Free the Tampons!

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?

10 thoughts on “Free the Tampons!

  1. I am inclined to agree with you! Its extremely frustrating that women’s bodies, and their bodily functions are still considered “deviant” in our androcentric society. If men menstruated then there would be tampon dispensers everywhere, free of charge, just like there is toilet paper, hand soap etc. but because the female menstruation cycle is treated like an illness, a nasty and unnatural thing, tampons and pads are a privilege we have to pay for. This is a well written blog! Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  2. We don’t even have machines where i work; we get almost all the amenities you mentioned, but nary a tampon or pad in sight. I always thought it was weird.

  3. there was a short story i read once called ‘ If men menstruated’ by Gloria Stienem (i think)…. they turned it into a sport….ha ha….still it’d disgusting that we have to pay such extortionate prices for something we NEED….i wonder if we all just started to bleed freely on their office chairs whnether something would change……

  4. ‘I just know that through office gossip I would soon be “The Crazy Tampon Lady” and that is less than appealing.’

    Oh god do I know this feeling. At my old workplace I observed for three months as the tampon machine remained completely empty (I’d used it once and lost my money). I finally complained and got THAT look. Nothing happened. So eventually I scrawled a note on it.

    Would my workplace have been fine with toilets with no toilet paper? No? Then this was unacceptable. And if they didn’t care about employees, they should have at least considered the female bosses, partners and clients who regularly visited. And (shudder) menstruated.

  5. Have you ever tried more sustainable and healthy menstrual products? With sustainable cloth pads and a Diva Cup, you would never be in this predicament. I say, take your products into your own hands and opt for the healthier option. :)

  6. I have to say that I never have worked for a company that charged for tampons/pads…I feel very privileged. I work in high tech, in the engineering building even so you would think that they would not provide if only because they are ignorant techies…but every bathroom I have ever been in as a female techie has had free ‘feminine supplies’ choices even :-). The other day I encountered a woman facing a machine that had no pads, just tampons and I had to run to the next floor to get one for her, but that is seriously the biggest ‘hardship’ I’ve seen. I called facilities right after to tell them about the ‘problem’ and ran into them reloading the machine a couple of hours later. Was surprised it wasn’t soon.
    Not sure that the lesson here is…work in high tech?

  7. I’ll agree that restrooms should have tampons machines- full tampon machines at that. I am going to disagree about them being free. NOTHING IS FREE. All that coffee stuff and silverware wasn’t free- you are being paid less because your company is spending a portion of its profits on those.

    This may be a crazy idea but why don’t you carry tampons with you? Every bag I take out of my house has 2 tampons minimum in it. My purse has a baggie in it dedicated to just menstrual products (panty liners, tampons, occasionally some wipes). They are like 4″x1″! It is not impossible or cumbersome to carry a couple. You shouldn’t expect the world to have everything you need at all times- there is some value to self-sufficiency.

  8. I’d settle for a pay machine. My company took them out during a remodel. Now, if you find yourself in need, you go door to door, floor to floor asking to borrow and it all feels so sneaky – like your trying to find someone to sell you drugs! I liked the machines for discretion. Didn’t have carry anything but a quarter in with you. No worries about being trapped in the hall, tampon in hand, by a colleague with questions about work.

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