This week in honor of International Women’s Day, we’re taking up menstruation rights on Times Will Tell, the weekly podcast from The Times of Israel, and speaking with Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, co-founder of the advocacy group Period Equity.
Weiss-Wolf is a lawyer and the vice president and the inaugural women and democracy fellow of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. Her work focuses on gender, politics — and menstruation, including the ongoing campaign to squash the “tampon tax” in all 50 United States.
She speaks about the need for discreet, open access to menstrual products for all those who need them, including the growing transgender population. For many, the financial burden of purchasing these products presents a dilemma — food for the family or a hygienic means of disposing of bodily fluids.
“When it comes down to it, when people exist outside of safety nets and [menstrual products are] just plain unaffordable, we have to consider the ways that public policy can make a difference,” said Weiss-Wolf.
Weiss-Wolf’s 2017 book “Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity” is great fun to read and incredibly enlightening. (Spoiler: Walt Disney even had a finger in the period pie.) We have a frank conversation about menstruation and its role — or lack thereof — in popular culture.
“One of the interesting anecdotes of 20th century menstruation management or product usage is the notorious story about the astronaut Sally Ride when she was going into space and NASA asked her what she would need to manage her period over the course of one period, and they thought it was 100 tampons,” laughed Weiss-Wolf. “It’s not rocket science, people!”