For Companies, Menstrual Health Costs Less Than A Coffee
Nancy Kramer is an entrepreneur, having spearheaded two successful organizations. The first, a digital marketing agency named Resource/Ammirati, has launched a number of viral campaigns since its inception in 1981. The second, a nationwide organization called Free The Tampons, has pushed towards greater and cheaper access to women’s hygiene products in the workplace.
In a sense, the need for the second was born of the creation of the first. She recalled a meeting in Silicon Valley where contract negotiations were interrupted by an early period. She had to run to the bathroom, and, with no backups in sight, make do with toilet paper. In her interview with Fast Company, she describes the event as an “emotional ordeal,” which must be Silicon Valley slang for “a fucking nightmare.” But, to women across professions, cultures, and generations, such an event is unremarkable. A study by Free The Tampons found that 86 percent of women had gotten their period unexpectedly in public without the supplies they need.
As a businesswoman, Kramer has heard the classic arguments against accommodation of women’s health. Generally, it’s framed as an economic issue. “Tampons are expensive! Why should business owners’ shoulder the blame of womanhood?” is the excuse she most often hears from the misogynistic economist. But Kramer went ahead and crunched the numbers, and determined that providing tampons would end up costing a company around $4.67 per person a year. That’s the price of a 20 oz. cold brew—before you tip your barista. While “luxury” items such as tampons and pads are highly taxed and, I’m told, generally miserable to stock up on, wholesale purchases give companies a cheap way to create a work environment that openly acknowledges gender differences we thought we’d already learned in elementary health class. We wouldn’t imagine an office building that lacked a toilet; why should we settle for a bathroom without access to a process as natural as menstruation?
Like a prolonged close-up of Michael Cera‘s facial mannerisms, staying silent about menstruation creates physical discomfort. In the last year, we’ve seen the outrage that Australia’s punitive “tampon tax” has incited. We’ve seen a bold, MTA-wide ad campaign from Thinx, after they were controversially rejected by officials for daring to speak freely about the dreaded crimson tide. We’ve seen a number of states, including NYC, push back against discriminative women’s taxes. We’ve even seen a presidential candidate—guess which one—accuse a female reporter of bias because of the “blood coming out of her…wherever.”
And yet here we stand, cramped in a country that refuses to acknowledge women’s natural bodily functions.
Cover image via Emmanuelle Wrightson.
Stay tuned to Milk for more on women’s rights.