Shrink It And Pink It

Shrink It And Pink It

It's not just the wage gap that is hurting women's wallets.
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Even in the 21st century, gender inequality continues to persist in our society. From the pay gap to discrimination in sports, women are no strangers to being treated differently -- and not in a good way. We are all well-aware of many sexist injustices, but there is another lesser-known disparity to add to the pile: gendered pricing.

Between cosmetics and tampons (not the mention the absurd luxury tax on tampons), women already spend more than men on health and beauty products. But because of gendered pricing -- the way women's products are priced differently from men's -- women are paying even more. A study by the California Assembly’s in the mid-1990s found that women, on average, spend $1,351 per year in extra costs tacked on solely because of their gender. Upon this discovery, California became the first state to ban gendered pricing with the passage of the Gender Tax Repeal Act of 1995; however, those of us who do not live in California are still forced to deal with the issue.

The current argument is that it is simply costlier to manufacture and market women's goods: That "feminine" floral fragrances are more expensive to produce than scents for men, and the production women's clothes requires a higher degree of sewing finesse. When companies were asked why there was a difference in price, one spokesperson from a deodorant company told Consumer Reports that the products are “completely different formulations,” with differences in packaging. It didn't seem to matter to them that the brand's deodorant contained the same ingredients and percentages; further research by the University of Central Florida in 2011 found that the only difference between the deodorants was the scent. A quick scan of CVS Pharmacy found that Degree Men Sport Antiperspirant and Deodorant costs $3.79 for 2.7 ounces, while its "feminine" counterpart, Degree MotionSense Antiperspirant and Deodorant costs $5.49 for 2.6 ounces. This common occurrence is a prime example of the marketing mantra "shrink it and pink it," a strategy in which everyday products are produced in various shades of pink and made smaller for women to use; however, this usually means that women end up purchasing smaller amounts of product at a higher price. This method is implemented with products such as razors, earbuds, tool boxes and even pens such as Bic's pink and purple pens "for her" (“I know you’re thinking, ‘It’s about time!’ ” Ellen DeGeneres snarked. “Can you believe this? We’ve been using man pens all these years!”)

Deodorant and pens aside, there are thousands of other items that are sold at a higher cost for women. As Consumer Reports found, manufacturers "across the board" insisted that this is just the way things are, once again claiming that it's more expensive to make products for women. It is an accepted practice at this point. Over the course of their lives, women will pay more for everyday items 42 percent of the time, despite the fact that we make less money than men.

“You’re basically squeezing women and families from both ends of the stick,” Anna Chu, Vice President for Income Security and Education at the National Women’s Law Center said. “You’re squeezing them at their cost of living, and you’re squeezing them at the wage end, too.”

One prime example is clothing. Old Navy came under fire in 2014 when a customer named Renee Posey went to its website and noticed that plus-sized women's jeans cost $12 to $15 more. When she checked the prices for plus-sized men's jeans, she found that the price was the same as with regular-sized jeans.

"I was fine paying the extra money as a plus-sized woman, because, you know, more fabric equals higher cost of manufacture," Posey wrote on a petition on Change.org, which has since drawn 95,545 signatures. "However, selling jeans to larger-sized men at the same cost as they sell to smaller men not only negates the cost of manufacture argument, but indicates that Old Navy is participating in both sexism and sizeism, directed only at women."

According to trade lawyer Michael Cone, the issue begins right when the clothing is imported into the United States. When looking through a list of tariffs, Cone found that tariffs in the United States differed across gender lines. Men's sneakers, for example, were taxed at 8.5 percent while women's sneakers were taxed at ten percent. Not every tax he found was in favor of men, he did find that women were susceptible to higher taxes on good imported into the United States at a higher volume.

Dry cleaners are another place that women routinely pay more for clothes and the same service. In 2009 New York resident Janet Floyd decided to survey dry cleaners after she and her husband brought their nearly identical shirts to be laundered in Chelsea and found that hers cost $1.75 more to be cleaned than her husband's; she found that when it came to laundering, men paid an average of $2.86 per shirt compared to the $4.95 women paid. Even President Obama weighed in on the issue. In 2014, the Washington Post reported that he told a group of women gathered at the White House for a pay equity event, "We'll talk about dry cleaners next, right, because I know that — I don't know why it costs more for Michelle's blouse than my shirt."

