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Can’t We All Just Get Along?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Must the sexes always battle against each other? Cooperation is soooooo much better.

The worst part is the psychological terror. Like the other morning, when I groggily grabbed the newspaper from my driveway only to read about legislation introduced in Virginia to create “menstrual equity.” 

Whoa! I do not think that is possible. Or, even if it is actually somehow medically or physically achievable, it still sounds . . . tremendously inadvisable. In a very discomforting sort of way. 

Life — biology — isn’t fair. If there be male privilege, not having a period is the pinnacle: undisputed number one on the list. And I assure you I’m not giving up this most prized advantage without a fight. The 100-Million Man march here we come! 

Still, there must be ways that folks could work together to make things, if not exactly (painfully) fair, at least better. What “reasonably” — let me emphasize that word  — can be done?

Well, a very minor suggestion: As a member of the two-person-coalition junta that governs my home, I’ve always endeavored to be quick, efficient and, most of all, to hide any hint of squeamishness when asked to run to the store to pick up various forms of feminine protection. Like our old 1992 term limits slogan says, It’s something you can do.

The very least, really. But hey, I get it, perhaps we need a more global approach.

Shockingly, the Virginia Menstrual Equity Coalition pushing this new form of fairness in the Virginia General Assembly might actually be doing a good something, too. One of their bills would remove the sales tax from menstrual products. 

How can anyone — Republican or Democrat, man or woman — be against cutting this tax? Regressive levies on stuff people need to survive (i.e. food, medicine and other necessities like this,) are a bit oppressive, and counterproductive. 

And let’s all agree that tampons, sanitary napkins and pads are necessary, healthful items. Not luxuries. There is no plausible interest in taxing women into using these products less, as per sin taxes.

The calls from “feminists” (like me?) are beginning to be answered. Legislators in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois and New York have already ended what activists there dubbed the “tampon tax” or “period penalty.” 

In liberal Washington, D.C., councilmembers also voted to end the sales tax on these products — but with a proviso that the exemption would not go into effect until the council can replace the $3.3 million in sales tax revenue the city would forgo. So far, this element of gender justice has been deemed unaffordable . . . by a council that is 85 percent Democrat and without a single Republican.

On the other hand, in Virginia it is Republicans who have blocked tax relief for several legislative sessions, all the while delineating precisely the same argument as DC Democrats. They ‘cannot make it’ without that money. The estimated cost in reduced revenue (for these Virginia politicians to spend) is $4.4 million or, thought of another way — are you sitting down? — almost nine one-hundred-thousands of one percent of the overall budget (0.000089). 

We need ‘jump the shark’ fiscal restraint like this in Congress.

While the “male-dominated” Virginia House of Delegates is still in GOP hands this session, they hold that majority by one seat only. That’s because last November eleven incumbent Republican males were defeated at the ballot box by female Democratic challengers. And to think it could have been an even dozen: another female Democrat tied an incumbent male Republican in the votes cast, but then lost the subsequent drawing-out-of-a-hat process used in the Old Dominion State to break such rare ties.

With 28 women now represented among the 100 delegates, this is the least male-dominated chamber in state history. The sales tax cut, or exemption, would seem to have a better chance of passage now than before.

Of course, this issue goes well beyond sales tax policy. While the taxes should be removed, they are not exactly draconian. Folks who can afford the product to begin with can probably afford 5.3 percent more. The bigger issue is really about treating women with respect. 

What man in his right mind wants to be on the wrong side of this one?

Not Virginia Delegate Mark Keam. He not only co-sponsored the sales tax exemption bill, he introduced legislation requiring public schools to supply menstrual products in girl’s bathrooms. There may be quibbles over this as an unfunded mandate on schools, as well as opponents wary of subsidizing yet another part of life that people have generally demonstrated they can manage on their own.

But this is a human need that needs to be met.

It becomes a human rights issue, however, when women are incarcerated. “Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) introduced a bill,” the Washington Post reported, “that would require that feminine hygiene products, including sanitary napkins, sanitary pads and tampons, be provided to female inmates without charge.”

Virginia legislators should pass it unanimously.

Google it, or take my word for it: there are far too many horror stories about women being denied basic menstrual products in prisons all across the nation. Thankfully, back in August, the Trump Bureau of Prisons did something about it, issuing a memo to all federal prisons that they will have a sufficient quantity and variety of feminine products and supply them without charge.

Look, this is a no-brainer. Men don’t have periods. Let’s keep it that way. And let’s not do anything to make it any more difficult for women, who do menstruate. 

If this détente between the sexes means that tampons are not taxed and women in schools and prisons have access to free feminine products, I think we should take the deal, guys.

Trust me, I’m not showing up to some protest with no women and thousands of men with junk hanging off their hats.

Told you: the psychological terror is the worst.

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