Gather round, you brilliant budgeting baby bears, while I ‘splain you one of the greatest economic injustices known to womankind: the Pink Tax. Yes, once again sexism is rearing its ugly head and unnecessarily cocking up our financial goals. Try not to act so surprised.
Did you know that women pay more for imported products than men do? How about personal hygiene and self care products? Healthcare? Dry cleaning? It’s true, and this cost discrepancy is known as the Pink Tax.
What is the Pink Tax?
The Pink Tax is the fancy nomenclature we use to refer to the phenomenon that women pay more for certain goods and services than men pay for virtually identical goods and services. In fact, Consumer Reports has found that womanly products—those packaged in pink, named something flowery, and scented like cotton candy and happiness—can cost up to 50% more than the versions of those products marketed to men.
It’s almost as if there’s a tax on being a woman. A Pink Tax, if you will. (Because women’s products are overwhelmingly packaged in pink, not because pink is inherently feminine or anything. Boys can wear pink too. We’re not about to enforce societal gender norms here at Bitches Get Riches.)
What’s affected by the Pink Tax? Everything from personal hygiene products like shampoo and deodorant, to medicine like pain relievers. Even services like dry cleaning, car maintenance, and hair cuts, according to a study by the University of Central Florida. More insidiously, import tariffs are higher for women’s products than for men’s. See, for example, lawyer Michael Cone’s fight to figure out why men’s imported sneakers are taxed at 8.5% while women’s are taxed at a whopping 10%. And it all starts at childhood. Kids’ toys cost more when they’re pink than when they’re blue. That is quite literally a tax on the color pink.
Look! There’s even a whole Tumblr dedicated to documenting this injustice. And you know if something’s a Tumblr, it’s legit.
Sure, a dollar here and there tacked on to your weekly foraging errands doesn’t seem so bad. But it fucking adds up. According to Forbes, the unnecessary price gouging of gendered products costs women about $1,400 per year. That’s $1,400 per year womanly types could be socking away to save up for a down payment on a house, or putting toward their student loan debt, or using for Very Important Stuff, like cute holiday outfits for their dogs!
But instead it’s spent on the luxury of pink razorblades and deodorant that mercifully doesn’t smell like “Bearglove,” whatever the fuck that is, Old Spice.
Why is the Pink Tax a thing?
I mean, there are definitely some products and services women feel they need that men just don’t: gynecological appointments, cosmetics, certain hair products, waxing, etc. (Though if you’re a fabulous member of the male gender and you feel like treating yourself to some baller winged falsies, shimmery lip gloss, or peep-toe pumps, let nothing—least of all societally accepted gender norms—stand in your way!)
But that logic falls apart when you realize that there are some things that all humans need, regardless of their gender identity. Shampoo, deodorant, soap, hair cuts: these are the products that disproportionately fall victim to the horrors of the Pink Tax.
They’re the same exact thing
The simplest explanation would be that it just costs more to make women’s products than it does to make their masculine versions (so stop whining, you high-maintenance harpies). Which is probably why, when questioned by Consumer Reports, a bunch of manufacturers totally went with that excuse.
Except not-even-very-close analysis revealed that for one manufacturer of antiperspirants who claimed, “They are completely different formulations,” the two gendered products were made with the exact same percentages of the exact same ingredients. So I’m calling bullshit.
Similarly, Consumer Reports found that Walgreens priced Excedrin Complete Menstrual (a product name that might make women think, “This must be specific to menstrual cramps, which are a horrible part of my life that I neither asked for nor want! I should buy this instead of the kind that doesn’t have the word ‘menstrual’ on the bottle”) 50 cents higher than Excedrin Extra Strength (a product men would naturally eat like candy because EXTRA and STRENGTH), even though both contained the exact same ingredients in the exact same quantities. If, blinded by the nausea and pain of menstrual cramps, you weren’t looking too closely, it would be really fucking easy to just grab the over-priced, Special Blood-in-the-Panties Edition of the drug instead of saving yourself some money by throwing gender considerations to the wind.
They’re basically the same products, just packaged in pink and smelling of daffodils rather than “Krakengard” (seriously, Old Spice?). So there really is no legitimate reason to price them differently, is there?
Unless you consider blatant fucking sexism to be a legitimate reason, of course.
For your reading pleasure, here’s more of our thoughts on blatant fucking sexism:
- 1 Easy Way All Allies Can Help Close the Gender and Racial Pay Gap
- One Reason Women Make Less Money? They’re Afraid of Being Raped and Killed.