But almost nothing elucidates the absurdity of gender pricing as vividly as the cost of children’s toys. An analysis by pricing consultancy Boomerang Commerce found that simply being pink is likely to add to the price of a toy sold by online retailers. The analysis, which looked at products sold by Target, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Bloomingdales, Amazon and Walmart, found that the average differential for all pink vs. non-pink items was between two percent and 15 percent, depending on the retailer. It is important to mention that While the analysis focused on the color rather than gender-orientation of the items, the two factors are clearly related; the packaging on the majority of the pink toys analyzed show a young girl playing with the item, while the blue toys show a young boy. Even a quick search of Amazon.com can demonstrate the price disparities between toys marketed towards girls and toys marketed towards boys. As of August 28, JOON's Huge Teddy Bear-Blue costs $49.00, while its pink counterpart costs $54.95. Radio Flyer's My First Scooter, Red costs $31.96 while its My First Scooter, Pink costs $35.00. This evidence is more than anecdotal and less than unsurprising: A 2015 study conducted by New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs found that girl’s toys cost more 55 percent of the time, and that girl’s clothes cost more 26 percent of the time. General toys were found to cost around eleven percent more for girls than boys.

While there still seems to be a long way to go on the path to eradicating the concept of unfair gender pricing, newfound awareness of the issue is a big step along the way. On July 8, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced the Pink Tax Repeal Act—a bill that would prohibit companies from charging different prices for similar products or services simply based on the gender of the customer. Consumers Union, the advocacy and policy arm of Consumer Reports, along with the Consumer Federation of America and other organizations supports the legislation. The bill is currently in the process of being considered by a congressional committee. In the meantime, consumers can contribute to the effort by voting with their dollars.

“Fundamentally, I don’t think retailers are going to change their behavior until we change our buying behavior,” said Jenn Steele, the director of product marketing at the consumer data firm Indix. “If the pink is more expensive, don’t buy it. Buy the green! Green is cheap. Awesome.”

Calling-out companies and spreading awareness of specific inequities in pricing (like this French Tumblr account has done) is another prime way to bring attention to inequality and expedite policies to close the pricing gap.

With public support, a future where men and women are treated equally as consumers may not be too far away.

Cover Image Credit: Money Tips

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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This is Cyntoia Brown And THIS is Why She Deserves To Be Freed, Immediately

A glimpse inside the incarceration of a Tennessee woman who was sentenced to life behind bars for killing a pedophile who solicited her for sex.

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In 2004, Cyntoia Brown, a Tenessee woman, was sentenced to life in prison for killing a man who solicited her for sex when she was only 16 years old. Now, 14 years later, the court has ruled that she must serve 51 years in prison before she is eligible for parole.

So, what happened to Brown all those years ago? Brown says at the time of the murder, she was living with her abusive boyfriend who would often physically and sexually abuse her, force her to sell sex for money, and pump her full of drugs to make her more controllable.

Brown was picked up on the side of the road by a 43-year-old insurance agent named Johnny Mitchell Allen. Allen brought Brown to his home, showed her his extensive gun collection, and then came onto Brown. Brown then resisted Allen's sexual advances. After being rejected, Allen reached below his bed. Brown assumed he was reaching for a gun, and then shot Allen with her own gun out of fear of being shot herself. On the morning of the shooting, Brown's abusive boyfriend advised her that she better come home with money that day. Out of fear of her boyfriend, Brown then stole money from the dead man's wallet and left the home.

Since then, prosecutors have argued that Brown's intentions were to rob this man from the very beginning, though Brown and her lawyers insist that the shooting was done out of self-defense. It's worth noting that Tennessee law states that any sex work done by minors is ruled sex slavery. Brown was 16 years old, and practically in the custody of a man who is said to have repeatedly raped and solicited her to have sex with other men for money. She was under the control of someone stronger and more threatening than herself. She was scared and did what she thought she had to do to make it out of that situation alive.

I'm in no way condoning murdering someone. It's just pretty appalling to me how courts are so quick to send this woman to prison for the rest of her life when proven sexual predators like Brock Turner are given six-month sentences and only made to serve three for raping an unconscious woman in a park. How in the world does shooting a pedophile out of self-defense warrant a more severe punishment than raping a defenseless woman? Does this make sense to anyone? If so, please enlighten me.

Now, people across the country are pleading Tennessee governor Bill Haslam to grant Brown clemency before his term is up in a few weeks. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Rihanna have shared their sympathy for Brown on social media, which has garnered a lot of publicity from a younger demographic.

On Monday, Governor Haslam gave a speech on education at the Nashville Public Library. After being asked about the amount of justice within Brown's case, Governor Haslam said: "We're reviewing a lot of cases, and while Cyntoia's case has gotten a lot of publicity, I don't think you want us to treat her's any different than a whole lot of cases that I think people want us to review."

Haslam said everyone in his office is looking very deeply into Brown's case and he will make a decision on whether or not to grant Brown clemency before his term is up in a few weeks.

Haslam's conservative reputation could be impacted by his potential decision to show Brown mercy. It all comes down to how he wants to be remembered as a governor. My hope is that justice is shown and that Brown is treated as a victim of sex-slavery, rather than a killer and a thief. No person should be sent to a life behind bars for trying to defend themselves.

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