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Imagine there are state-run prisons in which prisoners get 10 squares of toilet paper a week. Single ply. If they want any more, they have to buy it, but because they only earn about 5 cents per hour, they can’t afford it unless they have someone on the outside giving them money.
And imagine that if they run out of toilet paper and end up getting feces or urine on their uniforms, they’re punished by not being allowed to buy things from the commissary. Things like…more toilet paper.
I’m sure if you described that situation to state lawmakers, they’d be appropriately shocked (I hope) and want to do something about it, like make toilet paper a basic sanitary right.
Unfortunately, a very similar situation didn’t go nearly so well for prisoners in Arizona, where menstruating people are given 12 menstrual pads per month, about half of what the average person uses while menstruating. If they want tampons or more pads, they have to buy them. If they run out and bleed on their clothes, they are punished. They are sometimes punished by not being allowed to buy more menstrual items.
State representative Athena Salman introduced a bill to correct this by providing unlimited sanitary items to prisoners, and she brought it before the Arizona Committee on Military, Veterans and Regulatory Affairs. That panel is made up of nine men, none of whom, I am assuming, have ever experienced a period. That normally doesn’t have to be a problem — a decent human being should be able to sympathize even with humans who are in situations they haven’t personally experienced. Unfortunately, women who have periods don’t really count as human, because periods are gross.
I mean sure, poop is gross, and so is urine and blood and bile, but those are all things that men experience, so it’s okay to talk about. Nothing about menstruation is “normal” to these men, and unfortunately to many men around the world, who prefer to pretend it doesn’t exist, even when it’s drastically important to acknowledge that it exists.
For instance, when Representative Salman introduced the bill she pointed out that a box of pads costs $3.20. One of the panelists, Representative Jay Lawrence, interrupted her to say, ““Rep. Salman, Can you keep your conversation to the bill itself? Please?” He later said on the record, “I’m almost sorry I heard the bill. I didn’t expect to hear pads and tampons and the problems of periods.”
I find all this particularly ironic considering that Lawrence himself has a face that looks exactly like a puckered asshole. I mean, it’s ironic because of how sensitive he is about disgusting things, when he is one, but it’s not ironic because so much shit seems to come out of that puckered asshole that I guess it’s appropriate. Anyway.
How embarrassing is it that this man who is clearly old as fuck isn’t doing his fucking job, and is getting in the way of women doing their job, which is to help other women, because he thinks periods are icky.
Oh, then he said that he thinks most of the prisoners are liars and questioned whether or not this was a real issue at all.
Luckily, despite the puckered asshole’s objections, the bill just barely passed the committee 5-4 and now it may move on to a floor vote. I hope it makes its way to law so that, as one of the supporters told the news, we can start treating these prisoners like human beings, which then is likely to help them behave like human beings and stand a chance at actually leaving prison with a semblance of their humanity intact. In the meanwhile, men: grow the fuck up and learn what half the population has to deal with on a regular basis. It’ll make the world a better place.