Period products, including both pads and tampons
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Indiana Politician Reportedly Thinks Tampons Give You Orgasms and This Is Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Ed

Period poverty—along with all other types of poverty—keeps on getting worse as the wealth gap grows, inflation goes up, and wages stay pathetic. So, you’d think it would be time to stop taxing tampons and the other basic sanitary products uterus owners use to keep from free bleeding everywhere as if they were a luxury good, and yet the Indiana state government disagrees—one state senator is allegedly convinced tampons are a luxury good because they induce orgasms in the user.

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This is a truly baffling statement, apparently made by one of the State House Republicans who opposed lifting the luxury item tax from menstrual supplies. Democratic Senator Shelli Yoder—who has been working to end period poverty in her state—let supporters know about the GOP’s bizarre and harmful opinions at an event earlier this week as she talked about her battle to push through this legislation and the opposition she’s faced from her colleagues in the State House.

However, as community activist Clif Marsiglio notes in a follow-up tweet, this isn’t the first time a Republican has made a bizarre statement about AFAB bodies and women’s sexuality, nor is it likely to be the last. From thinking we can turn our menses on and off like a tap to believing the body can “shut all that down” in the case of “legitimate” rape, these people are attempting to legislate on people’s reproductive systems without knowing the first thing about them, to a point where it would be hilarious if the stakes weren’t so high.

It bears mentioning that, as Yoder and several other activists have taken pains to point out, the same legislation session that saw her previous bipartisan-sponsored bill on the matter denied so much as a hearing passed Indiana’s restrictive abortion ban. This rendered the medical procedure completely off limits outside of cases involving serious risk to the life or health of the pregnant person, pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest, and fetal development that is incompatible with life.

What is also worth mentioning is that the list of products that aren’t subject to the luxury tax in Indiana includes lottery tickets, RVs, and candy bars. The ignorance and absolute disregard for the well-being of people who menstruate or are capable of pregnancy in the Indiana legislature is blatantly obvious.

Shelli Yoder isn’t giving up, however. Determined to have this frankly ridiculous tax removed from menstrual products in her state, Yoder has promised she’s going to keep proposing this legislation until it is passed. In the meantime, she is involved with other activists in organizing all sorts of action to try and force her fellows in the State House to listen. Part of this was Period Action Day (P.A.D.), organized by MADVoters Indiana, which was a rally at the State House that Yoder spoke at, as well as the collection of menstrual products for impoverished people.

Another part of the plan is the Period Refund Request action. This protest encourages all Indiana residents who menstruate to participate by saving their receipts any time they buy sanitary products and sending them, along with tax refund request forms, to the state’s tax office. The hope is that this becomes such a nuisance for the tax office to deal with that they will eventually apply pressure on the legislature to lift the tax. The same form of protest was used with great success in getting Texas to remove a similar tax from menstrual products, so organizers have high hopes it will be effective in Indiana, as well.

The whole thing is ridiculous when you think about it. Maybe, when reusable cloth belts were the norm, and disposable sanitary pads and tampons were a hot new thing, it made sense to treat them as luxury items. But those days are long gone, and besides, in a world where lottery tickets aren’t categorized as a luxury, it’s beyond insulting that genuine essentials like pads and tampons are.

This isn’t just a problem in Indiana. In fact, it’s just one of 20 states that tax sanitary products the same way. And, outside of the U.S., there are plenty of other countries that aren’t doing any better. The good news, however, is that almost anywhere there is a ridiculous tax levied on menstrual products, there’s an organization working to change that, and they are more than happy to help you make a nuisance of yourself to your respective government until the matter is resolved. Happy googling, friends.

Also, while we’re at it, maybe introducing some form of mandatory sex education requirements before someone can run for office might be a good idea in the near future. Just a thought.

(featured image: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

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Siobhan Ball
Siobhan Ball (she/her) is a contributing writer covering news, queer stuff, politics and Star Wars. A former historian and archivist, she made her first forays into journalism by writing a number of queer history articles c. 2016 and things spiralled from there. When she's not working she's still writing, with several novels and a book on Irish myth on the go, as well as developing her skills as a jeweller.