Ethics Quiz: Free The Tampon.Com

share-not-equal“Tampons and pads should be treated just like toilet paper — they’re the equivalent,” argues Nancy Kramer. She has started Free the Tampons, a campaign to make feminine products accessible in all restrooms. “Menstruation is a normal bodily function, and it should be treated like that.”

This apparently is a new front in fighting the war on women. It’s one more piece of overhead to be passed on to the public, of course.  Are tampons really like toilet paper? Funny, I thought women used toilet paper too. I also thought public hygiene and health laws made toilet paper mandatory because rest rooms in public places are mandatory, and a rest room without tp isn’t worth much. Hard to cram those rolls into a purse, too.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is it unethical for restrooms not to supply free tampons and pads?

I’m going to make a couple of observations rather than a straight call on this. The observation is that if the idea is to write a law requiring free tampons, I’m doing exactly what a lot of establishments do with toilet paper. I’m using the cheapest, barely adequate product available.

I wonder what free personal product femi-socialists will demand next? Free cosmetics? Hair spray? Midol? What about mouthwash? Ear swabs? Toothbrushes and tooth paste? Isn’t it the government’s job to make oral hygiene more accessible? Isn’t it businesses’ obligation to pay for our individual bodily needs, like birth control?

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Pointer: Advice Goddess Blog

96 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Free The Tampon.Com

      • Actually when I was young and irregular or later hitting menopause I needed far more product occasions than defecations. So the above is off. One size/one schedule doesn’t fit all.

        The products in the vending machines are already of the cheapest kind and not up to the job, making them free wouldn’t help at all. My bigger objection is that little snots would LOVE to deliberately flush them, that was a continuing problem at public places like movie theaters. Vending machines can cover if a woman is early/stress induced and desperate on occasion, but jerks are around year round. No, they should not be free.

  1. Not only are tampons not like toilet paper (they’re not even good for horse bandages, although the pads are – the first time I saw a ranch hand running around with a box of Kotex I couldn’t believe it!) but they are first rate toilet stoppers. Ask any plumber. There is no question but that Tampons MUST Be Contained, never free. By all means, put up dispensers. Just like the ones for condoms in the Men’s Room. Would they give out condoms for nothing? Condoms are just as necessary as tampons. And a change machine in the hallway between the two. Come to think of it, why not bring back restroom attendants? There! You’ve now employed two (or four, on shifts) otherwise unemployable people whose very presence will keep the bathrooms cleaner and toilet paper theft down, who will provide a hot towel (nothing like it!), offer a shoulder to cry on, accept tips, give out tips and make book, corn-row your hair, and sell “necessaries” like tampons and condoms for a small profit: razors, toothbrushes, local maps, breath mints, suntan lotion, Chanel No. 5 or Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio cologne, whatever.

    I doubt the tampons are political in forethought. Ms. Kramer is just doing her bit to earn her share of Warhol’s “15 minutes” ; it doesn’t matter how stupid, crass or worthless the idea is if it makes the splash — in this case, in the toilet (the idea, not the tampon!).

  2. If we all agree to free tampons can we forget about all the other free stuff (college, contraceptives, cell phones, etc.) being demanded? If so, I’ll take the deal.

    OTOH, not having checked the site as I’m on a trip, this rings awfully close to Poe’s law.

  3. I’ve got no problem with a campaign to put some social pressure on businesses to improve their customer service. But before women go making this about “restroom inequality,” I urge women to take a hard look at a few dozen men’s public bathrooms and then think really carefully about whether they want their bathrooms to be “equal” to that. Men’s bathrooms are small, the urinals are not private like the stalls in a woman’s room, and let’s not even talk about cleanliness, or the likelihood that soap, hot water, and towels will all be available, let alone seat covers. I’ve had to pee in a trough full of ice, for God’s sake.

    • Fenway Park, up until the Seventies, had long communal peeing troughs rather than urinals. I made the mistake of going in a mens room there once and never again. It’s amzing what will and revulsion can do: hundreds of games after that, with many beverages imbibed, and somehow i managed never to have the urge to visit those facillities, even if a game went to extra inning.

