(Katherine Fleming ’19 wrote this as a final paper for POL 422: Gender and Sexuality in American Politics with Professor Dara Strolovitch.)
If men could menstruate, “sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free” and “Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea.” So wrote Gloria Steinem in Ms. Magazine in 1978. While cisgender men still do not menstruate, there has been a significant surge in momentum for the movement to make sanitary supplies more affordable, accessible, and even free. Legislation is being introduced on the local, college campus, state, and federal levels to advance menstrual equity, chiefly by eliminating the “tampon tax” that treats period products as luxury goods, removing barriers for low-income people to purchase them, and making sanitary supplies free and available in schools, prisons, homeless shelters, and some workplaces. 2015 was labeled “The Year the Period Went Public,” and 2016 “The Year of Menstrual Change,” due to the rise in activism, legislation, and writing, notably chronicled in Jennifer Weiss-Wolf’s op-eds and in her forthcoming book, Periods Gone Public: Making a Stand for Menstrual Equity. Feminist political scientists have not yet caught up with this crimson wave of activism and legislation, but analysis of menstruation policy generates important insights for scholarship on “women’s issues” and intersectional advocacy. It can also inform and expand our understanding of how state systems and agencies, including welfare bureaus, grants that fund shelters, and prisons, define and dictate the needs and experiences of the disadvantaged people dependent upon their services and/or protection.
In her crucial text Affirmative Advocacy, Dara Z. Strolovitch provides systematic analysis of how advocacy groups often prioritize advantaged subgroup issues and frame them as universal, while focusing less time and fewer resources on disadvantaged subgroup issues and framing them as particular and niche. While the definition of what constitutes a “women’s issue” or a “women’s interest” is hotly contested, most scholars would agree that menstruation belongs within this category – though this classification is complicated by the experiences and needs of gender-nonconforming and transgender people, as will be explored later in the paper. Within the category of “women,” menstrual equity advocacy and legislation primarily benefits intersectionally marginalized subgroups of women, particularly those who are low-income, homeless, on welfare, and/or in the prison system.
Indeed, menstruation makes the most sense as a policy issue (rather than a health or cultural issue, for example) when viewed from the perspectives of disadvantaged subgroups. Imagine two different women shopping for menstrual products, one upper-middle class and the other low-income. For the former, the “tampon tax” is a relatively minor inconvenience, something she might grumble to her friends about over brunch. For the latter, it is a barrier to purchasing the products she needs, and she may often be forced to make the decision: food or pads? Yet, contrary to what would be expected following Strolovitch’s analysis, menstrual equity is in many cases not treated by advocacy groups or activists as particular and niche, but rather as something that benefits all women – even if it benefits certain women more than others. For instance, consider the title of the recent legislation proposed in the House of Representatives: the “Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017.”
The Menstrual Equity bill was introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Grace Meng, the representative for Flushing, New York and the first Asian American to represent New York in the House. The act would: (1) let individuals use flexible spending accounts to buy menstrual hygiene products, (2) give a refundable tax credit to low-income people who use such products, (3) let funds from the Emergency Food and Shelter Grant Program be used by homeless shelters to buy menstrual supplies, (4) require states to provide supplies to female-bodied inmates, without cost and whenever they are needed, if they want to continue to receive a certain type of funding, and (5) have the Secretary of Labor order employers with 100+ employees to provide free products in the workplace. Congresswoman Meng, in a letter published in the magazine Marie Claire, introduces the bill with a compelling anecdote about how low-income girls in her Queens district are sometimes forced to skip school because they cannot afford period products and fear being shamed and humiliated if they go to school with bloodstained clothes.
