Provision is a great idea, free government handouts a terrible one. Credit, http://saloona.co.il/shnot30/ under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

That all women should – do – have access to menstrual products is one of those things which happily marks out a rich and liberal society. Worth perhaps pointing out that not access to such is the mark of either a poor one or, as Solzhenitsyn complains bitterly in Gulag Archipelago, a socialist and planned one. It also seems fair enough that schools might have a box or two of something for those who forget, that hospitals stock as they do toilet paper.

However, the direct government hand out, for free, of menstrual products is an idea of the utmost fatuity. One verging on the positively insane. For pretty much the same reason that we don’t have the government handing out toilet paper, that other essential of a reasonably civilised existence. But trust the British Medical Association to get the wrong end of the ordured stick here:

Free tampons should be provided by the state, the British Medical Association has said.

The union voted overwhelmingly in favour for sanitary products to be made widely available to all in need.

Fools. Sure, this is sensible enough:

The medical student said special attention should be paid to hospital in-patients.

“We do not ask patients to bring in toilet paper or food so why are we asking them to bring in their own sanitary products.

“Patients in hospitals should expect to have all of their basic needs met to allow a quick and dignified recovery. This is currently not happening.

“I call on the BMA to ensure all in-patients have easily available access to sanitary products for the duration of their stay, offered when and where appropriate,” she said.

What I as an ageing white bloke (I prefer “one rich in maturity and lacking in melanin” but then…) think on such a subject is of no importance here at all. But that all seems sensible enough. It’s the extension to the general population which is ridiculous. One example of which is exactly that comparison to bog roll. Why isn’t that distributed free by government if it’s a similar essential? Whatever that reason is will apply to tampons too, right?

It’s also difficult to see that there is such a thing as period poverty generally in the population. A box of 20 – again, elderly white bloke here but sounds enough for a monthly usage often enough – costs perhaps a pound which isn’t a sum really in short supply anywhere in this nation.

But even if we want to reject all of that, to insist that this is some vast unmet need which really must be supplied. The handing out of freebies still isn’t the solution. As I’ve pointed out before:

Given my lack of experience in this area, I did actually check this all with a female doctor who pointed out that it’s all a little more complicated than just tampons. Flows vary, some prefer pads, and so on. The very fact that there are so many different designs and types on the market is all the evidence we need that different women prefer different methods of dealing with menses.

Which, of course, is why it is such rampant idiocy for government to try to distribute the things themselves. We already have great big barns in every city and town in the country packed with all the variations of these products. They’re called shops. All women need is the coin of the realm to browse said barns and purchase the variant they desire. Thus we shouldn’t be handing out menstrual products (emergency supplies in a school cupboard or homeless shelters or even food bank being a different matter): we should be handing out money.

Yes, obviously, it’s my patriarchalist cis-hetero maleness which means that I’m deeply distrustful of the initial case that there’s a problem here – at least among those of low income rather than those in genuine destitution.

But imagine – difficult though it may be for both of us – that I’m wrong here. It’s still true that the solution is a handout to women to buy what they desire on the market, not anything so flabbergastingly stupid as a Government Tampon Distribution System.

What the BMA is really showing here is that yes, we do insist that doctors and those training to be show that they are clever. But being clever has little to nothing to do with being sensible, bright nor reasonable.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. The unnamed medical student makes a good point. Free bogroll and food in hospitals therefore free manhole covers. Therefore, smallish quantum leap, free manhole covers throughout society, so why not free food and bogroll throughout society too. The precedent has already been set with free syringes and free hallucinogens so let’s have free booze and ciggies too. While we’re at it, the most important risk factor for prostate cancer is a lack of regular sexual release so roll on the free prozzies. I mean that’s what we’re all for innit, the free society.

  2. It is hardly “of no importance” that a union argues that a product that takes time and skill to manufacture should be distributed for free on the basis that someone can make a sufficiently clever excuse.