      The first time I walked into ladies room (I was confused), I was shocked! There was a couch! It was nice! And no trough.

    • “I urge women to take a hard look at a few dozen men’s public bathrooms and then think really carefully about whether they want their bathrooms to be “equal” to that.”

      Rationalization.

      IF there is an Ethically substantiated “duty” to provide tampons in women’s restrooms, it cannot be an argument AGAINST that logic that men’s restrooms on average are nastier and less tidy than women’s restrooms. One is not compelled to solve older problems before moving on to recently identified problems to solve. Though, it ought be a call to understanding by the advocates of the newer problem to see that advocates of older problems indeed have a problem.

      • I was trying to make the point that if there is some kind of duty to provide tampons in women’s restrooms, it almost certainly does not derive from the goal of making women’s restrooms equal to men’s.

  4. Makes one kind of long for the days when people didn’t even bring up things like menstruation and its remedies in polite conversation. Here I am again, smack dab in the middle of the wrong side of history.

    Clearly, this is the kind of change we can all believe in.

  5. The observation is that if the idea is to write a law requiring free tampons, I’m doing exactly what a lot of establishments do with toilet paper. I’m using the cheapest, barely adequate product available.

    Have you ever heard of the phrase “going to spend a penny”?

    It related to the days – within living memory – when you literally had to spend 1d – none of this “new pence” stuff – inserting it into a slot in the door to gain access to the loo. I’m not sure if this custom spread to the USA, but I don’t miss it.

    Toilet paper was not always free. If you see something wrong with providing free sanitary pads, then you’d see nothing wrong with having to unsert a quarter for 5 sheets of loo paper. Though requiring a dollar to unlock the cubical door from the inside as well as the outside might be taking things a bit far, you can always save money and bring your own roll, guys.

    As for me – apart from a 7 month period (pun intentional) I had no need for sanitary pads. I keep some in my purse anyway, as not every woman keeps track accurately of her due date, and gals tend to help each other out here.

    • I’ve had to deal with pay toilets. Either they are make illegal or there was a revolution or something. Everybody need to use the bathroom, and away from home, there are not a lot of options, except for the new paradise in NYC, where you can now piss in the streets for all De Blasio cares. Kids have to go too, of both sexes. The fact is, society doesn’t work real well, or smell very good, if clean, easily accessible public bathrooms weren’t acknowledged as part of the social contract.

      But there’s a hard line there, and beyond lies a slippery slope. This has to do with ideological and gender-based grandstanding and bullying: You’re discriminating against me by not paying for my needs.

      • Yes to last paragraph above.

        As to pay toilets, I’m living in Europe. I’ve come around on pay toilets. They are clean, well lit and there’s an attendant nearby. Half a Euro is the cost. I’m okay with paying for a decent rest room. Frankly, I’m not sure it should be free. A nominal charge for a really clean, functioning restroom is a fair version of the social contract.

        • Attendants DO make a difference. They had them in all the Broadway theaters once, and in most restaurants. And newspaper boys, and street sweepers. And residents and storekeepers who swept their share and more of the sidewalks.

          Oh, and we used to walk twelve miles to school through blinding snowstorms and eat rocks … those were the days . . . .

  6. I would like for every restaurant to keep stocked in its restrooms a dispenser of dental floss. That is, every restaurant that serves anything besides liquid. That includes such restaurants that put fibrous stuff in their liquids, or that supplies such fibrous stuff – like lemon pulp, squeezed into water or tea.

    Of course, we know that nothing is free, not even tampons and toilet paper. So the market, or rather, one person in the market, has spoken her demand. Can we now let the market decide on the tampon supplies in public restrooms, in response to market demand? Oh, no, never. Not in this era.

    Let’s entitle ourselves, shall we, to a handy, on-demand supply of all the nice things that make our modern human lives seem like magical escapes from our messy, stinky, unsanitary, entitled natural bodies.

