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About bloody time: Warwick SU introduces free sanitary products

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The ‘Tampon Tax’ is a term that’s been batted around political platforms for the past year or so. While I do find it extremely amusing to watch politicians struggle to say words like tampon or pads, there is something far more contentious about the so called ‘tax’. Tampons and pads are incredibly expensive, especially when you consider how frequently people with periods have to purchase them and the necessity of their usage.

 
They’re also expensive because of the EU classification of tampons as a ‘luxury’ item, which seems strange because I don’t know anyone who thinks ‘I’ll treat myself to a tampon today’ – it’s not a scented candle or a spa trip.

 
With the new focus on banning this tax and petitions flying around every internet platform available, Warwick SU has joined in the debate. Now students can acquire free sanitary products from the Union by heading to the Welfare and Campaigns Office or filling in an anonymous form online.

I don’t know anyone who thinks ‘I’ll treat myself to a tampon today’ – it’s not a scented candle or a spa trip

Yet one potential flaw is that this system requires Chloe Wynne to be present for you to access any sanitary products. Moreover, the online system is somewhat convoluted and hard to access, however it is a start and it’s a policy the SU seems keen to keep improving. Free products may seem like a small act, yes, but one that will provide huge amounts of support to the thousands of students at Warwick and benefit so many people – including me.

 
Despite having had a period around 12 times a year for the past six years it surprises me every single month and sometimes it decides to show up entirely out of rhythm. In this situation me and fellow period-sufferers have to frantically rummage through our bags for any sanitary product we can find and, if we don’t have one, ask a friend before eventually forking out the £4/£5 to buy some more.

Free products may be a small act, but one that will provide huge amounts of support to the thousands of students

Having free products available in the SU would save me money if I’m ever taken by surprise. Free sanitary products ties in with an effort to normalise periods that is at the forefront of the ‘Tampon Tax’ issue. Half the population of the world will have, does have, did have or is having a period as we speak.

 

It should be seen as normal. Being on my period should not make me subject to jokes or be any cause of embarrassment for me. Being able to walk into the SU and get a free tampon or pad just adds to this normality. It gives people the confidence to admit they are on their period, to feel supported in this admission and to feel that their period should never prevent them doing anything.

It should be seen as normal. Being on my period should not make me subject to jokes or be any cause of embarrassment

However, I’m quite lucky as a cis-woman because no one is overly shocked when they discover that, like most women, I menstruate. I can comfortably say to my friends that I need to buy pads and they won’t be taken aback or surprised and admitting that I do menstruate would not put me in any potential harm.

 
Yet, there are many trans men who have periods who may not be comfortable admitting they do so. They may not be openly trans at university or they may not be openly trans to certain friends. Therefore, a surprise period can be incredibly difficult for them to tackle or deal with, especially if they don’t want to admit that they need to stop off at Rootes Grocery to buy pads. That’s why providing free products allows students to discreetly get sanitary products without any stigma or shame involved.

However, I’m quite lucky as a cis-woman because no one is overly shocked when they discover that I menstruate

This follows attempts by former Warwick Pride President, Sam Parr to install sanitary bins in mens cubicals for trans men. It’s imperative that trans men are given all the facilities offered to women regarding mensturation and it’s a great shame the University of Warwick still has not acted up Parr’s bid for inclusive policies.

 
Whether this new policy has any of the desired effects is still to be shown, but at least the SU is supporting its students and publically accepting that periods are not something to be taxed, mocked, or ignored. Thousands of students at Warwick have them, and sometimes a free pad can just make the whole experience a tiny bit more bearable.

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