The Discourse of Tampon Tax Repeal

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Proving that there is a Foucauldian approach to just about everything, Shu-Chien Chen (Erasmus University Rotterdam) has posted to SSRN Discourses in the Tampon Tax Campaign, 2022 Analize: Journal of Gender & Feminist Studies 114. Here is the abstract:

The Tampon Tax Campaign is a global social movement that aims to abolish consumption tax on menstruation hygienic products and provide free universal access to them as the ultimate goal. In the campaign, there are different discourses supporting abolishing the tampon tax and discourses casting doubts on the campaign. Discourses supporting the campaign center around breaking the menstruation taboo, including eradicating menstruation poverty, ensuring menstruation health, pursuing human rights, and ending tax discrimination. Doubt-casting discourses include the revenue reduction and economics inefficiency in the market after abolishing tax on menstruation hygienic products. These doubt-casting discourses talk about money. I will use Foucault’s discourse analysis approach, not only to analyze discussions from scholars, but also to compare legislation records of Australia, California and Scotland between 2017 and 2020 that are in response to the tampon tax campaign. The comparison demonstrates that all these conflicting discourses exist in all three jurisdictions. Furthermore, this essay also analyzes less-heard of or less-discussed discourses in response to the tampon tax campaign. These discourses are produced by non-profit organizations that receive subsidies from the tampon tax fund in the UK and by major hygienic products manufacturing companies in Australia via submitting their public consultation opinion. This essay argues that menstruation inequality is an intersectional issue, as well as the discourses around it. Focusing on ‘tax’ is a smart strategy for a movement, but there should be continuous efforts to address the menstruation taboo. The tampon tax campaign is not only about tax nor about tampons, but the power relations underlying the socially constructed menstruation taboo.

The full article is available here.

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