    If you have ever gone into downtown Washington DC on the 4th of July, as I have done (to watch the fireworks show that usually starts around 9:15 PM), then you ought to know better than not to bring along your own roll(s) of toilet paper. Because there are few humiliations in life more messy than waiting in line for a half-hour or more at one of the hundreds of portable potties, only to lock oneself in one of those stinking, public phone-booth-like contraptions (remember phone booths?), and realize at the moment one’s body commences the irrepressible twitches of waste elimination that THE PREVIOUS USERS HAVE USED UP ALL THE TOILET PAPER.

    To answer the question: It is ethical for restrooms to supply free tampons and pads, but it is not necessarily or universally unethical for them not to. It bloody sure ain’t ethical to obligate every keeper of every restroom to stock every damned nice thing that a user of a restroom might want stocked there.

  7. Well, it is like TP really, but no they should not be free. Unless you are in a nice restaurant where the TP isn’t in a large, hard to steal receptacle, TP can’t be stolen. Tampons can and will be. I can see people now filling up their purse with them. That being said, I always appreciate it when I do see free tampons being offered — usually in higher end hotels and gyms. I also don’t mind paying 25 cents for one, but nicer places do not want a vending machine in their bathrooms.

    • I missed that angle. Hey, I love it when the lobby and meeting room hotels have all sorts of notions and goodies in their bathrooms–and cloth towels, and these things called “combs”, which were also free, but somehow I can’t recall what they are used for now…

  8. Even a woman who is very aware of her body’s signals can be caught off guard on her cycle starting or not have hygiene products with her on occasion. Likewise, we can be out without anything else when needed (diapers, tissues, medicine, phone, etc.) A small sign in a restroom stating feminine products (and dental floss, etc. 😀) are available wouldn’t be costly and would be a customer service plus. No, it’s not unethical not to offer feminine products for free, as they aren’t a necessity for every restroom visit like toilet paper.* And it’s my responsibility to be prepared. However, it sure is nice when the little things are offered.
    *No comment on those who don’t think toilet paper (or hand washing) are a necessity every restroom visit.

  9. Who would have thought this humble subject would have created one of the better discussions on this blog on the role of society versus the individual? Interesting and insightful. (And, I note, refreshingly civil).

    • Actually, I have come to believe that it is always the most unlikely posts that generate the most interesting threads, and when I really think something I write is important and constitutes a genuine contribution to the issue, I am always disappointed. So now I’m going to be disappointed when these kind of posts don’t inspire pithy and extensive commentary. And I am waiting for the inevitable “Why do you waste your time on this trivia when the the poor are starving and the world is burning?” comments.

      • when I really think something I write is important and constitutes a genuine contribution to the issue, I am always disappointed

        You may have given the only excuse for the “Like” button (which, before you get excited, is known as something neither you nor your savvy readers would tolerate) but at least it would satisfy the option of us having to comment “hey, Jack, that was important, contributed to the issue, answered questions I never thought of asking, and gave me new insight or reinforcement on an ethical point” which is what I usually feel after reading your posts.

        I have strong commitments to certain subjects, and little or none to others, but I will not comment on the important (serious) ones unless I have something to contribute. Not only does that contribution not come quickly or easily but after considerable time and effort working it out, I frequently find someone else, like Tex, has got there before me, using ten words to my hundred. I don’t comment on posts concerning subjects in which I have no expertise (though I am gaining some slight knowledge of legalities and business from everyone’s else’s – the Reply section is almost always worthwhile), nor do I get into arguments that are premised solely on faith (having nothing to do with religion) no matter how fact-backed they are.

        About the lighter side: First of all, one doesn’t call out the master chef for every complete, complex and satisfying meal, especially when they come two, three,…six? times a day and often take considerable time to digest after you’ve looked them up in the Larousse Gastronomique.. It’s the times you deliver a boiled hot dog on a paper plate without bun or condiments that’re an irresistable temptation to announce one’s preferences.

        Second, if you didn’t lighten up once in awhile, your readers couldn’t either. Now, pith on, sir, please.

  10. I think you can make an argument that it might be unethical to not provide free pads/tampons in a restroom. Not necessarily just for the woman in question, but for the other people who also have to use the restroom after her. And the people who have to clean the restroom. That has the potential to get very messy very quickly.