While she opens with an example of an intersectionally marginalized population and goes on to emphasize incarcerated women and women relying upon homeless shelters for supplies as well, Meng also makes menstrual equity about all women. She asserts that menstrual equity is also for the “86 percent of women [who] start their period unexpectedly without necessary supplies” and proclaims, “We cannot stop until we reach real menstrual equity for women and girls everywhere.” The publication of this letter in the women’s magazine Marie Claire (in itself a topic for feminist analysis) is revealing, as its audience is likely mostly middle and upper-middle class women who have the disposable income and time to purchase and read fashion magazines, though the online availability of the article likely reaches a wider audience. It thus seeks to convince a more advantaged subgroup of women to rally to an issue framed as both particularly beneficial to disadvantaged subgroups and important to the well-being and equality of all women.
Investigating the demographics of the cosponsors of the bill sheds light on menstrual equity as a disadvantaged subgroup issue and adds to scholarship on “women’s issues” and descriptive representation. A frequent assumption is that bills on “women’s issues” will be primarily introduced and co-sponsored by women legislators. In the case of the Menstrual Equity for All Act, there are 33 co-sponsors, 17 women and 16 men: 8 women of color, 9 white women; 9 men of color, 7 white men. Considering the underrepresentation of women of color, white women, and men of color in the House, they sponsor this bill at a much higher percentage than do white men. White men are 67.1% of the House and 21.2% of the co-sponsors on the bill, but only 2.4% of all white male representatives are involved. Women of color are 7.8% of the House, but Meng and the 8 women of color who are co-sponsors constitute 26.5% of the people involved with the bill – over 3 times the rate of their overall representation – and 26.5% of all women of color in the House are involved. White women are 11.3% of the voting representatives in the House, but make up 27.3% of the bill’s co-sponsors, and 18.4% of all white female representatives are involved. Men of color are 13.7% of the House, but make up 27.3% of the co-sponsors, and 15% of the total minority men in the House are involved.
While women of color are the leading force in and most significant support for the Menstrual Equity bill, the fact that men of color are co-sponsoring it out of proportion to their representation in Congress as a whole can serve as an example for Michael Minta and Nadia Brown’s analysis of the role that minority men legislators play in advancing “women’s issues.” Minta and Brown argue that in studies of descriptive and substantive representation of “women’s issues” or “interests,” scholars have largely overlooked the importance of the presence of minority men in “keeping women’s interests on the congressional agenda.” They argue that minority men are particularly active on joint “women’s” and “minority” issues. In the case of menstrual equity, it might seem at first to be what they would label a “direct women’s issue.” Upon closer investigation, however, it is also a “racial minorities issue” because due to structural discrimination and inequalities, women of color are disproportionately represented in the categories of low-income, homeless, welfare-receiving, and incarcerated. As Dorothy Roberts explains in Killing the Black Body:
Black women are five times more likely to live in poverty, five times more likely to be on welfare, and three times more likely to be unemployed than are white women…Any policy directed at women on welfare will disproportionately affect Black women because such a large proportion of Black women rely on public assistance.” (111)
Roberts argues that policies affecting women on welfare thus have a strong “direct impact on the status of Black people as a whole” (111). While the statistics are of course not identical for other racial minority groups, policies impacting low-income people and/or welfare recipients have a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged racial minority groups more generally, for whom the men of color who are co-sponsors serve as descriptive representatives.
The Menstrual Equity for All bill, like many other menstruation policy initiatives, would disproportionately benefit low-income people, welfare-recipients, and those who rely upon homeless shelters. Women on welfare are often forced into selling their food stamps in order to pay for things like tampons that are treated as “luxuries.” In the Nevada legislature, which currently consists of 39.7% women and is in the midst of a surge in “women’s issues” legislation, a nurse “testified to the calls she received from low-income women forced to choose between feminine hygiene products and food for their children” during a hearing on a bill that would eliminate the “tampon tax.” Though she powerfully highlighted the burden that the tax places on low-income women for whom both food and pads are urgent necessities, a male legislator then “asked if he could get his jockstrap tax free.” The lack of male understanding of menstruation, in terms of biology and the necessity and expense of period products, poses potentially significant obstacles to advances in menstrual equity. On a smaller scale, when several Princeton student organizations united to stock free pads and tampons in Frist Campus Center bathrooms, one commenter on an article in the Daily Princetonian about the pilot program complained: “there’s a clear line between equality and preferential treatment. this is honestly revolting.”
