Take a mental stroll through your preferred drugstore. Shop for your daily necessities—shampoo, razors, face wash. You might not consider the varying prices too much, that is until you compare the female-oriented products versus the male-oriented products. And note that your pink Venus razors cost more than the dark blue Gillette razors (despite them being otherwise the same… and from the same company). Chances are, if you identify as a woman, you have come across the issue of the pink tax.
A study conducted by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs concluded that products marketed towards women cost seven percent more than the same products marketed towards men. And “of the 35 categories analyzed, women’s products cost more 42 percent of the time, while men’s were more expensive only 18 percent of the time.”
From a female-identifying standpoint, it’s difficult to understand why you should even bother buying female-coded products if the male-coded products work just as well and are noticeably cheaper. But it’s also difficult to understand why companies feel the need to differentiate between female and male products. A report from NPR’s “Planet Money” explains that some economists believe the pink tax creates variety in the marketplace and allows for the prices of some products to be lower. However, the same report argues that companies have effectively manipulated customers to the point of creating an unbalanced market.
The issue of the pink tax ultimately comes back to society’s beliefs about gender. There’s an unspoken rule that female-identifying folk must purchase items that are pink, smelling of roses and keen to current beauty standards, while male-identifying folk must buy products that can cut through a grizzled beard and smell like riding a bear down a mountain. These beliefs are so ingrained in our society that it becomes difficult to push back and deviate from the norm, which gives companies room to profit.
So far, the pink tax might just seem like an inconvenience. Something that keeps you from enjoying both value and a favorite scent. However, the pink tax affects parts of life that are less optional. In the United States, women and those with a vagina have to pay more for having a period. Simply put, pads and tampons are taxed not as necessities, but as luxuries. This goes beyond a branding issue and puts a monetary hindrance and obligation on those that bleed each month. Many other countries have worked to remove or counteract the taxes on feminine hygiene products, but the U.S. has yet to make any changes to assist those that require these necessary, not luxurious, products.
Currently, there aren’t many options for circumventing the pink tax, and even less to appeal to U.S. and state governments. The best thing consumers can do is protest with their dollar. Purchase male-marketed products when possible, and support brands that push against biased luxury taxes.
Yes It Is More Expensive To Be A Woman. Here’s Why
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