    The only hiccup I see is the person who would hoard all of the product, no matter how crappy it is. Maybe a machine similar to the one that prevents you from hoarding all the paper towels. You wave your hand underneath, it dispenses one. After some predetermined amount of time, it will dispense another one. So, it would deter all but the most determined of hoarders, but it does prevent the casual hoarder.

    I hated the pay restrooms when I lived in Europe. I hated having to remember to carry tiny amounts of cash and coin to access the bathroom and to pay the attendant. It was very annoying and inconvenient. The American system of mostly free bathrooms is far superior.

    • Wait! I thought whenever the U.S. isn’t doing things the way the “Rest of the civilized world” is doing them, that means, by definition, that they are right and we’re wrong! Isn’t that the argument Obama makes on gun control, and Bernie makes on nationalized health care, and liberals all over make about the death penalty?

      You mean sometimes, when the US has a better approach and says, “Well, we don’t care what the norm is, we think this way is better,” it isn’t wrong by definition?

      Huh. So, how do we tell when the “The American system…is far superior” and when it’s barbaric and not in line with our overseas betters? I’ll tell you when: when the European way can be illogically and falsely used in debate as a false appeal to authority and progressive ideologues don’t like that aspect of the U>S culture, the majority must be right. But when progressives don’t like the European version of civilization,then the independent, bold USA is a shining beacon for the rest of the world.

      Got it.

          • You made your own comment the Comment of the Day? Of course you would. 🙂 I literally laughed out loud, so thank you for that. I am here to serve.

            Huh. So, how do we tell when the “The American system…is far superior” and when it’s barbaric and not in line with our overseas betters?

            I have lived in (Eastern) Europe for a while, so I know firsthand that not everything they do is better. But I don’t know if you would like my answer to that question. The things we do better tend to be more regulations, like banning smoking indoors and at the workplace. The effects of the ADA make the USA far more easier to navigate around than Europe. Wider sidewalks, curb cuts, elevators/escalators, bigger doorways, etc. USA “socialized” bathrooms are much better than the ones in Europe that you have to pay for. It is the little things sometimes. I still think most Americans would prefer the “big” things that Europe does better like paid maternity leave, healthcare, public transportation, and a more robust social safety net.

            • “I still think most Americans would prefer the “big” things that Europe does better like paid maternity leave, healthcare, public transportation, and a more robust social safety net.

              Hah! Here in Holland, everyone says the Dutch doctors are terrible, the public transport is too expensive now that it’s been privatized (because it was going broke) and everyone’s retirement age has been extended and pensions are being cut and all the subsidies for the arts have been slashed. So all the arts are running out of dough (symphonies, etc.) because no one, no one, does any charitable giving because their taxes are about sixty percent and the government has always paid for everything. And the place is going broke.

              A good friend and former client died of cancer a year or so ago. He was a British and U.S. citizen. He spent his last six months in Texas under the care of U.S. doctors. He could afford to.

              Sure, Americans want all sorts of things for free, but most of the adults in the U.S. realize things aren’t free. They’re sure finding that out over here.

              And by the way, I was chatting with a Dutch guy my age (60s) the other day. Turned out he’s a pretty hard core ‘social democrat’ he said, ‘communist’ I said to him, laughing. He was all over income inequality and praising Thomas Piketty, etc, and this was right after Jack’s reparations proposal, so I asked him, “Okay, what’s your solution to income inequality?” He thought for quite a while and then said, without a hint of irony and more than a little anger: “War.”

              I second Jack’s self-COD nomination. Needless to say. And good catch, Jack.

            • The only point of my barb is the absurdity of the “They do it, so it must be better” argument we hear on the other issues. Reasonable minds may disagree, but the fact that Europe does or doesn’t do something says nothing about which philosophy is “best.” It’s such a dishonest argument, and thanks for giving me a great opportunity.

              • The only point of my barb is the absurdity of the “They do it, so it must be better” argument we hear on the other issues. Reasonable minds may disagree, but the fact that Europe does or doesn’t do something says nothing about which philosophy is “best.”

