Is it just me, or it is kind of crazy that roughly half the population bleeds out of their vaginas every month and we all just avoid talking about that fact as much as possible?

See, I went to an all-girls high school and a women’s college. We talked about periods all the time. Debating the absorbency of different brands of pads and trying to figure out how likely we were to get toxic shock syndrome if we didn’t change a tampon until dinner were frequent topics of lunch-table chatter.

And now I’m in the “real world,” in mixed company, and it’s OK for a co-worker to talk about how he overextended his elbow over the weekend, but mentioning that I have bad cramps is a water-cooler faux pas.

I’m not sure why there is such stigma about me saying “I have bad cramps today.” My uterus is literally shedding its lining right now, as I am writing this column, and it hurts. I’m actively in pain. If you can mention a migraine in your head, why can’t you mention a migraine in your guts? (“Gut migraine” is the best way I can describe the feeling to the people who don’t have a uterus and its accompanying organs.)

Just because it happens on a relatively predictable basis doesn’t make it any less of a big deal. My student loan payments come around every month too and they aren’t any less painful and inconvenient because of it.

Is it squeamishness about blood and guts? Our cultural obsession with Game of Thrones makes me think that we’re OK with a little gore. Maybe women try to hide their menstruation because men do that annoying thing where they blame our emotions on our bleeding. To which: One: Men should stop doing that and; Two: You’re darn right I’m emotional because of my period – I’ve just ruined my favorite pair of underwear. I think anyone would be upset about that.

And you know what really frosts my cupcakes when it comes to periods? The fact that the state of Maine puts sales tax on pads and tampons. Pads and tampons are not luxury items, they are necessary utilities that prevent us getting blood all over everything. If you think that there is anything luxurious about a tampon, then you have obviously never tried to stick one inside yourself. (Yes. A wad of dry, bleached fiber product that goes inside your body. What fun.)

If there are two things that are certain in life, it’s death and taxes (a third, obviously, is periods). Republicans love cutting taxes. It’s pretty much their favorite thing. We’ve got an election this November, which means that for the next few months, there will be a lot of knocks on a lot of doors as wannabe state representatives and senators ask for your vote. I hereby challenge every single Republican running for the Maine House and the Maine Senate to make repeal of the sales tax on pads and tampons part of their platform. Consider my gauntlet thrown down. Repealing that one sales tax will immediately put money back in the pockets of hundreds of thousands of Maine women – and maybe even some Maine men as well.

(Democrats, feel free to get in on the act too. But since you’re not usually the tax-cutting party, you could go with one of the following: a proposal to dedicate all sales tax revenue from feminine hygiene products to a fund to provide free pads and tampons for low-income women, or massively increase taxes on Viagra to offset the cost of abolishing the sales tax on feminine hygiene products. Erections aren’t a necessity. Safe and hygienic menstruation is.)

And to my readers: I challenge you to ask every candidate who wants your vote whether or not they would support repealing the sales tax on pads and tampons. Ask them how quickly they would bring a bill to the floor if they are elected. And if they are against repealing this particular sales tax, ask them why. (If they don’t want to talk to you about this subject because they are grossed out, are they even old enough to run for office in the first place?)

A final note: The LePage administration touted a $175.8 million dollar budget surplus this year. I think they should take a drop out of that money bucket and donate $5,000 worth of pads and tampons to homeless shelters.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go change my pad for the third time today.


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