The cost of living for women is significantly rising
Being a woman simply costs more. On average, women annually spend $1,351 more than men for the same merchandise and services—razors, shaving cream, shampoo, painkillers, haircuts, dry cleaning, and even children’s toys.
Many businesses, such as Walgreens, get away with charging about a dollar to two dollars more on women’s self-care products, and some even escalate to charging $49.99 for a pink scooter, in comparison to a $24.99 generic red scooter. In another scenario, Target branded shaving cream and razors showed a disparity of about twenty cents between the male and female counterparts.
To most people, this is a miniscule number. Why make a big deal out of a mere few cents? However, this money accumulates over time and makes the cost of living for women about 7% more than men. Throughout their lives, women lose approximately $100,000 to the “gender tax.” Cumulatively, it is one less house a woman is buying in the future. It is one less opportunity for education a woman is receiving.
Last year, Old Navy was confronted for charging more for women’s plus-sized clothing but not for men’s. The plus sized women’s jeans were $12-15 more than the standard-sized ones. Oddly enough, there was no such difference between the prices of men’s plus and regular-sized jeans. Gap, which owns Old Navy, released a statement that the additional cost was because they are created by a team of designers who are experts in developing the most flattering and on-trend plus styles, which includes curve-enhancing and curve-flattering elements such as four-way stretch materials and contoured waistbands, that most men’s garments do not include. Nonetheless, the words “flattering and on-trend” are not exactly the ones that spring to mind when I think of Old Navy. This claim conclusively stressed Old Navy’s avoidance of the gender pricing.
To make matters worse, women get the worser deal in old age as well. Supports and braces cost up to 12% more for women. At Target, the ITA-MED Rib Support for women costs $26.99, while an identical product for men costs $22.99.
Perhaps how we perceive female products could explain why there are gender-based markups. Many men’s products are often seen as generic and not necessarily restricted to the male gender, yet the women’s version—with its pink packaging—seems more of a specialty product. We are willing to pay more because we are under the false presumption that we are getting more.
Of course, individual consumers do have control over which products they buy. While the pink razors with the butterflies on the packaging may be marketed toward women, no one is forcing us to buy those over basic blue Bics. Marketing has deeply conditioned women to prefer the pink, flowery products targeted for the female population. Women are ultimately brainwashed by businesses, which results in them choosing products against their own best interests. However, the majority of women find some discernible appeal in the women’s products—be that different ingredients or cosmetic factors—that make them worth paying more for.
The Pink Tax is not just women’s media acting up. As of now, there are blossoming efforts to eradicate gender pricing, such as popular feminist Georgette Sand’s campaign to shed light on sexist pricing policies. Combating gender pricing is a key issue in the fight against inequality in our country. As if sexism, discrimination, and an infuriating 21% wage gap are not enough, this gender tax makes the cost of living for a woman flat-out simply more expensive.