Restrooms Are Not Created Equal

By: Lauren Manza, Founder and Program Director of FLOW

Not all restrooms are created equal.

Can you think of a time when you used the bathroom and then, “Oh no!” They’re out of toilet paper. How did you feel? Awkward? Icky? Worried? We can relate.

This story is about FLOW keeping the bathroom of our host, Union Coffee, stocked with what we need to tend to our very normal bodily functions. Relax- Union does a great job restocking their toilet paper.

The normal bodily function FLOW wants to talk about is our period. 86% of women, ages 18-54, say they’ve started their periods in public without the supplies they needed: That’s nearly 100 million women. And the consequences are rough. They often feel embarrassed, anxious, or even panicked. Of the women who have tried to use a public tampon dispenser in their time of need, 92% said it didn’t work. (Of the women in my feminist book club, 100% of them have a period horror story to tell.)

The thing is, tampons are a necessity, not a luxury - despite the fact that it is taxed in Texas. When tampons and other menstrual products are taxed as a luxury, it is uniquely targeting half of the population for being born with a uterus. The infamous ‘tampon tax’ is also far more likely to disproportionately hurt those with a low income.

 Nancy Kramer, recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Advertising History” by Advertising Age, recently founded Free the Tampons with powerhouse lawyer and advocate, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf. Free The Tampons is a foundation that “believes every bathroom outside the home should provide freely accessible items women need for their periods.” In her TED talk, Nancy asked, “Who decided toilet paper was free and tampons weren’t? Who decided that paper towels, soap, seat covers should be free and not tampons?”

FLOW decided tampons should be free. So if you’re a part of the 79% of women who have had to MacGyver a tampon or pad out of toilet paper, rest easy at Union Coffee. FLOW’s got your flow covered.