                I think you are being reductionist, or engaging in a strawman argument. I think the “But Europe does it!” arguments are actually counterarguments to why such-and-such a proposal won’t work here in the US. Like paid maternity leave, where so many people say it would cause the entire economic system to collapse (*hyperbole alert*), I think a reasonable response is to say, “Well, probably not, pretty much every other industrialized nation except us has such a policy, and most of them are doing fine.” Swap in healthcare, paid vacations, etc. as necessary. But I don’t think the argument I>starts with, “Hey, the Europeans are doing it, so we have to do it too!” Instead it’s more ilke, “We have a problem, here are how some other people you are familiar with have solved this problem. We should do it that way.”

                  • Europe also has lower drinking ages.

                    Care to guess why the American drinking age is 21?

                    A strong Puritan streak? An inability of Americans to do things in moderation? A weak public transportation system that makes drunk driving all but inevitable?

                    I personally think the drinking age should be 18 or even lower, and the driving age 21, but I can get contrarian like that sometimes.

                • “But Europe does it!” arguments are actually counterarguments to why such-and-such a proposal won’t work here in the US.

                  That may be how you use it, but that’s not how Obama, Sanders and others have used it—especially Sanders. “It workd in Australia,” so of course it will work here is dishonest and simpleminded—

                  1. That presumes the conditions are the same, which they are not
                  2. It presumes that Americans will have the same assessment of what “works” means
                  3. It assumes trade-offs—like, say, liberty—acceptable abroad are equally so here, and
                  4. Often that country’s syetm does work all that well anyway.

                  • may be how you use it, but that’s not how Obama, Sanders and others have used it—especially Sanders. “It worked in Australia,” so of course it will work here is dishonest and simpleminded

                    I don’t think we are disagreeing. Those are further arguments to the counterargument.

                    It’s usually:
                    1. Perceived problem (no paid maternity leave)
                    2. Proposal (let’s have paid maternity leave!)
                    3. Argument against (women shouldn’t work, it will bankrupt America, people should stop having kids, etc.)
                    4. Address one or more of the arguments- counterargument (it seems to be working fine in the rest of the industrialized world, so it probably won’t be the apocalypse)
                    5. Argument to the counterargument- i.e. your last comment (conditions are not the same, too many trade-offs, the other countries’ systems don’t work all that well anyway, etc)
                    6. Going back and forth between 4 and 5 until a someone is persuaded, or the status quo is maintained. May take minutes, or decades.

                • The world has been toying with socialism for about one hundred years now. This is a fraction of a drop in the bucket of time. As Other Bill comments, the folks in Holland are starting to see that some socialist policies might not be working as well as the population once thought they would or did. Something may appear to “work” (or be working) in the short term, but be unsustainable (or disastrous) over the next one thousand years (or even the next one hundred years). Tossing an example out for our liberal friends, reliance on fossil fuels seems to be working very well, and has for well over a century. This does not mean it is the wave of the future, or that we can safely rely on fossil fuels to supply all of our energy needs into the next millennium. [And, yes, Jack deserves the comment of the day award.]

                • “I think a reasonable response is to say, “Well, probably not, pretty much every other industrialized nation except us has such a policy, and most of them are doing fine.”

                  You forgot to also caveat that “doing fine” was fairly hyperbolic also.

            • All countries can (and should) learn from each other about what works and what doesn’t work. How you think you wrote a Gotcha! comment is beyond me Jack.

              • According to Bernie Sanders, we can learn a great deal from Stalinist Russia. Trump admires Vlad Putin. Our current President seems to think we can learn a great deal from Egypt and Iran and the Castro brothers, and probably Robert Mugabe. Wonderful.

              • I didn’t say it was a gotcha. I said it pointed out the massively self-serving, dishonest, logically fallacious and hypocritical argument like Bernie’s “everyone else has single payer health care, so we’re obviously wrong because we’re out of step.” B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T. What worked in Denmark, what Danes will accept, what Danes want to be, have zero to do with US choices. None. At All. Ever.

                “All countries can (and should) learn from each other about what works and what doesn’t work.”

                Facile, and you know better. This is the fallacy the US has fallen prey to by trying to force democracy in other cultures. It works here. It doesn’t work in Egypt. In Russia, the people have no comfort with democracy. Cross-nation comparisons are of very limited value…what works in one culture not only won’t in another, but also won’t be called “working” even if it has teh same effect.

