Jesicca Valenti, an author and a columnist at the Guardian, US, in hopes of writing her next column about the availability and cost of feminine hygiene products across the globe, crown sourced a question regarding the same. It didn't take long for all hell to break loose.
On 8 August, Valenti asked her Twitter followers if they knew of any "country where tampons are free or somehow subsidized?" As always, most people failed to understand that since women menstruate every month, subsidising tampons is not a crazy concept.
However, the sheer mention of affordable free feminine hygiene products was quite scandalous for some, and they pounded on keyboards to shame her for being a "loud mouth". Tweets galore, criticising her appearance, anatomy and politics, slut-shaming, irrelevant analogies and for whatever reason, Gaza, piled up on her timeline.
Valenti "storified" these backlash tweets; Storify is a social network service that let the users create stories or timelines using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
"@JessicaValenti If you're so worried abt tampon availability, maybe U need 2 stick a few fingers in UR you-know-what to stem the bleeding," said @skzdalimit
"@JessicaValenti can i also pay for ur toilet paper & ur vagina cream?Anything else u need f/ taxpayers just let me know. I gotcha! @DLoesch" posted @makeliberalscry
@SpergonWynn had a smart single-word reply for the valid question, "@JessicaValenti cunt"
"@chelsea_elisa @lizzyf620 @JessicaValenti "Yeah, it's called the Middle East where they sew your vagina shut for being a loud mouth" said @WatchDougals
"#feminist @JessicaValenti thinks tampons should be subsidized AKA paid for by #patriarchy women are just helpless without that patriarchy!" said @ReyekoMRA.
Valenti is also the founder of Feministing, an online community that helps better connect feminists online and off, and to encourage feminism, thereby providing a forum for a variety of feminist voices and organizations.
In an article titled "The Case of Free Tampons", Valenti makes her case: "The cost of a product that half the world's population needs multiple times a day, every month for approximately 30 years, is simply too much"
In the article that appeared in the Guardian on 11 August, Valenti writes that for many young women worldwide, getting periods is equal to additional expenses, leave of absence from school and risk of regular infections. If governments recognize feminine hygiene as a health issue, we can move beyond the stigma of "that time of the month" and get feminine hygiene products for free.
"The United Nations and Human Rights Watch have both linked menstrual hygiene to human rights. Earlier this year, Jyoti Sanghera, chief of the UN Human Rights Office on Economic and Social Issues, called the stigma around menstrual hygiene "a violation of several human rights, most importantly the right to human dignity," Valenti argues.
Many in the internet community were appalled by the reaction Valenti's genuine question received and took to the comment box to show their support.
"Wow the fact that they were so harsh when she literally just asked a simple question blows my mind. she didn't even say she NEEDED them she was really just asking if anyone knew of a country that worked that way," said Elizabeth Jolene-Joy.
"What a weird question for some people to get angry about!? If she'd asked what the best local pizza place was, would people kick off at her for not ordering Chinese?" said Jenny Mitchell Slade.
"I think it's funny how many people got pissed off about this but no one is upset that we in America have to pay tax dollars for Viagra. #NoBonersForOldMen #IfYouMenstruatedYou'dWantSubsidiesToo," said Magalee Çırpılı.