All around the world, women are up in arms about the recent revelation of yet another economic disadvantage given to our sex. It’s called the “Pink Tax”, meaning that the same products–even if they are made of virtually the same materials–have very different price tags, depending on which gender they’re designed for. A recent study done by New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that on average the same shampoo cost 48% more when packaged in “feminine” containers. Women’s razors also cost 11% more than men’s, and jeans are 10% pricier. The findings of this study ultimately suggest that women are paying thousands of extra dollars throughout their lives in order to buy the same things as men–simply because they are women, who want to consume products which they feel reflect that (Kottasova). This price difference is especially bad for women when you consider that as of 2016, women’s wages are already only make 79% of men’s when they have the same job (Hill).
Notice as well that all the products aforementioned with significant price differences between genders are necessities. A woman can’t function in polite society without having something to wash her hair in, and it’s expected that her shampoo with smell like something feminine, like fruit or flowers. We’re also expected to wear clothes that fit a woman’s body. In fact, when a woman wears clothes that don’t fit well, she is less likely to be taken seriously or be considered “professional” and much less likely to get a promotion (Goudreau). This would explain why women continue to buy these products despite the climbing prices–they need them, and not just to feel comfortable as a woman. Women need them in order to succeed at their very careers.
However, despite the apparent necessity, there’s nothing legally stopping women from buying men’s products, and there’s nothing illegal about men buying women’s. In other words, despite the price difference appearing sexist, there’s is nothing legally discriminatory about the gap, which means governments can’t regulate it, because no one’s breaking any laws or principles.
So what can we do? A number of women in the United Kingdom have already set an example for us. After discovering that a British pharmaceutical chain called Boots was selling the same products to women for 50% higher than they were selling them to men, UK women led an online campaign, during which thousands signed a petition in favor of closing the price gap. The petition also encouraged others to start boycotting the store, causing its profits to plummet. Eventually, Boots came out with new prices, all of which we equal between the genders (Kottasova).
I think what this shows is that women can effect change, and we don’t need our government’s help to do it. However, if we want it to work, we need to be organized and proactive, and to not shy away from tackling problems like this that present themselves to us. When it comes to creating social change, our mottos should always be: “If not now, when?” and “If not me, who?”
Goudreau, Jenna. “The Seven Ways Your Boss is Judging Your Appearance.” ForbesWoman. n.p. 30 Nov. 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
Hill, Catherine. “The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2016).” Economic Justice. AAUW, 2016. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
Kottasova, Ivana. “‘Pink Tax’ Angers Women from New York to London.” CNN Money. Cable News Network, 3 Feb. 2016. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.