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In one sentence, Obama explained all laws that treat women unfairly

Screenshot via Youtube/WhiteHouse
File under, why we need feminism.
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

On Jan. 16, Barack Obama sat down with YouTube star Ingrid Nilsen, for a policy discussion. Nilsen, whose followers number nearly 4 million, asked the US president about terrorism, health, and LGBT issues—then asked to see his most treasured lucky charms.

(A rosary gifted to Obama by Pope Francis made the cut, as did a lucky poker chip received from a biker on the campaign trail in 2007).

But one question likely stood out for female watchers:

At minute 3:00 of the interview, Nilsen mentions the “tampon tax”: The fact that feminine hygiene products are taxed as luxury (or non-necessary items) in 40 US states (including ten states where even candies or soda aren’t taxed).

“I don’t know anyone who has a period that thinks it’s a luxury,” she says.

“I think that’s fair to say,” responds Obama. “Michelle would agree with you on that.”

“So I want to know, why do these items continue to be taxed?” Nilsen says.

Obama noted that sales taxes are not federal taxes and therefore a question for state governments to address, but gave the perfect, concise answer to Nilsen’s question, anyway. Why do ”tampon taxes”—and all other laws that disadvantage women or dismiss their needs—continue to exist?

He said:

I have to tell you, I have no idea why states would tax these as luxury items; I suspect it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.

It’s no solution, but certainly an observation worth keeping in mind.

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