This was intended to be a post about Tampon Tax - I did a lot of research and I found all my statistics, and yet somewhere within the mass of columns that I read about people's opinions; I found this one by Lucy Mangan. Although she was arguing the opposite of my point, I could see the merit in the points that she presented, I respected her for going against the grain and standing for something so many other women were rallying against. That is, until I got to the bottom, wherein Mangan claims that, although all her well presented points were true and how she felt, the real reason she didn't put her name to the petition to lose the so-called "tampon tax" was;
"I didn't want to put my name to something so... Vulgar. So... Female. Even, in some deep, dark, shameful way so... Feminist. I am so... Stupid. Or Backward."
Here's the thing - I get not wanting to be (and I quote Mangan again here), "tagged as one of those female columnists who only writes about periods 'n' that", I get choosing to keep your period private and to yourself; however, taking to internet to made well informed points to then only add shame, even in a light-hearted, self-accepted sort of way, seems completely the wrong way to go about it. In the efforts of fairness - I will bring in Mangan's arguments below, as they manage to fit in similarly around mine and will present two sides of a very difficult argument.
The Argument - Tax on sanitary items has already been cut to 5%
I am not denying the success that people campaigning have been granted as the tax was cut to 5% in 2001 - however, since then we have allowed same sex marriages in the UK, Ireland, America and a number of other countries; we have evolved as an entire world. What was fine over ten years ago may no longer fit with the current society and, furthermore - lower tax rates aren't the same as no tax rate at all.
The Argument - Is now really the time for this tax cut?
Britain is in a bad way, no doubt about it - and the rest of the world isn't faring much better - however, that doesn't take away from the fact that this is still an issue. It's okay to protest home grown issues when bigger things are happening, it's okay to support this and still support many other tax breaks that need to happen, support cuts that need to be reversed - it doesn't have to be the time for one or another. Mangan is right in saying that we aren't in the perfect world that "tampons are essentials" exists in, however, I can't help but think that if everybody takes that attitude and runs with it - we'll never make that world at all.
The Argument - I recoil from any proposal that tax is unfair
This argument is an interesting one and one that suggests that we all cross-subsidise each other - and that's true. I'm not saying that tax is unfair - it provides us a solid, accessible school system for all children in our country, and an NHS system that is free at the point of need; however, I do think that some taxes are unfair - I don't see why our tampon tax couldn't be replaced with tax on men's razors, crocodile meat or sugared flowers; all things that currently stand completely exempt from tax (subsidised or otherwise).
Now, I'm not crapping on Lucy Mangan's article, nor is this a personal attack on her. I really enjoyed her article - it's informative and well reasoned, it really did make me question and then cement my views and I'd recommend that you take the time to go and read it - however, I can't help but thinking the idea that it's only a little money, it's not the right time and that tax pays for other things is a way to wash away a bigger issue. I'm sorry if it makes people uncomfortable, but I'll spend a quarter of every month for a huge chunk of my life using these products and so I don't mind being one of those females that only talks about period 'n' stuff - because it's time we started to, maybe then this would be the right time to raise the issue.
What do you think about the tampon tax?