Earlier this week, feminist author Jessica Valenti wrote a column in UK’s The Guardian attempting to argue, rather predictably, that tampons should be provided free to women everywhere. As with abortion and birth control, it’s sugar daddy government to the rescue!
While there are a number of things wrong with Valenti’s argument, the least of which is that we can wave a magic wand and suddenly create free tampons for all, the crux of her argument rests on the fallacy that government, funded by taxpayers, should be responsible for providing for our every necessity as women. I find it deeply offensive that anyone should have to provide for my needs other than myself. It’s an insult to my character, work ethic, and independence. This is where the true “war on women” is taking place, suggesting that women are such simpletons that they can’t figure out how to pay for and obtain their own menstrual solutions much less take care of their own wellbeing as a whole. On the upside, now feminists everywhere can stop reducing women’s interests to simply those related to birth control – we also care about menstrual periods!
When you really think about it, government-provided products for women is probably one of the most anti-feminist ideas there is. If the true aim of third-wave feminism was to free women from being tied to the home (a “comfortable concentration camp” per Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique) and liberate them to pursue higher education and break the glass ceiling, then how does encouraging them to be dependent on government to tend to their needs accomplish any of that? Is it not shifting their dependence on their husbands to dependence on the government (also run mostly by men)? Women have been buying their own menstrual products for years but suddenly we need someone else to do it for us.
While it is undeniable that there are women, and men, in the world who are struggling to purchase basic necessities it is poor policy and frankly rather insulting to suggest that the government should therefore provide menstrual solutions to all women, all the time. While Valenti initially frames her argument under the umbrella of “healthcare,” she ends her column by concluding that the backlash to such an idea is due to the lack of empathy. Rather than consider that her idea is just a bad one all around, anyone who could disagree with such a notion must be lacking “an incredible amount of empathy” because “it has something to do with vaginas.”
When it comes to supporting taxpayer-funded government-provided tampons, count me out. I would much rather promote free market ideas and encourage women everywhere to call on their resourcefulness, ability, and character to achieve their financial goals and purchase their tampons themselves. To assert that taxpayer-funded government needs to step in to provide such a basic item as a tampon is to underestimate the ability and potential of women everywhere.