My place of employment is housed in a standard office building. My company provides us many amenities, free of charge, at my workplace. I have access to many flavors of coffee and tea in single serving cups and all the applicable fixings. Free of charge, I can have tissues, napkins, plastic silverware, Styrofoam cups, plastic cups, paper plates, salt & pepper, dish detergent, cold filtered water, candy, toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap and sunscreen. Yet in the women’s bathrooms, you find one of these:
Do they really mean to tell me that we can have the flavored coffee creamer-like substance in our choice of Original, Vanilla, or Hazelnut but I have to pay for a freaking tampon? This is absurd. They should be free! Free at the office, free at the gym. They should be free at the mall and the hospital and everywhere there is a public women’s bathroom. But they aren’t. Sometimes, they aren’t available at all. I once found myself in an airport where the only tampon to be found was kindly given to me by a flight attendant. There were none in the bathrooms, free or paid, and none in the one store/kiosk thing in the terminal. Talk about poor planning.
Of course nobody talks about this because we’re taught we should be embarrassed and ashamed of menstruation. Going up to the male manager of the gym or the male office director and asking them to change their tampon policy is not particularly appealing even to me, and I’m not shy. I just know that through office gossip I would soon be “The Crazy Tampon Lady” and that is less than appealing.
Look, I know we’re all trying to pretend that menstruation doesn’t happen. “Oh what? Not me, no. I never find myself in a situation where I unexpectedly need a feminine hygiene product.” (Let’s not even get into how I feel about that term and all its implications of dirtiness.) But come on, the menstrual cycle is just a part of life- a vital part of life as a matter of fact. We’re talking about a significant percentage of the population here who are being ignored and insulted for what has to be pennies a product.
Don’t you think that if men needed tampons, they would be free?