Crimson Tide: A Period Piece
March 13, 2017 8:50 AM   Subscribe

On March 18, Melbourne based feminist book club turned water ballet group The Clams are putting on a special performance called Crimson Tide: A Period Piece. The show will feature tampon-shaped pool floats and a 15 metre piece of red fabric. All proceeds will go to Share The Dignity, an Australian nonprofit that distributes menstrual supplies to homeless and vulnerable women and has protested the 10% luxury tax charged on menstrual products in Australia. All funds raised will be matched by Tsuno, a social enterprise that makes sustainable bamboo-based pads. As the Clamstagram says, "Tampons (pads, mooncups ...) are a RIGHT, not a privilege. Period."
posted by hurdy gurdy girl (17 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Mr. kinnakeet is recovering from surgery which has left him a bit leaky, and he recently whined about having to manage wayward body fluids with pads, saying that after two weeks he just could not take any more. At this I shot him a look. "Okay! Now imagine that you're a 12-year-old girl who has been told that GUESS WHAT you can expect to confront just that issue every single MONTH for DECADES. Imagine that the fluid is blood, and that the whole thing HURTS LIKE A BASTARD." His reaction, as his face dissolved into an expression of horrified understanding, was priceless.

Periods are tough enough by themselves. That women should not have access to safe, affordable sanitary products is shameful and a true expression of embedded societal mysogyny. A luxury tax? Really?

I love what these women are doing. Long live The Clams.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:23 AM on March 13, 2017 [14 favorites]

I know it's a fantasy and would just backfire horribly, but -

I'm just having fun imagining Australian women refusing to go in to work because without their 'non-essential' menstrual products, their only option is spending a week at a home. Hey, if the're non-essential, that must mean that's an acceptable option, right? What, you want that report? Sorrrrrry, can't come in, the Australian government says it's not necessary...
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:30 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

My father caused a minor scandal at Augusta State University in Georgia during a 1997 faculty exhibition where he entered a work titled "Period Piece." This gave me some lovely flashbacks, thanks!
posted by Captaintripps at 10:18 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am slightly disappointed to learn this is not a gender-swapped remake of the 1995 submarine thriller starring Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman.

But only slightly. Christ, I've never menstruated in my life, being male, but even I know that those are not frivolous luxury products!
posted by Naberius at 10:45 AM on March 13, 2017

Have you noticed how the rule of Queen Elizabeth is described in modern texts as a 'period' rather than simply as a monarchy? I think this change of terminology was symptomatic of start of a new era, an elevation of perceived importance denoting the reverence the era that is pervasive in modern western thinking. I propose that when this simple change of wording occurred, it marked the start of the modern age, and I'm quite insistent about this hypothesis.

Yes, we're living in the 'period' period, period.
posted by Eleven at 10:59 AM on March 13, 2017

"Luxury tax" might be a bit misleading. If I'm understanding correctly (and Aussies can chime in), the tax applies to most items, with exceptions for items including:

"most basic food
some education courses, course materials and related excursions or field trips
some medical, health and care services
some medical aids and appliances
some medicines
some childcare services
some religious services and charitable activities
supplies of accommodation and meals to residents of retirement villages by certain operators
cars for disabled people to use, as long as certain requirements are met
water, sewerage and drainage
international transport and related matters
precious metals
sales through duty-free shops
grants of land by government
international mail
sales of businesses as going concerns
some telecommunications supplies
eligible emissions units."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:21 AM on March 13, 2017

Yes, so things that aren't seen as necessary to everyday life are included (luxuries), while things that are (basic food, medical supplies, water) are excluded. Except precious metals and that bottle of rum you bought in a duty free shop are both more necessary than tampons? Huh, must be why my bathroom is stuffed with TP and gold.
posted by hydrobatidae at 11:46 AM on March 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

The tax is definitely defined as being applied to "non-essential items" (which are then, by definition, a luxury). I think most women who menstruate would not classify tampons, pads, etc. as non-essential. They are pretty darned essential to not having blood all over your clothes for several days every month.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:01 PM on March 13, 2017 [9 favorites]

In other news, the source of a persistent buzzing sound heard by many Tuscaloosa, Alabama residents has been traced to the gravesite of former coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant.
posted by TwoToneRow at 12:14 PM on March 13, 2017

One of The Clams is my niece. I'm very proud!
posted by drnick at 1:13 PM on March 13, 2017 [9 favorites]

The tax is definitely defined as being applied to "non-essential items" (which are then, by definition, a luxury).

No, that's not quite right. It's a Goods and Services tax. It's applies to almost everything, not luxuries.

Certain items are exempt because of a grab bag of lobbying initiatives, and also because back in the day there was significant concern about flat taxes being regressive and unduly impacting poorer demographics. So, for example, fresh vegetables are GST exempt, but anything even slightly processed is not because IIRC the government wanted to encourage healthy eating.

The key context missing here is that 'essentials' such as condoms and sunscreen are exempt from the tax. But period products are not, even though they are actually essential. Presumably, the overwhelmingly male legislature never gave it a second thought.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:53 PM on March 13, 2017 [10 favorites]

I am slightly disappointed to learn this is not a gender-swapped remake of the 1995 submarine thriller starring Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman.

I for one am relieved that the time I was in high school doesn't qualify as "period" for dramatic purposes yet.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:03 PM on March 13, 2017

Nick Saban is gonna be pissed.

The little shit.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 8:18 PM on March 13, 2017

When the GST was originally going to be implemented it was supposed to be truly universal. I think the zero-rated exceptions came about because the Libs needed the support of minor parties to get it through the Senate. So if you look at the exceptions, each one is there because some minority politician went to bat for it, apparently mostly out of a sanctimonious feeling that people need to be encouraged to buy fresh vegetables and bread, but hedonists get what they deserve if they want to (e.g.) eat cheese and crackers. The thing is, most of what people buy is more or less essential. If you opened the category of GST-free items
to include all necessities you wouldn't have a GST at all. The argument for exempting tampons isn't that they're essential, but that the tax exacerbates the disparate burden that menstruation imposes on many people.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:14 AM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


This needs to be fixed.
posted by iffthen at 7:23 AM on March 14, 2017

Huh, I was about to comment that Canada has a similar "tampon tax" but luckily googled to confirm before making a fool out of myself and hey, apparently we got rid of ours two years ago! Don't know how I never heard about that. So... your move, Australia.
posted by randomnity at 8:07 AM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, I was pretty surprised when we got rid of the tampon tax, randomnity. I'm slightly peeved it was under the Harper government though. I mean really!

Joe in Australia, that was a really clear explanation. You're right, much of what's taxed under (any country's) GST is essential, but this tax on pads and tampons is, in essence, an unfair gender tax.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:20 PM on March 15, 2017

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