What Is The Pink Tax And Why Should You Be Upset About It?

While writing a microeconomics essay for a summer class, I came across an article about the “Pink Tax.” I knew before reading this article that the Pink Tax existed and what it was, but I never realized how much it affects my life and my spending habits.

The Pink Tax is not really a tax, so much as an increase in price for items marketed toward women. That’s right ladies, you are being charged around 42 percent more for an item just because it is marketed toward your gender. You might have noticed this in the health and beauty aisle–the biggest offenders tend to be personal hygiene products like razors, shampoo and soap.

The idea behind the Pink Tax is a marketing design with the basic premise “shrink it and pink it” in order to make it more feminine. Again, the biggest offenders tend to be hygiene products, but this can also be applied to things like children’s bicycles and jeans. On average, women’s jeans cost about 10 percent more than men’s, and girl’s bicycles can cost around 6 percent more than boy’s bicycles. With many of these products, there is very little difference between the men’s version and the women’s version. Usually, the only difference is the color of product–blue for men and pink for women.

So, why are women being taxed more? When confronted with this question, large companies have given the answer that women’s products are more complicated and time-consuming to make. For example, women’s jeans tend to be more form-fitting and slender, which requires more hours of cutting and sewing. This extends to clothing services as well, such as dry-cleaning. On average, men spend $2.86 on dry-cleaning, while women spend $4.95. Dry cleaners claim that their machines are too powerful for the delicate fabrics in women’s clothes and that women’s items need to be hand-pressed.

Women also can be charged more than men for other services. Personally, I’m always nervous when I take my car into the shop for repairs. I know absolutely nothing about cars and it’s obvious to anyone in the repair shop–I’m always afraid that someone is going to take advantage of my lack of knowledge and charge me more than they would charge a man with the same car needing the same repairs. A study done by Northwestern showed that women who sounded clueless on the phone were given a repair estimate for $406 for a repair that generally costs $365. Men who sounded clueless on the phone were given an estimate of $383.

While the Pink Tax may seem like nickels and dimes, especially when the primary source of the problem is generally inexpensive personal hygiene products, women spend an average of $1351 a year in Pink Taxes. Why should women be upset about this? Women are generally making less than men in their same field, and yet women are paying more for certain products. Keep in mind, the Pink Tax refers to items that both men and women use, but the women’s version of the product is more expensive. This means that women-specific products like menstrual pads or tampons do NOT fall under the Pink Tax. These products are often grouped under another “tax” appropriately called the “tampon tax” because in some states, they are subject to state taxes, while most other hygiene products are exempt.

So, how do we combat the Pink Tax? For now, the cost-effective solution is to buy the less-expensive, just-as-useful men’s version of the product. For long-term solutions, turn to your local and state government. Many states have begun reversing the tampon tax and made feminine products tax-exempt, including New York as of July 2016. Calling out manufacturers who charge more for women’s products has also shown to be effective–there is an entire tumblr site devoted to bringing attention to the Pink Tax charged by Monoprix, a French company. The biggest impact we can have, women, men and all identifications on the gender spectrum, is not allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of in this way.
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