How can I unlearn this toxic lesson when it’s so deeply embedded in our everyday lives?
On my way home the other night, I realized that I was out of tampons, so I stopped to pick up a new box at my local Duane Reade.
Living up to stereotypes everywhere, I also swung by the freezer section and picked up a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. It was slim pickings, with only about 6 pints left. As I picked my Chubby Hubby, another customer scooped up the five remaining pints and walked away. I didn’t think anything of it until I got in line, holding my ice cream and tampons, behind him.
He went to check out and was talking to the checkout woman about all the ice cream he was buying. He wanted to BUY ALL THE ICE CREAM (full disclosure: I’m pretty confident he was either very drunk, or very high, let’s be honest).
He then whipped around and saw me, and said “Let me buy yours for you too!” I laughed and said no, thank you, I had a few other purchases to make. He said he’d buy those for me too . So I laughed again and held up my box of tampons, and shook my head again.
His face went dead serious. “You know what?” he said, “I SHOULD buy your tampons for you. Women are so strong for what you have to go through every month, and no one ever thanks you. So thank you. Let me buy them for you.”
I was stunned. I began to stutter out a “Thank you, but no,” but he kept going. “I’m serious. How much do you spend on them each month?”
“Around $10 a box,” I said “It’s not that bad…” but he looked horrified and stopped me. “That adds up to $120 a year! That’s insane! You have to pay for doing something that is so natural and amazing. You are so strong. Thank you. THANK YOU. Are you sure I can’t get those for you?” I said I was sure, and he thanked me again, and then walked out.
The truth is though, it really does cost a lot to be a woman. Jezebel breaks it down here, but even their tampon prices are calculating it from an online drugstore and only 9 boxes a year, not at a box a month from your local drugstore which makes it higher. Good Magazine has a fun and eye-opening infographic here.
Before I switched to the generic version of my birth control, I was paying $20+ a month for the name brand pill. Even now, though the generic is free under Obamacare, I’m paying over $200 a month for my health insurance, which doesn’t even take into account co-pays for visits to the gynecologist, or necessary procedures that your insurance may or may not cover.
Once I had to get an ultrasound and my insurance initially rejected covering it. I nearly had a heart attack when I got a bill for close to $1,000. For having an ovarian cyst that needed to be looked at.
Don’t worry. I called my insurance company, gave them a piece of my mind, and got it covered. It’s outrageous though, the amount we as women spend each month for doing something we biologically have little control over. And none of this is even including the amount we spend on painkillers, heating pads, and in my case, Ben & Jerry’s each month.
But I digress. After I left Duane Reade, I immediately texted my sister, my mother, and my girlfriends, who in turn texted their sisters and mothers and girlfriends. Reactions varied from hysterical laughter, to proclamations of “WHAT A CREEP,” to “You should have let him!” So, dear readers, what do you think? Should I have let the man buy me my tampons?