A Politician In America Thinks Giving Free Access To Menstrual Products Will Turn Prisons Into A ‘Country Club’

Dear politicians: please stop calling tampons a luxury


by Sofia Tindall |

Why does everyone (read: middle-class male politicians) keep talking about periods as if they're a luxury? The latest person to baffle us by positioning sanitary towels as premium self-care-swag is Richard Pickett, a Maine Republican Party rep in the US, who, last week, said that if incarcerated women received free tampons it would turn jail into a 'country club'.

'Quite frankly, and I don't mean this in any disrespect, the jail system and the correctional system was never meant to be a country club,' Pickett said, according to a reporter.

His comments referenced a new bill in Maine, which has called for prisons to give unrestricted access to free sanitary products, free of charge, and to allow women as many products as they need at a time. While a policy currently exists to provide sanitary products for women in federal prisons, there is no similar policy for state and county jails in the US, where the majority of people are incarcerated.

Jails in Maine currently provide access to menstrual products, according to Teen Vogue, but they're not freely available and have to be requested or bought by inmates. As we know, women's bodies varies and so do their periods, so what may be sufficient for one women may not be for another. Added to that, the economic circumstances of some women in prison may mean that they are unable to purchase menstrual products when they need them.

We have questions: what kind of country club is Richard Pickett attending? For one, where is this mythical member club where women are discreetly receiving a wrapped tampon on the saucer next to their after-dinner coffee instead of a chocolate mint? If sanitary pads are so luxurious, why have we never seen them on the shelves at Space NK? Naturally, Twitter also had a few things to say:

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Disappointingly, Pickett's comments prove that in spite of years of campaigning for women to have easier and cheaper access to period products, more widespread recognition for the problems related to period stigma and 'period poverty' (in the UK 'tampon tax' means sanitary products have a premium tax of 5-20%), that tampons and sanitary products are still being misnomered as a 'luxury'.

Regardless of whether women are behind bars or not (in the US there are an estimated 212,000 incarcerated women) the fact remains that many of them will be having periods, and it's chronically unhelpful when senior political figures persist to claim that access to menstrual products is a privilege. It goes without saying Richard Pickett, but the majority of us would take hanging out in a country club over having a period any day of the month - and there's absolutely no similarity in the experience.

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