                I think this is one of the major intellectual weaknesses in the current US Left, with Obama as a prime example. Soccer must be a better game than baseball, because the rest of the world loves it. That’s a strong argument to ideologues, and part of an essentially un-American mindset. We’re wrong because we’re different. No, the US has been spectacularly successful because it has been willing to be different. doesn’t mind being different, and doesn’t think being unique is a shame or a problem.

              • “All countries can (and should) learn from each other about what works and what doesn’t work.”

                That’s not the argument made though.

                The argument made, 99% of the time I’ve ever seen it, boils down to “They do it, so should we!” or “It works for them, so we should do it”

                That is materially different from “We can learn from other countries”.

            • “The things we do better tend to be more regulations”

              Ugh!
              “paid maternity leave, healthcare, public transportation, and a more robust social safety net.”

              In other words, more regulations.

              • Mass (not necessarily government-owned) transportation is a function of population density. The costs of moving one bus or trolley car is mostly fixed, so denser populations mean a larger market of riders, and also higher parking rates (because more people want to park in a smaller area of land), so the relative cost of using single occupancy transportation is higher than in a low density area.

                there are several books ob the economics of mass transport.

                • Yep. Size matters. The Netherlands is the most densely populated country in the world. 19+ million people in a country smaller than Connecticut. And socialism is great. Until you begin to run out of money. Ironically, the Left’s favorite term “sustainability” applies. The problem with socialism is it’s NOT sustainable.

                  And the worth ethic is gone in Holland. Who would you think of as industrious and independent and mercenary and frugal more than the Dutch. Think again. With the introduction of a massive social safety net since the end of WWII, the populace has become very complacent. Maternity leave. That’s child’s play. You can go on stress leave and get full pay for six months. All you need is a note from your doctor. Get fired for not working. Automatic two years’ full pay. Even if you get another job.

                  • The social safety net arose because Dutch industry was destroyed in WWII, and the safety net was established by the Allied military. Civilian bureaucrats took after.

                    Howard Dean pointed out that the single-payer systems in Europe were continuations of the medical care provided by the Allied military to the civilian populations in the wake of WWII.

            • “USA “socialized” bathrooms are much better than the ones in Europe that you have to pay for.

              I think this is a mis-characterization. There aren’t free toilets by mandate. There are free toilets by custom, and quite a few establishments buck custom by indicating you must be a paying customer to use the restrooms.

        • Yup. Maybe even the month, though it can be said of plenty of other things, like the recent popularity of the Constitution, for example.

  11. I am reminded of Monica and Rachel finding the penny machine at a highway rest stop, and “stocking up”.

    Will now bury my head in the sand…

  12. Is it unethical for restrooms not to supply free tampons and pads? If the tampons and pads are (truly) free, it would be unethical not to supply restrooms with them. However, as many of the wise writers here recognize, they are not free. Forcing everyone to pay for a product that will be used by only a fraction of the population is unethical.

  13. This is one of those societal norms things. If they can push the consensus to “it’s bad customer service to not have tampons”, more power to them.

    On some level, I’m vaguely sympathetic to the tampon argument even if it only benefit 1/2 the population, because the gender thing affects me in a different way. About 3/4’s of the places that have a baby changing table at all, don’t have one in the men’s room. I keep track of that- the convenience is large enough to my marital stability (because the diaper changing responsibility has shifted over the years).

    I won’t boycott those places, but I’ll go the other ones on the margin. I imagine the tampon argument could work that way.

    • diaper changing responsibility has shifted over the years

      Excellent point both as an argument (arguably) for unisex bathrooms or for women to get used to daddies diapering in their restrooms as they do in our public libraries, larger theaters and restaurants — albeit in an alcove abutting the entrance to the ladies’ lav and not in sight of the toilets themselves — after decades of seeing startled or some still (briefly) outraged faces, usually turning to smiles and friendly comments unless the woman is a misogynist who assumes all men are predators.