The disgust and revulsion in this comment aside, providing a necessity to people who cannot afford it is perceived as a special favor, “preferential treatment,” as is too often the case with measures that seek to remedy basic inequalities. The labeling of period products as other-than-necessary in taxation and in funding programs for homeless shelters is an insight into the broader politics of what gets labeled a necessity or a luxury, and what this can tell us about the biases and priorities of those with political power. While not directly analogous, this is important to consider in conversation with Dorothy Roberts’ analysis of how long-acting reversible contraceptives are given to women on welfare (and Black women in particular) and even incentivized, while these women’s more basic healthcare needs are not met. Roberts’ text is also relevant because in backlash against menstrual equity initiatives, the trope of the “welfare queen” often lurks just beneath the surface. For instance, in a conservative student publication a female columnist wrote that, as foretold by Rush Limbaugh, “radical feminism” is really “a push for women to rely on the government,” and that feminists see “Uncle Sam” as “Big Daddy.”
The rhetoric of the government as a sugar daddy doling out luxury tampons, and of women’s dependency more generally, is intensely sexualized and racialized – and all too familiar. With that kind of entitlement, what’s next after tampons? A Cadillac? The conservative women’s group Chicks on the Right does not explicitly deal in these tropes, but also echoes classic welfare debates by invoking personal responsibility: “If you’re an able-bodied, grown woman and can’t afford tampons for $3.97, you’re doing something wrong. Re-examine your life.” Ignoring the cumulative costs of period products over the course of a lifetime, or even a year, and the structural barriers to fair access, the Chicks on the Right only concede an inch of ground by stating it is “fine” to guarantee pads and tampons to female inmates.
The provision of the Menstrual Equity bill that would mandate fair access to period products for prison inmates is crucial in demonstrating how menstrual equity is especially important for the intersectionally marginalized, and also in highlighting what this issue can teach us about what state institutions and systems seek to do to disadvantaged people. The denial of regular, reliable, and affordable access to period products in the prison system has been entering into the public consciousness only in the past few years. A recent New York Times article entitled, “In Jails, Pads and Tampons as Bargaining Chips,” investigated how menstruation in treated in New York jails and prisons “as an inconvenience, almost a surprise, to be met…with an improvised response,” and how “supplies like pads and tampons can become bargaining chips, used to maintain control by correction officers, or traded among incarcerated women.”
It is not about “stock,” because these jails often have a fully adequate amount of supplies, but rather about “power” and control over inmates through sporadic and uneven distribution. Formerly incarcerated advocate for menstrual equity Chandra Bozelko described how “You start to hate your body” when denial of the means for hygiene becomes a form of shame and humiliation. A woman currently incarcerated in upstate New York recalled being on her period, but not having any supplies, when her father came to visit her. During the mandatory post-visit strip search, the corrections officer called her “disgusting” as “blood ran down her legs.” These conditions are not unique to New York’s prisons: the American Civil Liberties Union Chapter of Michigan has filed a federal lawsuit for eight women who are inmates at Muskegon County Jail who argue that its policies are “dehumanizing,” “unconstitutional,” and violative of “human dignity.” They point in particular to the denial of access to menstrual products and clean underwear, as well as policies that allow male guards to watch female inmates while they shower, change clothes, and go to the bathroom.
