We Heart: Comedians Take Down the Tampon Tax, Taylor Swift-Style

Periods are even worse than you thought—and not just because no one told you you don’t need to be chained to the tyranny of the tampon.

In case you aren’t familiar with the intricacies of the American tax code, “necessities” or “non-luxury” items are exempted from sales tax as people must buy them in order to survive. What exactly counts as a “necessity” varies state by state, but most states judge purchases like groceries to be necessities and thus make them sales-tax exempt.

As it turns out, only five states think tampons and pads are necessities. In 40 states, tampons and pads are somehow products purchased by choice, not need—a fact everyone who has ever experienced a period will likely disagree with—and remain taxed. Yet 15 states deem candy a tax-exempt necessity. Eleven states judge soda to be indispensable. New York even considers “wine furnished at a wine tasting” more essential than feminine hygiene.

The United States is far from alone in taxing women for having a period, as countries like Australia and the United Kingdom also have taxes on menstrual products. On July 1, Canada became the first country to end its “tampon tax,” inspiring U.K. organizers to launch an online petition calling for a similar abolishment in their own country.

British comedians Cariad Lloyd and Jenny Bede decided a petition wasn’t quite enough. Last week, they posted their hilarious period-centric version of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” protesting the craziness of a tampon tax and brainstorming ways women can avoid having to fork over their paychecks because they happen to have periods.

Some creative sample suggestions include, “Band-Aids might work as sanitary towels/So might teabags, flags or owls/Make your own Mooncup with an ice cream cone/Try what you can until the tampon tax goes.”

Don’t try those at home—but definitely sign that petition.


Carter Sherman is a former Ms. editorial intern. She recently graduated from Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and international studies, and has previously interned at Elle and Los Angeles Magazine. Follow her on Instagram at @heyyymizcarter.