We all know when ‘that time of the month’ is just around the corner. One minute we’re crying over the latest episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and the next we’re biting our partner’s head off for buying the wrong kind of pasta. Fast forward a day or two and good old mother nature rears her bloody head, spoiling our brand new lace thong.

When you think of periods, we’re sure there’s a few words that come to mind. Annoying. Painful. Exhausting. Luxury? No, we didn’t think so. But according to some governments, who slap a tax of up to 27% on our period products, menstruation is just that. A luxury.

This so called ‘tampon tax’ puts sanitary products in the same tax bracket as items including jewellery, beer, wine, and cigarettes.

Menstruation, cramps, PMS, and 5 days of leaking blood from our vaginas, what a luxury right?

As women, we have come to accept that periods are a personal issue that we should deal with and pay for on our own. But, sanitary products are a necessity that half of the population have to buy for half of our lives. We don’t choose to have periods. We don’t book in a week every month for a ‘luxury vacay’. We don’t look forward to cramps or PMS. So why are we being charged extra as if we are?

While there are some EU countries that have worked to remove or reduce the VAT on sanitary products (round of applause for Ireland, Cyprus and the UK), some countries are still charging women a premium.

The problem is this; while most of us are lucky enough to be able to afford our period products each month, luxury tax or not, there are millions of women worldwide who can’t. Whether that’s a single mum who has to choose between tampons or dinner for her kids, or a teenage girl skipping school because she doesn’t want to bleed through her uniform.

The bottom line is that the tampon tax puts women at a disadvantage.

And why should we be put at a disadvantage for having the almighty-life-giving-power-source that is the vagina?

Despite the fact that half of us have to deal with periods once a month for the majority of our lives, they have this secretive stigma around them. For some reason, we don’t talk about our periods, in fact, we actively try to hide the fact that we all have them. Why are we secretly sliding tampons up our coat sleeve when we go to the toilet, or awkwardly worrying what people are thinking if we take our handbag to the loo?

Being open about our periods and making menstruation more visible is the first step in removing this stigma and normalising something that is so. freaking. normal.

The more we shine a light on the fact that half the world is bleeding from our mf vaginas at any given time, the more that politicians are going to realise this isn’t a choice and this isn’t a goddamn luxury.

What can you do to get involved?

Sign a tampon tax petition in your local area, and pledge a donation to the #freeperiods movement on crowdjustice.com. You can also share this blogpost to your socials, and post a photo of your period products haul to insta with the hashtag #tamponsarenotaluxury. But, don’t forget, the easiest way to free the period is to simply get talking about it!

Written by Jade Biggs

Original cover artwork by @thisisaliceskinner