Toilet paper, soap, water, and hand towels or hand dryers are provided free of charge in public restrooms. So why are women supposed to pay for a tampon or a pad?
Just like peeing and pooping, menstruation is a predictable, routine bodily function that people take care of in public restrooms every single day.
Menstrual products are basic public health supplies that allow people to maintain sanitary health standards — just like toilet paper, soap, water, and hand towels or hand dryers.
Access to menstrual products is critical for the full dignity, equality, and participation of women and girls worldwide — in South Africa, for example, poor girls have stayed home from school because they didn’t have access to pads.
Some might object that people would become freeloaders and stop buying menstrual products altogether, and grab large quantities to take home. (Which begs the question of why pads and tampons are unfairly expensive in the first place — here’s looking at you, majority of states with a ‘tampon tax.’) But Americans are innovative, and we’ve figured out how to have toilet paper in pubic restrooms without everyone leaving with several rolls in their bag. The same can be done for menstrual products.
Others might argue that women should pay for cleaning up their own periods. And yet, the routine things men do in public restrooms get basic accommodations. It’s also not possible to argue that men don’t get any special preference in public restrooms — they do, in the form of specialized urinals designed specifically for people who stand while peeing, in addition to toilets.
Are women human? Yes, we are. Is menstruation abnormal? No, it’s not. Public restrooms should offer a free pad to those who need one.
P.S. Free menstrual products in ALL the restrooms, women’s, men’s, and gender neutral! While failing to provide basic menstrual supplies in public restrooms is an A-1 classic example of a society stacked against women who are thought to have extraordinary bodily functions they must personally control and fund (hi, abortion and maternity coverage opponents!), the ability to pee and period in peace is critical for the ability of all people to participate in public life. That includes transgender and gender non-conforming people with periods. xoxo