“Excuse me,” a woman politely interrupted as she taps against her bathroom stall wall. “Yes?” I respond while the sound of my urination awkwardly became the backdrop for our brief interaction. I had an idea of what she needed but I didn’t want to assume. “Do you have a pad on you?” I was right. “Sorry, I don’t,” I replied wishing I had an extra one randomly floating around my purse. She let out a big sigh in what sounded like frustration and went, “Thanks.” I finished up my business, washed my hands and dried them slowly in hopes that someone else walked in so I can ask around. A few minutes passed and the bathroom remained empty. The young woman still hadn’t left the stall yet either. As I exited, I noticed the rusty old pad machine dispenser that looked like it had not been used in ages and shook my head, it’s 2018, and we need free pads in public restrooms.
This scenario is all too familiar for many women. Most of us have been on either side of this predicament and needless to say, they are equally mortifying. No matter how much we try to keep up with our monthlies, our uteruses do whatever the hell they want. In other words, bloody surprises pop up at unexpected times and in unexpected places with no regards to our plans. And might I mention that their death-inducing cramps makes things even more irritable but I digress. We have no say in whether our periods arrive earlier or later than we anticipate leaving us in situations like the one above. This brings me again to my main point: where the free pads in public restrooms at?
Free pads in public bathrooms would literally save us from scenarios like the one above. The least the government can do is help us out by providing this basic necessity to make our lives a little easier at school, work, etc. I mean, those crappy 50 cent machines in our public bathrooms are outdated as hell and are akin to ice cream machines at McDonald’s–they don’t work. Their existence of them also feeds into the assumption that we have money in our pockets ready to spend on trips to the lavatory. Never mind the fact that we blow nearly $100 a month for jumbo packs of pads, tampons and accompanying cramp relievers.
Access to sanitary napkins feels like a luxury sometimes despite the fact that they are vital to women’s health and hygiene. We literally couldn’t function without them. Research even shows that at one point, pads were not readily available to the average woman. According to Femme International, an organization that focuses on menstruation taboo across the world:
“Even though sanitary pads were available during this time [1800s], they were much too expensive for most women, and they continued using more traditional methods. When they could be afforded, women were allowed to place money in a box so that they would not have to speak to the clerk and take a box of Kotex pads from the counter themselves. It took several years for disposable menstrual pads to become commonplace.”
Bish, whet? The thought of something as important as a disposable pad being too expensive for the average Jill is insanity. Sadly, this is the reality for young girls and women in underprivileged parts of the world today. Also disturbing is that in developed nations such as the United States and England, less fortunate women don’t have access to them either; they can’t even afford cheapie pads from discount stores. And those machines in the bathroom? Homeless women can’t afford to use those either. Something must be done to change this.
One small thing we can do to make a difference is to create a communal bin. Got an extra pad or tampon laying around your bag? Drop it in the bin on your way in or out. That way, the bin will grow and help out fellow women. Most of all, it will help the ones who are in dire need of one of their most important necessities. Remember, it takes a village…to find a Kotex. No but seriously, public restrooms should have free pads by now. It’s 2018.
Written by Amber Nofetari
You can follow Amber on Twitter here.