I had one of those weird, flapping-mouth stunned moments on Wednesday. And it didn’t even have anything to do with President Trump.
I was accused – by a commenter on my Facebook page – of being sexist. Why? Because I was promoting a charity campaign which helps women.
Let’s break this down a little.
He applauded the concept of It’s In The Bag – collecting a handbag, putting items into it and giving it to women in need at Christmas – but wanted to know why bags weren’t collected for men as well.
I gently explained that Share the Dignity is a charity which primarily provides sanitary products to women in need. It’s In The Bag is simply an extension of that mission, but with some extra goodies included for the holiday season.
Men don’t menstruate. They don’t need tampons and pads. Pretty simple, really.
As the conversation unfolded it became clear that what he was really angry about was the lack of services available in Australia for men (with or without children) fleeing from domestic violence.
If you’re a regular reader here, you already know about my strong belief that there are many charities that shouldn’t have to exist.
As a society we should be able provide a system which guarantees safety, shelter and sustenance for everyone.
But we don’t.
Hence charities like Share the Dignity which have sprung up because there is a desperate need for sanitary products for women who can’t afford this basic necessity. Worse still, we have a society that actually taxes sanitary products as though they were a luxury item, as though we can simply turn a biological function on and off ourselves.
But here’s the thing – just because you perceive a need elsewhere in society does not mean you should attack someone who is donating their limited time and money to help alleviate another specific need. A single charity cannot be expected to be everything to everyone. That’s what governments are for.
In fact, Share the Dignity has made it clear that they are run by people who have very little time in general. Hence this Facebook post:
Yes, supporting Share the Dignity is sexist, from the viewpoint that the charity discriminates on the basis of sex – they don’t supply pads and tampons to men. This doesn’t automatically make them bad. Men don’t need pads and tampons.
Menstruation is a biological function that discriminates on the basis of sex. Feel free to label it sexist, because it is. But then you also need to label anything that penalises women for menstruating as sexist. Like, say a GST on sanitary products.
If you’d like to attack Share the Dignity for being sexist, perhaps a great way to redirect your anger is to help change our culture so that domestic violence and homelessness doesn’t hapoen. That would be an excellent step in ensuring that, one day, Share the Dignity needn’t exist at all.