  14. Late in this discussion, so please forgive getting back to the damn tampons.

    Jack wrote: “I wonder what free personal product femi-socialists will demand next? Free cosmetics? Hair spray? Midol? What about mouthwash? Ear swabs? Toothbrushes and tooth paste? Isn’t it the government’s job to make oral hygiene more accessible? Isn’t it businesses’ obligation to pay for our individual bodily needs, like birth control?”

    And pennagain wrote: “Condoms are just as necessary as tampons… sell ‘necessaries’ like tampons and condoms for a small profit: razors, toothbrushes, local maps, breath mints, suntan lotion, Chanel No. 5 or Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio cologne, whatever.”

    No, I don’t think that they should be free. However, I do take exception to equating feminine hygiene products, i.e., tampons and sanitary napkins, which are not optional for women who have not yet gone through menopause or been sterilized, with condoms, cosmetics, breath mints, etc. Seriously? Or was that supposed to be a joke? Yuck, yuck, yuck.

    Women have no choice: women of childbearing age menstruate. And if they don’t do something to protect their clothing, furniture, people’s fragile sensibilities, NO ONE will be happy. So they MUST have tampons and/or pads, which, admittedly, they can provide for themselves. I’m a little cranky about this, even though I HAVE been through The Pause. Menstruation is no fun, guys. Just imagine if YOU had to put up with it for, oh, probably 4-5 decades, which includes all kinds of variations of the TMI variety.

    Don’t tell me that condoms are just as necessary as tampons. Condoms are a choice. Tampons/pads are necessities for women of childbearing age.

    • Those additional items were cited as the progress down the slippery slope. [ The quote: I wonder what free personal product femi-socialists will demand next? Free cosmetics? Hair spray? Midol? What about mouthwash? Ear swabs? Toothbrushes and tooth paste? ] No, they aren’t the equivalent of breath mints. But neither is toilet paper the equivalent of tampons, as Kramer self-righteously claimed. There’s a hard line there, and once you cross it, I don’t think any other lines will hold either.

      • Yes, of course, I know that. But the need for toilet paper and the need for tampons are more related, as they ARE true immediate necessities in a civilized society. Even toothbrushes/toothpaste/dental floss, though required for dental health, are not immediate necessities. If one goes home without flossing while out in public, one does not face the kind of humiliation faced by a woman who can’t prevent her menstrual flow from becoming a very public incident. The slippery slope argument trivializes this fact.

          • Only if we are talking about frequency. At the specific moment of need for something to manage its external effects, menstruation is equivalent to defecation.

            To be clear, I am not advocating free feminine hygiene products. But don’t trivialize women in the grip of a menstrual emergency.

            And, to take your point — someone who has defecated would certainly not appreciate having pants full of excrement — just as women don’t appreciate having pants full of blood. Grossed out now? Sorry, but this is not a joke.

          • I actually think women are on their period more than they defecate. Menstruation is 24 hours a day, 3-7 days at a time, every month. Most people defecate every day, for a few minutes? But most people certainly aren’t leaking a bit of crap all day, every day for a week. So I don’t think frequency comparisons favor defecation.

          • This conversation has turned gross. Again, toilet paper is just like tampons, but you can’t make tampons free. Tampons have to come in a separately sealed container so they don’t get contaminated. I can’t fathom a way that a device could be designed so they couldn’t be stolen.

  15. The one thing that really matters here is that everyone has to either be in or out. We don’t go around carrying rolls of TP (Although in some countries they do) because we have a reasonable expectation of paper in bathrooms. While I don’t agree with the idea of government mandated tampoons, one of the worst case bathroom scenarios probably involves the lack of a tampon when one is needed, and if we developed a reasonable expectation that one be there, one better as hell be there.

    The reason I don’t think they should be free, or mandated available has for the most part been hashed out: They would invariably be stolen or abused, it’s another burden placed on businesses, and it creates a bad precedence.

