy youth act, and you can sign the petition to have is passed at https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/pass-the-real-education-for-healthy-youth-act.

LGBTQ+ inclusive sex ed would help keep gay, bi and trans teens from contracting STDs, as well as decrease bullying. You can help us make that happen by signing the petition. And, if you have any more questions about sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex education you can visit plannedparenthood.org. You can also talk to your teachers about adding sexual identity and gender orientation to the curriculum.

 

Do we Really Need Sex Education?

By: Cassandra Hedrick

 

Do we Really Need Sex Education?

Yes.

Sex ed is probably the most awkward class a kid can take, but that doesn’t mean it is any less necessary. Statistics have shown that states with comprehensive sex education have lower rates of teen pregnancy and STDs. Image_9Even so, only 22 states require sex education and only 19 of them require it to be medically accurate. This means many states allow abstinence only sex education, meaning they only teach not to have kids not to have sex. Let’s compare the state with the highest teen pregnancy rate, Arkansas, to the state with the lowest teen pregnancy rate, Massachusetts.

Massachusetts only has 9.4 births for 1,000 teen girls in the state, while Arkansas has 38 births per 1,000 teen girls. I know neither of those numbers seem like a lot, so let’s put it in perspective. The average high school in Arkansas only has 999 students.

Neither of these states require sex ed in every school, and let the school districts decide for themselves if they want to teach it. However, in 2010, Arkansas got $619,862 in federal funds for abstinence only programs, while Massachusetts declined them. Arkansas has policies that require Image_10school districts that teach sex ed to stress that the only way to prevent pregnancy and STDs is to not have sex until marriage. They are also not required to teach about condoms or birth control and don’t allow federal funds to go to giving birth control or condoms to students.

Massachusetts does not require sex ed either, but in 2015 they passed a law that required school districts that do teach sex ed to have medically accurate and age appropriate lessons. This means they require the curriculum to cover STDs and contraceptives. These efforts help prevent teen pregnancy and lower STD rates throughout the state.

Here in Florida, sex education is required in all schools, but the topics covered can be decided by the school districts. The only requirement is that Abstinence must be taught as the only way to prevent 100% prevent pregnancy and STDs. Teaching about STDs or contraceptive is optional. Because of this Florida about 21 births for every 1,000 teen girls.

In general, states who stay away from abstinence only education and focus on teaching safe sex have less teen pregnancies and STD rates. Abstinence only education simply doesn’t work because, in my experience, the moment you tell a teen not to do something, they are going to do it, especially when their hormones get involved. Therefore, it is better to teach them to have safe sex rather than just say “don’t do it.” If you want to learn more about sex education, safe sex, and contraceptives you can visit plannedparenthood.org or call their main center to talk to someone.

Feminism is for Everyone: How the Patriarchy Hurts Men Too

By: Jillian James

 

Recently millions of women gathered all across the world to advocate for feminism and their rights. The faces of women of all races and backgrounds were on TV screens all across the country as they raised their voices and spoke out, sending a message to the nation.

However, it is important to remember that women’s rights are human rights. While women are the face of feminism, a patriarchal, hyper-masculine society actually hurts both women and men for multiple reasons.

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BREAKING NEWS: PEOPLE CONTAIN MULTITUDES

Every single human being, regardless of sex or gender, feels a wide variety of emotions. Societies that perceive men as being weak or devalued because of their expressions of emotion are creating unhealthy environments and are actually emotionally stunting. Sayings like “boys don’t cry” and “be a man” are toxic. In order to have emotional well-being, every person should feel safe and secure in expressing their emotions, and societies and cultures should applaud and encourage emotional expression instead of making it be perceived as a sign of weakness.

RELATIONSHIPS 101: COMMUNICATION IS KEY

In order to be in a healthy and happy relationship, partners must be willing to communicate and be emotionally honest. This can be a struggle in heterosexual relationships because hyper-masculinity can put up emotional walls. If a society puts little to no value on a man’s ability to be emotionally honest and vulnerable then he will struggle to feel comfortable communicating in an intimate relationship.

