The More I Bleed, The More I Learn: Part One The Russian Beard Tax

The more I bleed, the more I learn
Making the most of the luxury goods tax, one factual month after the other.

So you might not be aware but menstruation is a thing that happens on the reg for many around the world. For the uninitiated let me enlighten you: there ain’t much joy to be found in it. For some, slight happiness can be found in the revelation that they made it through another month without accidentally bringing life into the world but that’s where it stops for silver linings – or in this case, more like reddish brown linings (sorry not sorry).
The monthly shed is accompanied by additional items being added to the shopping list with a luxurious 10% tax added to the price tag of these items – pads, tampons, panty liners, chocolate – you know, all the essentials.
It’s a dubious tax and adds maybe 10 cents a month, give or take, to the budget– which may not sound like a lot but a) it can add up over a while, and b) implies that these goods are something we CHOOSE. In a sense we do (it’s 2017, there are options, you can even get knickers that soak it all up but frankly they sound kinda icky to me) – but you know what I would choose if I could? To not bleed, mostly.
A nice consolation though, if you could call it that, to justify the spend, are the ‘fun facts’ that are found in the packaging of some brands (okay, one in particular but whatever). They’re great for pub trivia nights – they totally make the 3 to 5 days of pain, moodiness and icky feeling almost worth it. Almost.
I’m no campaigner, no activist but what I can do is string a few words together so when I thought, how can I help the sister hood I thought, I know, I’ll write some shit about the Libra facts – it’s the least I could do. Look forward to months more of entertainment. Unless I get knocked up. Dear God don’t let me get knocked up.

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A little tough to read, I actually had to Google to find out the fact…curse you Libra!

FACT #1 – April 2017: During the reign of Peter The Great, any man who wore a beard was required to pay a special ‘beard’ tax.

What a ‘fun’ first fact to explore – I mean come on, they paid a tax, we pay a tax – it’s like we’re equals!
I mean yeah, these guys were being asked to pay a tax for something that was optional – no one was forcing them to have a beard (unless they were one of those dudes that has a bit of a nothing chin – then they’re doing society a favour by covering that business up!) while I’m sure if you asked most women, they’d agree; involuntary bleeding once a month isn’t really something we’d choose if we could.

That being said, I’m sure that there are some of us ladies who would grow a beard if we could – because hey, why not, it’s all about choice! So Emperor Peter the Great was in power in the late 1600s – it was 1968 in fact when he introduced the beard tax mentioned on the Libra wrapper. The aim of this was to bring the Russian society in line with Western Europe (don’t worry he was doing other stuff too apparently) as beards had previously been deemed unfashionable in the society.
Wouldn’t it be a different story if old mate Pete was around now and trying to bring Russian society in line with the trends of inner city hipsters? Pete wouldn’t be making extra dough from taxing beads – if he was smart he’d have started an online store selling organic hand crafted beard oils and waxes at premium prices in 2012, just before the beard resurgence and flash forward to 2017 he’d be a cashed up entrepreneur. Pete you missed your calling.

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In case you were wondering, this is Peter. In 2017 he wouldn’t look out of place with a fedora perched on his dome.

Actually no, if Pete was alive in 2017 he would be a politician. Not an emperor, just a plain old minister, definitely found somewhere on the right side of things – probably inappropriately given the role of Minister for Women if I think about it. Because actually his beard tax was a bit dumb. First up, while people of different backgrounds and social status were charged the tax taking their status into account (the wealthy were appropriately charged more than the poor), the cost was still excessive. I mean come on; the blokes were just trying to look slick – or were just too lazy to shave and ladies, can’t we all relate to that? Especially this time of year, I know I’m not ashamed to admit that by then end of this month leg warmers aren’t going to be an added accessory on my body.
Imagine if we got taxed for something that our body did involuntarily? Oh, wait…

Peter The Great (I’m starting to think that is a terrible title, more like Peter the…shit)’s tax was abolished in 1772 – almost 100 years after it was first introduced. The internet tells me that he isn’t the only person to get wrapped up in taxing facial hair over the years but I guess feminine hygiene product wrappers don’t have room for all that. So let’s say that this tax was around for almost 100 years, here’s another fun fact; disposable menstrual pads have been made on a commercial scale since about 1888. Let’s just say that logically they’ve always been taxed – that’s now far more than 100 years that this even sillier tax has been around.

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The modern bearded gentleman. Apparently. If so, I think my fella is doing it wrong.  Pic was found here

In summary;
Beards = optional (but sexy, oh so god damned sexy) and a great place for accidentally losing your food and dignity (I found pizza cheese in my boyfriend’s the other day and we hadn’t had pizza for three days!)
Periods = unwanted, unavoidable, uncomfortable, unaffordable.
Both have been taxed rather unnecessarily. Despite the fact that I once got incredibly upset about finding a thick black hair growing from my cheek, if I had to choose, I’d take facial hair any day – at least I could put glitter and butterfly clips in my beard. You should have seen what happened last time I tried to do that with my period.

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