Last Thursday, I dressed up as a giant tampon in front of Parliament House. I was there with four other tampons to promote Subeta Vimalarajah’s petition to remove the GST on sanitary items.
I confess that I was slightly anxious about this adventure. This was not quieted when, as we drove down King St at 5am, my fellow tampon Georgia gestured to the pub she had been at mere hours ago and promptly ran a red light. The general competence of our carload was again called into question when, upon arriving at Parliament House with Taylor Swift blaring, we needed two circuits of the building and the assistance of four separate AFP officers to find the car park.
But any concerns I had pre-9 am were quickly redressed by the most fabulous tampon parading ever seen. We climbed into our tampons—essentially, snuggies with a sexy display of ankle—and learnt to negotiate our strings. We then danced, waved, gyrated and thrust at the cars driving into Parliament House.
The response was mixed. There was bemusement and disdain as well as some too-embarrassed-to-even-look-out-the-window. But there was also honking, whistling and seat-jiving, all for an audience of straight-faced AFP officers. When media began to arrive we took photos and spoke to reporters, while quietly sweating through our suits. Subeta spoke eloquently and directly, while we generally detracted from the seriousness of the situation.
And then it was all over and we bundled ourselves back to Sydney. Perhaps wearing tampon suits in the nation’s capital is inherently a bonding experience, because that ride home was one of the loveliest afternoons I have ever had. Despite barely knowing each other, we talked frankly and sometimes angrily about feminism, intersectionality, race theory, queer representation, transgender issues, Indigenous issues, shitty boys, shitty girls, casual sex, painful sex, the absence of sex.
That car ride demonstrated to me why this petition is so important. This petition is about addressing the shame and silence associated specifically with menstruation and generally with many wom*n’s issues.
This petition recognises that while for a lot of individuals, paying GST on tampons is not a significant burden, for some it truly is. Petitions like Subeta’s, and the public conversations they promote, encourage wom*n to speak —to yell—and to get angry not just for themselves but for others less privileged than they are. This petition is about recognising that wom*n do not have to apologise—or pay additional tax—for being who they are.