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WOMEN’S HEALTH: MEN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IT TOO

Men in heterosexual relationships should feel comfortable asking women questions about their health, and women should not feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it with their partner. Being able to have open discussions about periods, birth control, and other topics in a relationship is incredibly important. Having both partners be well-educated and informed on women’s health can make you both feel more comfortable and confident in a relationship.

Living in a patriarchal society is limiting for both genders. There are actions that can be taken in order to actively fight the patriarchy in society. Don’t be afraid to call out anti-feminist or hyper-masculine behavior. Try to educate the men in your life about women’s issues and women’s health and encourage them to express their emotions. Taking steps to de-normalize toxic masculinity will help create a healthier society as a whole. A society that has gender equality is an overall happier place because the boundaries of gender expectations and ideals are gone, and instead people can live their lives freely and become their truest selves.

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Here’s Why You Need To Care About The Pill

By: Nicole Mclaren

 

Women sometimes take things like access to health care for granted. I am here to remind not only myself but my fellow women with the privilege of having access to things like birth image_7control, how important that is for women. That’s not to say that everyone in the US has access to reproductive health care because I do not believe that all of us do. According to Woman Stats Project the US has more restrictions on abortions than most other developed countries, this includes Russia and Vietnam.

It is important for women with access to birth control to understand the benefits of it. This privilege gives us the choice to have a child when and if we are ready to do so and can have health benefits for some women. According to an independent organization Institute of Medicine access to birth control is one of the things that is necessary to providing preventative healthcare for women. Some of the others on that list are breastfeeding supplies and screening for cervical cancer.

Impoverished women are the most at risk for unplanned pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections and other risks. This not only prevents women from participating in the workforce but also keeps them from receiving an education. Women that live in countries where there is an extreme legal or practical restrictions on women’s secondary education there is also less likely to be a national action plan to eliminate gender inequality.

Those of us who are in a place where we have access to affordable birth control and reproductive health care need to take advantage of it and appreciate it. This privilege can be powerful if we use it to improve other women’s ability to access these things that can greatly impact our lives. This could mean having a conversation with someone about the importance of women’s reproductive health care or if it means getting involved with Planned Parenthood or another organization that works to improve access to health care for all women. However you choose to get involved or want that to look like we need to keep the conversation going so that it cannot be silenced.

Sources:

http://www.womanstats.org/maps.html

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/11/why-birth-control-should-be-free.html

http://www.womanstats.org/substatics/ABO-SCALE-1-2016.png

http://www.womanstats.org/substatics/ATC-SCALE-2-2015.jpg

http://www.womanstats.org/substatics/DiscrepancySecondaryEducation2015_11correctstatic.png

Tom Price: Unhealthy choice for leader US Healthcare Services

By: Nicole McLaren

 

In the past two weeks the Trump administration has dominated the news, some of this has been about the nominations he has made for leadership positions in the executive branch. He has nominated Tom Price for Health and Human Services. This nomination could have a direct impact on access to healthcare services and could dis-proportionally affect women and others who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

Tom Price is a congressman for Georgia’s 6th congressional district. During his time in Congress he sponsored bills that attempt to dismantle federal funding for healthcare services and he has spent years attempting to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. There is also speculation that he used his power as a US representative to benefit a health company that he owns stock in. The bill reversed cuts in reimbursements to the company. Since 2012 he has traded about $300,000 worth of shares in almost 40 different health companies. He has directly benefited from the rising cost of health care in the US which poses a problem if he is going to be the leader of Health and Human Services.

He will now be in a place of power to directly influence healthcare in the US if he is confirmed as the head of Health and Human Services. This nomination could have direct impact on the access to affordable healthcare. The ability to access healthcare services including reproductive and preventative healthcare is extremely important. For women to be able to participate in society we must have access to these services so that we have a choice and a say in our futures.

It is also important to think about the impact this will have on women who need access to reproductive healthcare through Planned Parenthood and how funding for Health and Human Services could hurt the ability to access these things. Healthcare is a fundamental right for all people and we have to work to make that a reality.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/02/hhs-nominee-tom-price-bought-stock-then-authored-bill-benefiting-company/97337838/

https://www.congress.gov/member/tom-price/P000591?q={%22search%22:[%22tom+price%22]}&resultIndex=1

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/tom-price-obamacare-234668