Lack of access to sanitary products is about more than just indifference and hostility to menstruation. The horror stories of shamed women driven to hate their own bodies go much deeper and reveal how the carceral state as an institution and the individuals working within it often seek to humiliate and manipulate inmates by denying them control over their own bodily needs. As Black women are 6.5 times more likely than white women to be imprisoned, this treatment must be considered as racialized as well as gendered. In her book Arrested Justice, Beth Richie details the brutal violence, often loaded with sexual aggression, that Black women face when under “state custody.” While the denial of menstrual products may initially seem separate from the violence Richie describes, it is part of the broader race-gendered exertion of power over the physical bodies of inmates and the enforced lack of privacy, dignity, and security. It is not a coincidence that the woman interviewed in the Times article was humiliated about her period during a strip search, or that the plaintiffs in the ACLU Michigan case testified in the same breath to being watched by guards in the showers and not being given pads. In her discussion of the crackdown on mothers of so-called “crack babies,” Dorothy Roberts tells the story of a woman who was arrested and jailed just after giving birth. Still bleeding from the aftermath of the grueling ordeal, the woman was forced to “spen[d] the night in city jail without a sanitary napkin.” While this is just one anecdote, it implies that the broader policy of punishing Black women’s reproduction and denying them autonomy over their bodies is at play in the denial of pads and tampons to incarcerated women, who are disproportionately Black.
An intersectional analysis of menstruation policy, and the Menstrual Equity for All Act in particular, begs the question: Is menstrual equity really for all? A significant, and often overlooked, question is whether these policy efforts include and meet the needs of transgender, gender non-conforming (GNC), and gender non-binary (NB) individuals. These populations, especially youth, are more likely to be low-income and/or homeless and thus face “the stigma of being outside the gender binary coupled with the stigma of poverty” when they need menstrual products. Currently, LGBT Community Centers are filling this role in some places like Pittsburgh, but it is unclear whether homeless shelters as a general policy would distribute period products to genderqueer clients.
In menstrual equity initiatives on college campuses like that of Brown, Columbia, and Princeton, activists, student government officials, and administrations can push to have period products in all bathrooms, whether labeled “men’s,” “women’s,” or “unisex,” in order to make sure equity really is for all. While there is backlash, often vitriolic, from conservative students and publications, the policies can still be implemented. As is often the case with feminist activism working within state institutions, the radical theories and goals of the movement may be watered down in order to meet parameters of legislative acceptability. Is this the case with menstrual equity initiatives? In the text of the Menstrual Equity bill, an “eligible individual” is defined as “an individual who uses menstrual hygiene products,” without an explicit gender specification. However, the words “women and girls” also appear throughout the bill, including in the official title, and in the press releases and articles about the bill, and Meng makes no explicit mention of the needs or concerns of trans and nonbinary people.
The issue of trans, GNC, and NB inclusivity within menstruation legislation cannot be considered without a discussion of the broader political climate of transphobia, and the intense paranoia surrounding bathrooms in particular. In the era of “bathroom bills” that seek to bar transgender people from using bathrooms that match their gender identity, and an administration supportive of such policies, the guarantee of menstrual products to people who menstruate but do not identify as women seems unlikely, or at least hotly contested. Why is it that certain people in power (often white Republican men) care so fiercely about transgender people’s bathroom choices, or about denying access to period products? Bathrooms are not a new terrain for negotiation of civil rights – an important part of Jim Crow segregation was the denial of full humanity, equality, and dignity in even the most intimate and mundane moments of daily life, like going to the restroom. While the circumstances are of course different, what stands out as a commonality is the enforced lack of dignity, access, and choice.
Another important consideration is the impact of pads and tampons upon the environment. Part of the menstruation revolution is the surge in development of more sustainable period products like menstrual cups and absorbent underwear. However, while these products save money in the long-term, as well as reducing waste and environmental destruction, the upfront costs (around $40 each) bar many people from access. When legislation about period products is still intensely controversial and clean underwear is not even a guarantee for many of its potential beneficiaries, an effort to provide free menstrual cups and Thinx underwear on a large scale currently seems beyond the scope of imagination. In the text of the bill, “menstrual hygiene products” varies in definition depending on the section. For the provision that would allow individuals to charge menstrual products to their flexible spending account as a medical expense, the broadest definition is given: “tampons, pads, liners, cups, sponges, douches, wipes, sprays, and similar products.” A similar definition applies for the provision about tax credits and for the Emergency Food and Shelter Grant program. For inmates and detainees, however, it is in the hands of the Attorney General to determine what “menstrual hygiene products” are. Despite the latitude in the definitions for most provisions of the bill, in cases in which agencies and institutions have the power of choice the focus will likely be upon basic pads and tampons. But once the groundwork is laid for considering menstruation as a valid policy issue, there might be room for innovation and improvement in terms of which products are provided.
