Monday, February 12, 2018

Periods, Pads and Politics

I got very political this week. I just couldn’t help myself.  Sometimes there are things that ignite your passion – in either a good or bad way, and you just can’t ignore it.  The Arizona Legislature did that for me this week when a group of all men complained about having to hear a particular bill about female inmates.  Something about this bill and the response of the male legislators infuriated me. 

The bill, AZ HB2222, would allow female inmates to have unrestricted access to sanitary pads and tampons.  Currently incarcerated women in Arizona get only 12 pads each month, and if they need more or they want tampons they must buy them.  Most of these women have no money except for the very small salary they can earn at the prison, .15 cents per hour.  This means a woman would have to work for 27 hours to afford one box of tampons.  In addition, if these women get stains on their prison uniforms from menstrual blood they can receive a ticket, which could result in them loosing the ability to purchase items from the prison store.  This is such an assault on the dignity of these women. Why is this horrible situation allowed to continue?

Having personally gone through a very difficult peri-menopause I know only too well the struggle of irregular periods, and at one point I bled for 21 days straight.  I can only image if some of these women have any type of bleeding irregularities, this draconian rule would be excessively cruel.  We should NOT be promoting cruel and unusual punishment and yet this rule seems to do just that.  

When Arizona Representative Athena Salman heard about this issue from some former female inmates she drafted a bill, HB2222, but as she explained the bill to an all male committee she was met with resistance and hostility. One particularly nasty representative named Jay Lawrence not only voted against the bill, but he complained about even having to hear about it. Apparently Mr. Lawrence is less mature than an average middle-schooler because discussing periods is too embarrassing for him. 

Now the fate of this bill is up to yet another man, Representative TJ Shope, who has not scheduled the bill for a hearing.  Despite the fact that the Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a memo requiring all federal prisons to provide free maxi pads, panti liners and tampons “in sufficient frequency and number” the male Arizona lawmakers do not see this issue as a problem.  

This bill and the lack of support from male lawmakers is endemic of the frustration that women feel and these type of issues are the motivation for the highly successful women’s marches and the recent #metoo and #timesup movements.  Women are simply not going to accept being treated as second-class citizens anymore. Many women have already begun to fight back. On Twitter these women are using the hashtag #LetItFlow to draw attention to what is going on. We can and should demand more from our elected officials!  

If you feel strongly about this bill please contact Representative Shope and ask him to schedule a hearing for the bill.  


  1. Thanks for this post. Just another example of how men can control women and often when they get the chance, they will. Yes the woman is in jail, but in order for her to be HELPED why make the constriction of jail life even worse. Why punish women for stains on their uniforms. Sometimes I think people sit around a board table and try to figure out how to make the lives of the OTHER more difficult. I WILL CALL.

    1. Thanks so much Beth - I could not believe how cruel this rule is and how badly these male legislators are responding. The more calls he receives the better

  2. Another smear on Arizona government. Mr. Lawrence should be ashamed of himself! Unreal that he would voice his discomfort level in just hearing the bill. The irony would be funny if it wasn't so very sad.

    1. I agree, it is almost comical but the reality of what these women are dealing with is no joke - its pathetic.