'Drop it coz it's rot': Australia's anti-tampon tax rap
Australian activists lobbying to drop a controversial tax on women's sanitary goods - the so-called tampon tax - have fired their latest salvo with a new rap video.
The black-and-white video, a parody of Snoop Dogg's classic hit Drop It Like It's Hot, even features a cameo by Christine Forster, the sister of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
"When they taxin' our tampons, drop it coz it's rot, drop it coz it's rot," say the lyrics of Drop It Coz It's Rot.
"I b-l-e-e-d just coz I was born as me, so I pay the GST, coz menstruation ain't for free."
"It's ridiculous that menstruating Australians have to pay an extra 10% in tax every time they get their period," said Mia Lethbridge, the Sydney-based actor and director who produced the video.
"The government classifies tampons and pads as non-essential, but then wants us to wear them."
Australia's tampon tax
- Consumers pay a goods and services tax (GST) of 10% on everything, except certain essential items. Women's sanitary products like tampons are not classified as essentials.
- In May, Treasurer Joe Hockey said he believed sanitary products should be classified as essential goods.
- Mr Abbott says federal government cannot change the GST without the support of states and territories, though some legal experts have disputed this.
- Abolishing the tampon tax would cost state governments about A$30m (£14m; $22m) a year, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Ms Lethbridge said she was inspired by other campaigners, including Subeta Vimalarajah, who started a petition to end the tax earlier this year, and by US comedian Amy Schumer's tongue-in-cheek Milk, Milk, Lemonade video, which also parodies the glamorous style of music videos to tell some honest truths about female bodies.
"I wanted to invert the idea of what people see as sexy, while getting the message across about the tax," Ms Lethbridge told the BBC.
"It's striking how women are sexualised and objectified over and over in modern-day commercial music videos, and I thought it would've been brilliant to to invert that, and say OK, you want to see us sexy then see us how we really are. We bleed."
She acknowledged the video's content, with its images of used sanitary products and menstruating women was graphic, but said breaking the taboo around periods was an important part of the tax campaign.
"To be able to talk about the tax openly the taboo conversation needs to happen - that's where the tax comes from, that's where the problem lies - in these deeply entrenched hush hush attitude."
"I'm sick of feeling like it's something I should be ashamed of."
She also stressed that her team worked closely with a lawyer to make sure the song differed enough from the one that inspired it to avoid legal action. (Though she still hopes Snoop Dogg likes it and gets in touch.)
'We had a lot of fun'
Ms Forster, a local Liberal party councillor, told the BBC that she took part in the video as "a favour for a friend".
The two women met two years ago, when Ms Lethbridge was playing the character of Ms Forster in a theatre production.
"It's been very well received, and it's an incredibly professionally produced clip," said Ms Forster.
"We had a lot of fun making it, but it just makes the point that it's unfair to class tampons as non-essential items, when plainly they are."
Her preference is to keep the tax, but make it a blanket one.
"It'd be a better idea to apply GST to everything, and reduce personal income tax," she said.
Ms Lethbridge, however, wants a total end to a tax on sanitary products. She said it doesn't matter that she and Ms Forster disagree, nor that she isn't sure herself how the government will make up the estimated A$30m shortfall repealing the tax would create.
"The bottom line for me is that every Australian should have access to affordable, basic health items."
Reporting by Tessa Wong and Anna Jones