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The Fight Against Tampon Tax Should Not be Ridiculed as a Feminist Joke

28/10/2015 15:32 GMT | Updated 28/10/2016 10:12 BST

In her Telegraph article that enforces the stereotype of women as materialistic spendaholics - "are the feminazis going to ask for VAT-exemption for make-up, bras and, high heels next?" - Ms Hartley-Brewer demeans a worthy cause.

The piece, entitled 'The campaign to end VAT on tampons is one of the silliest the sisterhood has ever mounted', begins with Hartley-Brewer stating: "I realise that you, like me, probably don't want to read about tampons on an average working day". Why? Because menstruating is something to be ashamed of? Something that shouldn't be discussed in the mainstream media, and should only be reserved for mothers and daughters in shy, hushed voices?

The fight against tampon tax is not a case of women simply pointing the finger at patriarchy and playing the victim, it is an active fight against the daily struggle of women to claw some kind of real equality in a society still dominated by the white, male bourgeois.

In reality, as much as very few women would spend the supposedly claimed £492 a year on tampons, who spends just £15 annually on sanitary products?

I would like to see Ms Hartley-Brewer's annual tampon receipts, as I highly doubt she, along with most women, spends just £1.89 a month on 32 Superdrug own-brand tampons. As much as this bargain makes a very dramatic argument, it's unrealistic. Even if every woman in the UK bought these cheap alternatives, how many women are constantly prepared with 32 tampons ready to go in their bag?

If we are being a bit more realistic, a woman shopping in Superdrug would often pay £4.19 for a 32-pack of Tampax Compak - arguably the dominant tampon brand. That's just over 13 pence per tampon.

It is irrelevant anyway; whether women are spending £100 million a year on 'luxury' tampons, or £1 a year, we should not be taxed on a product so vital to our gender. Especially when the sanitary products we are purchasing arguably serve to maintain the view of women as pure, unspoiled objects. Although helpful in ensuring we can go about our everyday lives while menstruating - in a world without tampons, would women not be shunned once a month by a society so afraid of acknowledging that women have bodily functions too?

Would an office let you work if you had blood dripping down your legs?

Ms Hartley-Brewer's article represents a disregarding, belittling voice that spurs women to shy away from referring to themselves as feminists. It is the same voice that keeps women in the sidelines of society, by pitting us against each other, and making a mockery out of genuine struggles for change. In effect, it is also the voice of the gossip magazines that highlight 'flaws' in the bodies of successful women, and is therefore the voice that continues to echo in the minds of young women suffering with eating disorders.

If you don't agree with the fight against tampon tax, fight for something else; fight for equal pay, fight to safely walk alone at night, fight so women are not blamed when they are raped. Put your energy into supporting another cause, as oppose to sneering at other women for supporting this one.

The fight against tampon tax is not a fight against men, in the same way that feminism is not a fight against men. It is a fight against the unjust tax on a product that is essential to half the population's lives.

In an age of post-feminism, is it not encouraging to see women fighting for a decent cause? In Ms Hartley-Brewer's opinion, it might not be the most important feminist cause to fight for, but isn't it better than not fighting at all?

Even if it is 75 pence a year, if we succeed it gives us hope of making real change, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem to others.