The elephant in the room throughout this paper has been the GOP and the dismal political reality of the present moment for women’s healthcare. Under an administration obsessed with and disgusted by women’s bodies, depending on the function, and intent on shutting down Planned Parenthood and stripping away coverage for contraceptives, the fate of menstruation legislation on the federal level seems bleak. While funding for menstruation supplies should not be conflated with coverage of abortion or contraception, the dominant party is so hostile to (and often ignorant about) reproductive rights and health that it likely will not make the distinction. Indeed, building upon Dorothy Roberts’ compelling work, the denial of period products can be interpreted less as ignorance of female bodily functions and more as one part of a broader policy of barring intersectionally marginalized women from autonomy over their bodies and systematically devaluing their needs.
As the push to make the period public and political is still relatively new, there is a need for more scholarship on legislation that has already been implemented and how it has played out. The history of policies with original feminist goals being disfigured by collaboration with the state has been well-documented. Would menstruation policies actually meet the needs of the disadvantaged subgroups they seek to serve, or would state agencies retain too much capacity and agency to bend the rules to shame, humiliate, and deny? This concern is particularly pressing in the context of prisons, where there must be rigorous periodic follow-up to make sure that guards and other officials are not abusing their power by retaining systems of sporadic and unequal distribution. In general, a framework of accountability and follow-up checks must be developed and implemented as well, because there would likely be resistance and backlash.
But despite these caveats and concerns, menstruation policy has exciting and transformative potential. For now, it will likely continue to advance on the local and state levels, but looking ahead, it could make significant strides under a hypothetical Democratic-controlled legislature and/or presidency, particularly one with women and men of color represented in greater numbers. Its success would be about more than just menstruation: it would represent a victory for compassion and dignity and set a precedent for prioritization of intersectionally marginalized subgroups in advocacy efforts and state policies.
“Abuse and Neglect at Muskegon County Jail,” American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, http://www.aclumich.org/abuse-and-neglect-muskegon-county-jail#About.
Bialek, Kristen and Jens M. Krogstad, “115th Congress sets new high for racial, ethnic diversity,” Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, January 24, 2017. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/24/115th-congress-sets-new-high-for-racial-ethnic-diversity/
Blake, John. “Return of the ‘Welfare Queen.’” CNN Politics, January 23, 2012. http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/23/politics/weflare-queen/
Bleau, Hannah. “Democratic Lawmakers Push ‘Menstrual’ Equity Bill.” Chicks on the Right, February 21, 2017. http://www.chicksontheright.com/democratic-lawmakers-push-menstrual-equity-bill/.
Bronson, Brittany. “What Happens When Women Legislate,” New York Times, April 18, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/opinion/what-happens-when-women-legislate.html?_r=0
Bumiller, Kristin. “Feminist Collaboration with the State in Response to Sexual Violence: Lessons from the American Experience,” in Gender, Violence, and Human Security: Critical Feminist Perspectives, eds. Aili Mari Tripp, Myra Marx Ferree, Christina Ewig, 191-213.
Celis, Karen et al, “Constituting Women’s Interests through Representative Claims,” Politics & Gender 10 (2014): 149-174.
Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP). Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics, last modified 2016. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/women-us-congress-2017.
