Yesterday, a friend of mine shared a video in our groupchat entitled “How Do Homeless Women Cope With Their Periods?” In this video, it is very prominent how homeless women suffer tremendously when it comes to that time of the month, resulting in them having to use a range of items from white napkins from fast food chains to plastic bags just to deal with the bleeding aspect of their menstrual cycle. As my friends and I continued to talk, we soon took into account and truly realized how much periods are viewed as a privilege in American society.
Periods are a natural, mostly monthly, occurrence for women. From the pain that cramps bring, to the mood swings, the cravings, and the surrounding taboo that somehow still exists about them, periods are a horrendous time. Not to mention, the amount of money women spend monthly, let alone yearly, just to deal with their periods. Personally, for me, I spend about $45 every month, resulting in about $540 a year. I’ve been having periods for nine years now, so that’s more or less $4,860 just on my period alone. This is just how much I spend, but imagine someone who has to also pay for birth control to help cope with their cramps or to help with the pain of their uterine or ovarian disorders?
Materials used and ultimately needed for periods should and NEED to be free. A woman does not choose to have a period, so why must she pay or scrape up money just to cope with something she essentially does not even want? Period products are ridiculously expensive when you think about it because even if I stock up on packs of pads and tampons, I’m most likely still going to have to buy another pack or two the next month. Women have to pay 25¢ for a pad or tampon in a public bathroom if there’s even a dispensary available. I, along with many other women, have found ourselves in that classic predicament where our periods come unexpectedly. If my period comes unexpectedly and I need a pad ASAP, the last thing I’m going to want to do is rush in and out of stores looking for a dispensary to pay for one or two small pads that won’t even last me thirty minutes.
In America, it’s very obvious that healthcare and women’s reproductive rights are a massive subject of debate, which they should not be. However, how is it that white males continue to dictate what a woman can and cannot do with their body? Why is it that these men insist on making it a living hell for women to have the proper and affordable sources for something that happens to them naturally? Why is it that men choose to be desensitized towards periods, using it as an insult for when a woman is genuinely upset or merely disagrees with him? Why and how have these men made having a period a privilege instead of the right it should be?