Fighting patriarchy with packaging and periods 

Thinking outside the box but within the rules in order to rewrite the rules

Sometimes you have to go hunting for great examples of Corkscrew Thinking in Action, other times they are so blindingly brilliant that when you come across them you can’t help but sit up and pay attention. This case study is definitely an example of the latter. 

This story has made such an impact that it has already triggered political change and a re-evaluation of taxation of female hygiene products. 

Did you know that in Germany, tampons have for over more than half a century, Tampons have been taxed as luxury good at a rate of 19%. Now I don’t think you have to speak to many women to establish that ‘luxury’ is not a word associated with menstruation…

You would think that taxing tampons as luxury goods would be shocking enough. What’s more unbelievable is that actual luxury items such as oil paintings, caviar, truffles and goldfish are classified as essential everyday items and therefore taxed at just 7%… GOLDFISH?!

How did these laws come to be? It may be worth noting that when these taxation laws were passed in 1963; 499 men voted, in comparison to just 36 women.  

“Seven percent on truffles – but nineteen percent on tampons? You don’t have to be a feminist to understand that that’s bullshit”

 Co-founders Ann-Sophie Claus and Sinja Stadelmaier had already been working on challenging the status quo of tampon taxation as luxury goods for over a year when they developed their brilliant campaign to work within the existing rules in order to rewrite the rules when they realised that ‘nothing was going to change’ through traditional petition methods of challenging the rules – despite having 170,000 signatures.

This was when they hatched their brilliant idea. To publish a book – because importantly books are taxed at 9%. Alongside 46 pages of taboo breaking menstruation facts, drawings and stories, the book also provides space for 15 organic tampons. 

The first run of books sold out within two days. 

Within the space of a few months, the campaign has made global news, highlighting the injustice of these rules 

And as of the 1st of January 2020 – females hygiene products in Germany will be taxed as everyday items at a rate of 7%

We believe that The Tampon Book is an outstanding example of modern Corkscrew Thinking. An unignorable and unapologetic protest against the status quo of luxury taxation rates for tampons and other female hygiene products, creatively thinking outside the box whilst working within the rules and courageously taking on antiquated institutions to demand better and break down taboo’s. 

Corkscrew Thinking In Action

What status quo was broken? Tampons taxed as luxury items at 19%

How was creativity used? To work with the rules and use the packaging to alter the tax classification

Where is the courage? To challenge a taxation law which has stood for over 50 years relating to the taboo topic of periods.


Here at Corkscrew we love to celebrate Corkscrew Thinking across the globe. We’re looking for creative and courageous individuals, companies and educators and we want your help. If you think you’ve seen Corkscrew Thinking in action and would like to highlight the excellence then send us some details below. Please include as much information as possible such as web addresses, contact details and descriptions. If the Corkscrew Thinking in action you suggest is highlighted we’ll be sure to give you credit so leave your details too! 

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