Crenshaw, Kimberlé W. “From Private Violence to Mass Incarceration: Thinking Intersectionally About Women, Race, and Social Control.” UCLA Law Review 59 (2012), 1418-1472. http://www.uclalawreview.org/pdf/59-6-1.pdf
“Gay and Transgender Youth Homelessness by the Numbers.” Center for American Progress, June 21, 2010. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2010/06/21/7980/gay-and-transgender-youth-homelessness-by-the-numbers/
Greenberg, Zoe. “In Jail, Pads and Tampons as Bargaining Chips.” New York Times, April 20, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/20/nyregion/pads-tampons-new-york-womens-prisons.html
Hong, Cailin. “Letter to the Editor: Let’s talk about periods.” The Daily Princetonian, December 2016. http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/article/2016/12/letter-to-the-editor-lets-talk-about-periods.
House of Representatives, H.R. 972 To increase the availability and affordability of menstrual hygiene products for women and girls with limited access, and for other purposes, 115th Congress, February 2, 2017. https://meng.house.gov/sites/meng.house.gov/files/115th%20Congress_Meng_Menstrual%20Equity%20for%20All%20Act_pdf%20for%20intro.pdf
Kabbany, Jennifer. “Feminist Argues Tampons Should Be Free for Women.” The College Fix, August 13, 2014. https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/18800/.
Kerr, Sue. “If You Can’t Afford Tampons, What Do You Do?” Huffington Post: The Blog, May 19, 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sue-kerr/if-you-cant-afford-tampons-what-do-you-do_b_5352396.html
Meng, Grace. “Our Laws Period-Shame Women – So I’m Going to Change Them.” Marie Claire, February 17, 2017. http://www.marieclaire.com/politics/features/a25464/congresswoman-grace-meng-menstrual-equity-bill/
“Meng Renews Effort to Make Menstrual Hygiene Products More Accessible and Affordable to Women,” Press Release, U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng Official Website, last modified February 13, 2017. https://meng.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/meng-renews-effort-to-make-menstrual-hygiene-products-more-accessible.
Minta, Michael D. and Nadia E. Brown. “Intersecting Interests: Gender, Race, and Congressional Attention to Women’s Issues.” Du Bois Review 11, no. 2 (2014): 253-272.
Piper, Greg. “Syracuse gives men free tampons, student leader says they aren’t ‘feminine’ products.” The College Fix, October 31. 2016. https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/29729/
Richie, Beth. Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation. New York: New York University, 2012.
Roberts, Dorothy. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. New York: Random House, 1997.
Steinem, Gloria. “If Men Could Menstruate.” Ms. Magazine, October 1978, http://www.mylittleredbook.net/imcm_orig.pdf.
United States House of Representatives, H.R. 972 – Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017, 115th Congress, 2017-8. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/972/.
Weiss-Wolf, Jennifer. Periods Gone Public: Making a Stand for Menstrual Equity (New York: Arcade, 2017).
Wessler, Seth Freed. “Timed Out on Welfare, Many Sell Food Stamps.” The Investigative Fund, The Nation Institute, February 6, 2010. http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/immigrationandlabor/1252/timed_out_on_welfare,_many_sell_food_stamps/
This paper represents my own work in accordance with University regulations.
/s/ Katherine McClain Fleming
 Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, Periods Gone Public: Making a Stand for Menstrual Equity (New York: Arcade, 2017).
 Dara Z. Strolovitch, Affirmative Advocacy: Race, Class, and Gender in Interest Group Politics (Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 2007, 126.
 See, for example, Karen Celis et al, “Constituting Women’s Interests through Representative Claims,” Politics & Gender 10 (2014): 149-174.
 Emphasis mine.
 “Meng Renews Effort to Make Menstrual Hygiene Products More Accessible and Affordable to Women,” Press Release, U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng Official Website, last modified February 13, 2017. https://meng.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/meng-renews-effort-to-make-menstrual-hygiene-products-more-accessible.
