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Pink Tax: The Extra Cost of Being a Woman

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Pink Tax: The Extra Cost of Being a Woman

Dealing with dismissive doctors, a confining Eurocentric beauty standard, social inequality, workplace harassment, and a glass ceiling are only a handful of the tribulations that accompany navigating this world as a woman.

Yet, ask any woman if they’d do it again next lifetime, and their answer would surely be yes. There’s a brilliant magnificence within girlhood, a feeling felt when we treat ourselves to a midday dessert, read a book that allows a great escape, belly laughing after boohoo crying with our best friend.

We power through the obstacles and discrepancies that come with being a woman, but while we celebrate our innate wins, it is important to keep being loud about inequities in order to continue moving toward a fairer future. Today’s topic: The Pink Tax. 

What Is the Pink Tax?

The Pink Tax refers to gender-based price discrimination, in which many products and services designed for women end up costing more than similar products and services designed for men. Though the Pink Tax isn’t a traditional “tax,” there are an overwhelming amount of studies that prove gender-based price disparities for goods and services are indeed real. 

After analyzing the prices of almost 800 products across 35 categories, researchers found that Pink Tax poisons beyond just shampoos and razors: women pay more for almost every product over the course of their entire lives, from children’s clothing to adult diapers.

It’s such a problem that states like California and New York enacted laws that prohibit gender-based price hikes on services like dry cleaners and hair salons, though there’s very little control over in-store products.

Pink Tax Examples

Any notch in a shopper’s lifetime will most likely reveal Pink Tax in action. Baby clothes for girls can cost up to 13% more than those for boys, while toys marketed to girls cost 11% more than those for boys, even when they’re the exact same toy in different colors. That clothing price difference carries over into adulthood. 

Beyond that, there is a huge leap noticed across most personal care products, with women’s shampoo products costing roughly 48% more than products marketed to men. Female senior citizens are still not exempt from the Pink Tax phenomenon, as body part braces for women cost 15% more than those for men, canes cost 12% more, and personal urinals are 21% more expensive. From girlhood to their elderly era, women are trapped in a vicious cycle of paying more for existing.

How Much More Expensive is it to be a Woman?

Averaged across a lifetime, women are paying roughly 7% more than men for comparable products. But beyond the Pink Tax, there are many other insidious ways women are scammed into sacrificing more: introducing, the time tax.

Time poverty studies reveal that there is an unaddressed Pink Tax on women’s time within a global epidemic of women lacking the opportunity to conduct everyday leisure activities. With more things to do and fewer minutes in their schedules to do them, men have, on average, 5 hours more leisure time per week than women. 

At work, besides her already assigned tasks, women are more often expected to take on “office housework”—necessary but non-promotable tasks like taking notes, training new hires, bringing in cake and holiday celebratory items, or getting coffees for the office. At home, childcare and chores devour any time or energy left over.

With a looming and constant pressure to be both busy and productive, women experience higher levels of time guilt, in addition to time judgment. For instance, a mom can be judged as a bad parent for spending too much time at work, or a bad employee for spending too much time at home.

Additionally, commonly known as the tampon tax, those in their fertile years are faced with the luxury tax levied on menstrual hygiene products. While other products are understood to be basic necessities, including groceries, prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, condoms, and erectile dysfunction pills (ahem), pads and tampons are thought to be a luxury. 

It’s often argued that menstrual hygiene products are basic necessities and that taxing them is an unconstitutional form of discrimination. Exempting menstrual hygiene products from tax by categorizing them as medical equipment or supplies would be game-changing to period product accessibility, though 21 U.S. states continue to levy taxes on menstrual hygiene products.

In November 2020, Scotland was the first country to pass legislation making menstrual hygiene products free. America has a long way to go. 

How Can I Avoid Pink Tax?

The best way to avoid Pink Tax is to stop having a period, boobs, hair, an enjoyment of anything even relatively feminine, etc. What we mean to say is, you probably can’t.

Currently, there’s no federal law prohibiting gender-based price discrimination. The 2021 Pink Tax Repeal Act sought to outlaw gender-based taxes, but the bill garnered little attention and was ultimately not enacted, just as similar bills introduced in the past have died.

When you can buy “men’s” products, do. And in the meantime, you can support #TaxJustice initiatives that aim to balance the equilibrium. Beyond that, continue to have these conversations, both with the people suffering from it and those benefiting from it. Have these conversations in the workplace, at the dinner table, over brunch, and on social media. But most importantly, have the conversation with yourself, and feel empowered to confront where and how you can reclaim your time—and your coin.

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