Menstruation. Something that women must work around their whole lives, all the while—for the most part—keeping it secret from their peers around them. If talking about feminine sanitary goods makes you uncomfortable, allow me a proposition to keep the discussion out of mind for the time being: make these goods free and available for students on campus.
A little over two-thirds of the PLNU population is women of childbearing age. It’s safe to assume that around that many will need a sanitary napkin at some point during any given week. Even with best precautionary efforts, human error will almost always necessitate a time where someone in need of a feminine product will not have immediate access to one.
Most bathrooms on the main campus are equipped with dispensers that provide feminine products for a quarter, but let’s face it—students won’t always have cash on them or access to change for it if they do.
California Governor Jerry Brown recently vetoed a bill that would enable feminine products to bypass the “luxury tax,” meaning that women already must pay more for necessities to a natural cycle of their own bodies. No matter where you turn or how you spin the story, periods are expensive and in some cases, students aren’t always able to afford to have one.
There’s a reason that liners and tampons are some of the most requested items in homeless shelters and food banks: the annual cost of them (which can’t be safely reused or trusted as off-brand) can be unattainable for working-class women, let alone students. According to some studies, this can average anywhere from $30 to $60 annually on sanitary products alone—not counting painkillers or heavier protection for women with disabilities and post-partum.
Luckily, the PLNU Wellness Center offers a small range of painkillers for free at the front desk. Unluckily, they don’t offer free menstrual products. This is a constant reminder of the fact that women must not only constantly pay for necessities, but will most likely have to ask around in the hopes that someone will have it during a time of need.
Establishing the fact that the feminine cycle is natural is not enough. Women consistently traverse through college and careers with it as if it’s no big deal; but when it becomes a big enough deal to take notice, they should be able to grab something and get right back to work with the rest of the crowd.
And if the community doesn’t want the talk of menstruation meddling with their modern-day affairs, make it easy on us and invest in the wellness of the majority of its own community. Allow women free products the same way the rest of the PLNU is allowed free Tylenol.
By: Arielle Kaimana Taramasco, Senior Multimedia Journalism major