    I mean, really, ladies. I’m sorry. I’m a man. I flagellate myself every day because nature made us unequal in some respects. You have my deepest of condolences. There aren’t many parallels between reproductive functions between men and women, and women seem to have the short end of the stick. I mean, you can’t even pee standing up. But at some point this should stop being a strange mysticism to you, We all know that with varying degrees of regularity, women bleed from their vaginas and need tampons. We also know our cars need gas, our bodies need food, and our dogs need poo bags when we walk them. We prepare ourselves on a daily basis for things we know are reasonably likely to happen, specifically giving more thought to things that have the most effect on us. I can only imagine how awful it would be to be in need of a tampon without one, but that only makes it so much more important that you have one, and no one should be more interested in you having one than you.

    • For me, the only persuasive argument is that the stolen/abuse argument. Which really isn’t a matter of ethics so much as it is just practicalities. I think one can probably find/design something to get around that, if someone actually cared about the subject, but since such things are “gross”, no one does, and here we are.

      Otherwise, your argument about people preparing themselves for eventualities would probably equally apply to toilet paper, and no doubt, once upon a time, did apply to toilet paper before our culture gradually embraced “universal toilet paper.” And even still, all across America, there are stalls that contain an unpleasant surprise of no toilet paper for the unwary visitor…

      • “Otherwise, your argument about people preparing themselves for eventualities would probably equally apply to toilet paper, and no doubt, once upon a time, did apply to toilet paper before our culture gradually embraced “universal toilet paper.” And even still, all across America, there are stalls that contain an unpleasant surprise of no toilet paper for the unwary visitor…”

        Needing to wipe off poop is an ‘eventuality’ that will occur to ALL people. We all have to poop, not only that, we ALL have to poop from the day we’re born to the day we die (some even the moment after they die). The need for menstrual cleanliness products affects only HALF the population for what, half their life? Yes that is significant, but it doesn’t rise to the ability for you to disregard Humble Talent’s demonstration that the two needs are NOT equal.

        I would think that the onus on being prepared for reapplying feminine products is on each individual. The individual knows themselves enough BE PREPARED. Not that difficult. However, there comes a time in everyone’s life that they forget or are not in a situation they could carry replacement products.

        The balance then is between individual responsibility and societal obligation to bail out individuals. I don’t see a problem with expecting establishments to provide hygiene products, but I also don’t see a compulsion with those products being provided free of charge.

        • I think the problem I have in addressing this is there really isn’t a good parallel of an autonomic male bodily function… I’d love to point out that men take care of X, but I can’t even think of a situation that’s similar.

          However, once you include all people, the parallels get a little easier.

          People NEED to eat. Dammit. It’s a legitimate bodily function. If you don’t eat, you could pass out and die. And there are some pretty stupid and unprepared people out there. And you don’t know when, EXACTLY, you’re going to get hungry. So why doesn’t the government mandate all businesses have emergency lunch kits. Why is it YOUR job to pack your own lunch, why doesn’t the government just make lunches for you. HEALTHY ones, dammit.

          And what about diabetics? Every man woman and child should be legally obligated to carry an insulin shot and emergency sugar rations just in case someone experiences a hypoglycemic fit in their vicinity!

          This conversation is about personal responsibility. It really is. If you’re worried that you’re so inept at organizing your own life that you feel the only way to guarantee you not soiling yourself with menstrual blood is to have governments mandate commercial buildings not only have them available, but give them away for free, well… I’m not even sorry about this: You’re kinda dumb.

          • Everyone has to poop. But lots of people don’t/cant poop in public restrooms. You dont have a choice, once you start menstruating, on whether to hold it until you get home. And then we start getting into practicalities. A woman might have supplies, but sometimes the body might throw her for a loop. What about an unusually heavy flow for her, or if she is stuck somewhere longer than she thought she might be and runs out? Another woman may not be around to help her out of this situation. I don’t think it is unethical to mandate some available supplies. Most of the arguments for toilet paper apply to menstrual products as well.

          • Women don’t use urinals, but somehow bathrooms supply those — special convenience for MEN. Why don’t we all use unisex bathrooms and you all just learn to aim? That would save money for businesses. 🙂

            • Convinience? Spoken like someone who’s never experienced a pee trough. I always assumed that urinals were a water and space conservation thing, as opposed to a convenience thing. I completely agree on unisex, it’d deal with an AMAZING number of issues.

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