I was appalled to read that my local MP (I didn’t vote for him) voted against cutting the so called ‘Tampon Tax’. So I wrote him a letter.
I am a constituent of yours in Newbury. I am writing to express my utmost disappointment at finding you were one of the MPs who voted against cutting the ‘Tampon Tax’. I am also writing to enquire as to your reasoning behind this?
Tampons are currently considered to be a luxury item. As a man who will not ever experience a period, I can understand that you may not grasp the intricacies of using a tampon or other sanitary products. However, as an educated man you must surely have some insight as to why they are used, and how often.
If you look up ‘luxurious’ in the Oxford English Dictionary you will find 3 definitions:
- A state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense.
- An inessential, desirable item which is expensive or difficult to obtain: luxuries like chocolate, scent, and fizzy wine
- A pleasure obtained only rarely.
Here, with these definitions, you see the problem with the tax on tampons.
- Whilst great strides in tampon technology have been made since the Egyptians used papyrus and the Romans used wool, believe me when I say that using tampons etc. cannot be described as putting you in a state of ‘great comfort’. Further, despite the adverts on TV that portray women as footloose and fancy-free when using the latest Tampax product, there is nothing elegant about using a tampon. Though these items are not a ‘great expense’ individually, having to buy a few boxes once a month for an average of 40 years gets expensive.
To put this into perspective I quote Natasha Presky from the Independent, ‘The average woman buys, uses and throws away 11,000 tampons during her lifetime. In my local Tesco, a box of 20 regular Tampax costs £3.14. This means that someone earning minimum wage must work approximately 38 full working days to pay for her lifetime’s supply.’
And this doesn’t even account for the fact that many women have to use tampons alongside sanitary towels.
- Again, these items are essential. While many women think tampons in particular are desirable over alternative products such as sanitary towels or a moon cup, I don’t think that we can call any of these products desirable in the same way I desire a Ferarri in my driveway.
These items are not individually expensive or difficult to obtain, however over time the cost really does add up.
- Everyone should know that periods happen approximately once a month for most women. They are most certainly not a pleasure, and neither is using tampons etc. for the duration.
I don’t know how often you eat Jaffa Cakes on your houseboat whilst playing bingo, but I find it hard to swallow when the aforementioned items and activities are considered NOT to be a luxury, and we’re told it’s ‘hard to change’ VAT on sanitary products. I also find it insulting that MPs voting against the tax cut such as you have essentially decided necessary sanitary products should still be classed as a taxable luxury. It adds insult to injury when you see that the majority of MPs voting against this motion don’t even have to use sanitary products. As Paula Sherriff so bluntly put it ‘…VAT on tampons is the Vagina Added Tax. A tax on women, pure and simple.’
So I ask you again, Mr Benyon, what was the reasoning behind your vote?
I have taken the time to email you regarding a matter that I feel very strongly about. I am therefore requesting a response from you personally, rather than a stock response or one written by your assistant Susan Ley.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Dr Emma Cooper
Let’s see what/if he replies!