Over the past few months, many states have taken a stand against the tampon tax, which requires people to pay extra for hygiene products like tampons and pads. Last week, Michigan joined the fight against treating tampons as luxury goods by introducing an anti-tampon tax bill into the Michigan state legislature.
One of the lawmakers behind the legislation, Democratic state Sen. David Knezek, was bombarded with questions about why he, a man, was so passionate about the bill. He decided to respond with a mic drop of a Facebook post, describing his perspective in detail.
"I wasn't elected to represent just the men in my district. I was elected to represent the women, too," Knezek wrote in his post. "[And] I believe that obligates me to step up and demonstrate my unwavering support [for repealing the tampon tax] as an ally and as a feminist."
In his post, which has since garnered hundreds of likes, Knezek said the conversation surrounding repealing the tampon tax is crucial to lifting the stigma around menstruation in general.
"Even I was nervous to talk about this in front of others and I know many folks, male and female, have expressed similar feelings to me," Knezek wrote in the post. "I hope, if anything, this might start to remove the taboo that surrounds talking about these things and having these very important conversations."
It's fairly common for states to tax menstrual products, treating them as "luxury items" instead of necessities, like groceries or medicine. There are currently 40 states that tax tampons and pads, and only five states that do not: Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Jersey. (Five states do not have statewide sales taxes at all.)
Such taxes add up and create a financial burden for tampon-buyers across the country, with California lawmaker Cristina Garcia estimating that women in her state pay $20 million in taxes on menstrual products every year.
While states and cities like Chicago have started introducing legislation banning the tampon tax, support from male lawmakers like Knezek is crucial to combatting taxation. His message seems to have resonated: Many voters, including men, took to Twitter to praise the senator's outspoken support for the Michigan bill.
We've seen the powerful impact men can have when they align with people of different genders on issues that still carry stark social stigma, like menstruation. It's time for more male lawmakers (and honestly, more men in general) to take a cue from Knezek and realize that these hygiene products are a necessity for people who menstruate, not a luxury.
"I'll never know what it's like to have a period, but I listen to the women who do. They tell me this issue of unfair taxation is a problem for them. They tell me it disproportionately affects low-income women," Knezek said in his post. "So, I try to do something about it. I don't have to have lived the life of someone else to justify my support for them. If it's right, it's right."
Watch Knezek speak on the issue below: