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Maine GOP Rep. Thinks Menstrual Products Are Luxuries, Has Never Met a Human Woman

Will someone please explain periods to old white men?!

blood drop emoji period

Hey Ladies! You know what I like to do after a long day at the office? I get home, unwind, put on some cozy PJs, and shower myself in menstrual pads and tampons. So much luxury! So much rough cotton! Sometimes I’ll just fill my bath tub with sanitary products and RELAX.

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Is that what men think we do with menstrual products? Do they think that women everywhere, upon unwrapping a tampon in a bathroom, sigh and say, “At last, a moment for me!” I’m asking because men (specifically elected GOP politicians) can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that menstrual products are a hygienic and health necessity.

Most recently, the topic came up in the Maine legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, during a hearing for bill LD 628, which would ensure comprehensive access to menstrual products for detainees in the state’s correctional and detention facilities. While incarcerated people currently have access to menstrual supplies, they often come in limited numbers and are of low quality.

Whitney Parrish, director of policy and program for the Maine Women’s Lobby, said during the hearing,

“Imagine you’re a person who has their period inside of a correctional facility … You’re given a limited supply of menstrual products per month, often of low quality due to cost saving, and when you run out, you’re out … You may have no money to go to commissary, and if you do, you may have to weigh that purchase against other necessities, like making phone calls to your children or attorney. You are forced to make the impossible decision of constructing your own menstrual products, using anything from clothing or notebook paper in place of a tampon.”

And considering that these products are, again, a matter of health and hygiene, people should be able to access them freely, as needed, but one man sees through the machinations of Big Menstruation: Republican state Rep. Richard Pickett of Dixfield. Pickett said of the bill, “Quite frankly, and I don’t mean this in any disrespect, the jail system and the correctional system was never meant to be a country club … They have a right to have these and they have them. If that wasn’t the case, then I would be supporting the motion, but they do.”

Ah yes, prison is EXACTLY like a country club, where the Arnold Palmers are cold, the tennis pros are hunky, and it’s raining tampons day and night. The way that men like Pickett talk about menstruation leads me to believe he A) never took a middle school health class and B) has never lived with a menstruating person.

It’s not like having a period is an elective, like a pottery class or something. We don’t get to opt out of menstruation. Why is that so difficult for the Picketts of the world to wrap their heads around? Luckily, the committee voted 6-4 on the bill, with all four no votes coming from Republicans.

Menstrual justice is slowly but surely making its way through the federal and state government thanks to committed female activists. The Federal Bureau of Prisons passed a rule giving free pads and tampons to prisoners in 2017, and several states like Arizona, Maryland, Virginia and Nebraska have introduced similar legislation.

New York City passed similar legislation, to provide free menstrual products in public schools, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities. There is once case in which it seems that these products are luxury items: taxes. Only 12 states don’t tax the sale of menstrual products or diapers, both costs that disproportionately affect women.

As usual, there’s only one solution to this problem: vote these ignorant old men out and fill the government with people who menstruate.

(via The Maine Beacon, image:

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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