In the abstract I suppose there’s nothing much wrong with wondering why tampons should not be free. At the moment the crux of the campaign is more to have the ‘luxury’ tax removed from sanitary wear (the tampon tax), so taking that a step further and making them free to all women might seem a strange concept. Especially to a young man who not only doesn’t have to shell out roughly a tenner a month on things to shove up his orifices before binning them, but probably doesn’t have to pay for food, rent or laundry either, since he lives at Hotel des Maman et Papa. (I’m guessing here, but it seems unlikely that someone this ignorant is allowed out on their own, never mind that they’re able to earn a wage sufficient to keep a roof over their head).
Forgetting the argument over whether they should be free or untaxed and forgetting his inept – nay, ABSENT – grasp of female human biology (the topic upon which most other detractors are focusing), the reason I am wading into this delightful internet shitstorm is actually nothing to do with tampons, or periods, or even to abuse his ignorance or arrogance (both of which are extremely tempting targets I must admit). No. The thing I want to talk about is the as-yet-unmentioned comments of his focusing on incontinence.
Ah yes, I remember it well. Those heady days of being 19, knowing everything and having utter confidence in your opinions, your privilege, your entitlement and your own body. Now, almost 15 years (and two children) later, the things you once took for granted don’t seem quite so cut and – eh hem – ‘dry’ any more.
Avoiding the tricky subject of whether Master Williams has ever paid tax in his short and blessed life, I actually think urinary incontinence is something that the NHS and the government should be treating. It is far less likely to be self-inflicted than many other ailments the ‘taxpayers’ remedy (obesity, smoking-related illnesses, type 2 diabetes, alcohol poisoning) and, in many cases, can be treated. If not then a few packs of Tena lady is hardly going to break the Bank of England and could make a massive difference to the lives of those affected.
Now I never thought I would take to the internet to discuss something as personal as my toileting issues, but I wonder how many women feel like freaks because of something they have no control over and then shitty little pricks like Ryan Williams make them feel even worse. Here’s the thing, Ryan, bladder control is not always under your control and crossing your legs just doesn’t cut it. For some the mechanics just don’t work any more, for others the electrics are out and the nerves simply don’t send the right signals.
I, unfortunately, fall into the latter camp. During my emergency C-Section 5 years ago I suffered some damage to the nerves that send signals from my bladder that it’s full. For a few weeks I had no clue that I was in need of the loo until the very last minute when it would reach critical mass and I had to make a run for it. Luckily that seemed to resolve itself…until I had my second baby. After a 10lb shoulder dystocia followed by some hefty medical intervention to stop a haemorrhage, my pelvic floor amazingly remained intact (hurrah!) but those same old nerves that were damaged before gave up the ghost once and for all.
For the first year I pushed it to the back of my mind, assuming it would take time to heal fully, but now, 18 months later, I have had to come to terms with the fact that my body plays tricks on me and that I need to set a timer if I want to avoid an unfortunate incident. Thank GOD I have a strong pelvic floor; sometimes it’s all that stands between me and a puddle when I haven’t been to the loo for 7 hours despite drinking three pints of water and two cups of tea.
At least, for me, there is the simple solution of treating myself like a reluctant potty trainee and going to the loo every four hours whether I feel I need to or not. How much worse for my fellow sufferers who, whether by age, infirmity or damage, haven’t the muscles required to control this most basic of functions. Isn’t such a thing embarrassing enough without having to shell out a fortune on incontinence pads? So fuck you, Ryan Williams. Let’s make all kinds of pads and sanitary wear free for those who need them. Let’s face it, they’re not the kinds of items you acquire for fun. Yay! Free tampons and incontinence pads! Party time!
I’m not even entirely sure why this self-satisfied, fame-hungry, intellectually deficient little twerp has been granted so much air time, but let’s seize it and use it as a platform to explain that sometimes the human body cannot control certain functions either by accident (as with incontinence) or design (as with menses). In our modern times there is an understandable revulsion of bodily fluids being transferred to others – apart from anything else it is a hygiene risk – and I don’t understand why people are penalised for these things. Sure, to some women a tenner a month is no great outlay, but for some that is the difference between putting the heating on or buying a new coat and why should any of us be penalised because we happen to be the half of the population who can grow the next generation?
Physical deterioration will happen to us all at some point, though it may be impossible to believe, at 19, that you will be one of those affected. If you can’t control your bladder then you should receive assistance from the medical profession. If you bleed for up to a week, every four weeks, then you should be entitled to – at the very least – some pads to keep you sanitary. Finally, to address one more of this bell end’s statements, you absolutely ABSOLUTELY should be entitled to free condoms, especially if there is the faintest chance you might end up copulating with someone as stupid as Ryan Williams, because God forbid that kind of idiocy be perpetuated into the next generation.
PS – Zac Efron? Really? Dream on.