The "Tampon Tax": Public Discourse of Policies Concerning Menstrual Taboo

Lea Hunter

Abstract


 The “tampon tax” is a policy in which feminine hygiene products are taxed as “luxury goods” despite the fact that many countries exempt “necessary goods”—such as basic groceries and medical products—from sales tax. In the summer of 2015, the Canadian parliament took steps to exempt feminine hygiene products. Academic literature supports the idea that menstrual taboo, which stigmatizes open discussion of menstruation, has contributed to the global pervasiveness of gendered taxation policies like the tampon tax. is study examines arguments for and against the tampon tax as well as how menstrual taboo plays into the public discourse in formal (e.g., parliamentary debate and news reporting) and informal (e.g. Twitter) platforms through content analysis. e study reveals trends among certain speakers. Politicians were more likely to use degendered and sterile language. Activists are significantly more likely to break taboo by openly discussing menstruation and using explicitly gendered dialogues. Laypeople engage in the conversation by sharing links and expanding the reach of public discourse. Greater understanding of the significance of menstrual taboo in public discourse reveals important insights into how taboos influence public policy. 


Keywords


Tampon Tax; Menstrual Taboo

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