 Grace Meng, “Our Laws Period-Shame Women – So I’m Going to Change Them,” Marie Claire, February 17, 2017, http://www.marieclaire.com/politics/features/a25464/congresswoman-grace-meng-menstrual-equity-bill/.
 These numbers will shift as more co-sponsors join the bill. For the most up-to-date statistics, visit this link: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/972/cosponsors.
 United States House of Representatives, H.R. 972 – Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017, 115th Congress, 2017-8. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/972/.
 Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics, last modified 2016, http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/women-us-congress-2017
 Kristen Bialek and Jens M. Krogstad, “115th Congress sets new high for racial, ethnic diversity,” Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, January 24, 2017. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/24/115th-congress-sets-new-high-for-racial-ethnic-diversity/
 Michael D. Minta and Nadia E. Brown, “Intersecting Interests: Gender, Race, and Congressional Attention to Women’s Issues,” Du Bois Review 11, no. 2 (2014): 253.
 Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (New York: Random House, 1997), 111.
 Seth Freed Wessler, “Timed Out on Welfare, Many Sell Food Stamps,” The Investigative Fund, The Nation Institute, February 6, 2010. http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/immigrationandlabor/1252/timed_out_on_welfare,_many_sell_food_stamps/
 Brittany Bronson, “What Happens When Women Legislate,” New York Times, April 18, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/opinion/what-happens-when-women-legislate.html?_r=0
 Cailin Hong, “Letter to the Editor: Let’s talk about periods,” The Daily Princetonian, December 2016, http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/article/2016/12/letter-to-the-editor-lets-talk-about-periods.
 Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body.
 John Blake, “Return of the ‘Welfare Queen,’” CNN Politics, January 23, 2012. http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/23/politics/weflare-queen/
 Hannah Bleau, “Democratic Lawmakers Push ‘Menstrual’ Equity Bill,” Chicks on the Right, February 21, 2017, http://www.chicksontheright.com/democratic-lawmakers-push-menstrual-equity-bill/.
 Zoe Greenberg, “In Jail, Pads and Tampons as Bargaining Chips,” New York Times, April 20, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/20/nyregion/pads-tampons-new-york-womens-prisons.html
 “Abuse and Neglect at Muskegon County Jail,” American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, http://www.aclumich.org/abuse-and-neglect-muskegon-county-jail#About.
 Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, “From Private Violence to Mass Incarceration: Thinking Intersectionally About Women, Race, and Social Control,” UCLA Law Review 59 (2012),1437. http://www.uclalawreview.org/pdf/59-6-1.pdf
 Beth Richie, Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation, (New York: New York University, 2012), 49.
 Roberts, Killing the Black Body, 166.
 “Gay and Transgender Homelessness by the Numbers,” Center for American Progress, June 21, 2010, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2010/06/21/7980/gay-and-transgender-youth-homelessness-by-the-numbers/
 Sue Kerr, “If You Can’t Afford Tampons, What Do You Do?,” Huffington Post: The Blog, May 19, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sue-kerr/if-you-cant-afford-tampons-what-do-you-do_b_5352396.html
 Hong, “Letter to the Editor: Let’s talk about periods.”
 House of Representatives, H.R. 972 To increase the availability and affordability of menstrual hygiene products for women and girls with limited access, and for other purposes, 115th Congress, February 2, 2017. https://meng.house.gov/sites/meng.house.gov/files/115th%20Congress_Meng_Menstrual%20Equity%20for%20All%20Act_pdf%20for%20intro.pdf
 Imagine Jeff Sessions determining the definition of “menstrual hygiene products.”
 House of Representatives, H.R. 972 To increase the availability and affordability of menstrual hygiene products for women and girls with limited access, and for other purposes.
 Roberts, Killing the Black Body.
 Kristin Bumiller, “Feminist Collaboration with the State in Response to Sexual Violence: Lessons from the American Experience,” in Gender, Violence, and Human Security: Critical Feminist Perspectives, eds. Aili Mari Tripp, Myra Marx Ferree, Christina Ewig, 191-213.