Those following the saga of the anti-abortion laws being passed in Texas likely saw that tampons were being confiscated from those entering the Texas capitol. Without even getting into the strange irony that guns were still allowed inside (because how are tampons more dangerous than guns?!), I’d like to talk a bit about the dissonance between an abstract idea and the concrete reality that follows.
The idea here, of course, was to prevent protestors from using tampons as projectiles or launched items within the capitol. The concrete reality of that idea being enforced, however, went beyond implementing that idea and in fact revealed a lack of regard for the consequences for individual women. What if a woman were on her period that day and actually needed a tampon? She’d be out of luck, forced to search for an alternative, such as asking around to see if anyone has a pad, or looking for a vending machine in a women’s bathroom. In my experience, what you’ll find available in public restrooms varies to the degree that I wouldn’t want to rely on that possibility (on a related note, this is one of the reasons why menstrual cups are so awesome).
The result of these kinds of policies is that individual women are, essentially, being punished for being women and having the attendant biological systems that require certain kinds of care. The idea behind the ban – taking certain kinds of protesting tools out of the hands of protesters – is not an inherently sexist one, but its implementation is. This lack of regard for women’s lived experiences, and the willingness to enforce policies that negatively affect women, is typical of everyday sexism, the kind that goes unquestioned by most people, the kind that permeates the fabric of our society, from laws to social norms.
In the end, hopefully not too many women were inconvenienced by the tampon ban – and I’m certainly not trying to argue that this is the biggest, baddest display of misogyny ever. I do hope, though, that this explanation of how an abstract idea can be implemented concretely in a way that disregards women’s needs provokes some thought on how we need to look closely at who’s making our policies and who they affect.