You Deserve Free Tampons in Public Restrooms

BlogHer Original Post

It's whispered from woman to woman between bathroom stalls, a slight tinge of oh shit in the undertone: Do you have a tampon? From the New Jersey Turnpike to a Chili's in Sacramento, thousands of women find themselves daily with their panties around their ankles, cursing the fact that they're miles from their tampon stash.

Sure, we can toss around blame and say that all women should schlep their period accoutrements all month long in case they start bleeding, or we can cut women a break and agree that most people only have a general sense of when their period is set to begin. 

Hence why we need Free the Tampon.

All public bathrooms in America "promise" you three things: toilet paper, soap, and some method of drying your hands whether that be an air dryer or paper towels. (If you've spent enough time in a wide range of American bathroom locations, I think you get why we need "promise" in quotation marks.)  Some provide seat covers, and some get super fancy and provide sharps disposal.  Most provide a receptacle for collecting used tampons.  But how many places tell women they care about their vaginas by giving them a tampon for free?

According to Free the Tampons, "79% of U.S. women ages 18 and older have ever started their period unexpectedly in public without the supplies they needed."  The mission of the group is simple: get places to provide tampons along with that toilet paper and soap as a supply that every bathroom needs.

How you can help is also simple: they have a hashtag you can use to thank or shame public bathrooms that provide or don't provide free tampons (#freethetamponsyea or #freethetamponsnay).  They have cute graphics you can add to your Facebook page in order to spread the message.  And you can follow their Twitter account @FreeTheTampons.

So... what do you think?  Should public bathrooms provide tampons (and let's shoot for the moon: sanitary pads too!) in the same way that they provide toilet paper or soap?


Image: Eric E. Castro via Flickr

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.


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