- Our Single Best Piece of Advice for Women (and Men) on International Women’s Day
- Sexual Harassment: How to Identify and Fight It in the Workplace
- Coronavirus Reveals America’s Pre-existing Conditions, Part 2: Racial and Gender Inequality
The evidence, ladies and gentlemen of the jury
But did I just trust the studies of people smarter than me who have spent decades researching this capitalist phenomenon? Nay! I hit the pavement to see for myself what this supposed Pink Tax was all about.
How I wish I could hide you from the proof, dear reader. I wish I could shield your innocent eyes from this ugly world in which women pay top dollar to smell like Japanese cherry blossoms while men get a discount for smelling like “Wolfthorn” (COME ON).
Alas, I have a duty to my beloved readers. Feast your eyes upon this gross miscarriage of pricing.
I went to my local supermarket to find the glaring truth of the Pink Tax staring me in the eyes. As you can see, Degree deodorant for women is priced at $4.27 while the men’s version is priced at $2.49. That’s a difference of $1.78 for the privilege of smelling conventionally feminine.
And my local dry cleaner? They charge $9 for men’s button-up dress shirts and $10 for women’s. Which, like… why??? I asked my hairstylist friend (the one I friend-trade babysitting for hair cuts with) how much she charges for women versus men. It was a difference of about $30 in men’s favor. All of which was really demoralizing. I’ve been losing money on dumb life-maintaining errands.
Alas, is there any escape from the wicked, Beargloved hand of the patriarchy?
What can we do?
Currently, there are no federal laws banning gender discrimination in the sale of goods and services. Efforts to sue the government based on the whole import tariffs thing have been unsuccessful. The Pink Tax Repeal Act has seemingly gone nowhere so far. So as usual, we lady types are unlikely to get help in the form of government regulations.
But we’ve been working on the problem of sexism for decades, if not centuries by now, so if this isn’t my hill to die on then I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS.
Shopping in the men’s section is of course an option. One feminist did so, with hilarious results. Personally, I’d rather not smell like “Hawkridge Wild Collection,” (I can’t even, Old Spice, I CANNOT EVEN). But sacrifices must be made in the name of the matriarchy!
Or you could seek out brands that don’t have a price difference between their gendered products. That would require a little legwork, but you ain’t afraid of no research, are you? Even better, there’s this new thing called the EDGE Certification, which is basically a consumerist Seal of Feminism. Any products sporting the EDGE Certification are making a conscious effort not to discriminate in their pricing or quality between the genders.
We could also actively boycott the most egregious offenders. Show them that we will have gender equality in our morning ablutions, or nothing at all! Lead a smelly feminist revolution! I, for one, am all about encouraging companies to believe there is a power-lady cabal out there that they need to placate and target with their marketing and pricing if they hope to be profitable.
Or I could just learn to love smelling like “Bearglove” and call it a day. I think I’ll try that.
24 thoughts to “The Pink Tax, or: How I Learned To Love Smelling Like Bearglove”
YASSSSSS. I love everything about this. And omg, I have so many friends who buy men’s deodorant because it is cheaper and stronger (as we are sweaty humans).
Thank you so much! And right??? I am serious about this Bearglove business. It’s growing on me. Like a fungus.
I just want to say how much I love your and Kitty’s articles – this is one of my fav PF blogs – the writing is amazing.
Also, I live in Calgary, AB, Canada and just spoke with my doctor about the cost of an IUD – can be anywhere between $150-$350 depending on whether I get the non-hormonal or hormonal version – but the price for my fiancé (a man) to get a vasectomy?… it’s 100% covered under Alberta healthcare – like seriously wtf. The patriarchy at work I tell ya!!!
Wahhhh, that’s so sweet! Thank you so much, you beautiful Canadian wildflower! And we freaking FEEL YOU on the IUD sitch!! We have so, so many friends who’ve taken the plunge recently, many due to fear of rising cost under our openly chauvinist administration… Which is… Fucking dark… Well, as we all know, peens are v v v important, and unwanted pregnancy is God’s lil’ finger-wag to sluts! Bless the misogynist insurance actuaries or whoever the fuck cleared THAT up.
Holy WOW what a nice thing to say. Thank you so much!!! And I am righteously furious on your behalf because of the IUD situation. WHAT IS THIS SEXIST INJUSTICE?!
As a white man, I didn’t know if I should really wade into this conversation too much as I am sure I can’t really say, “oh, I know how you feel.”
I was completely naïve to the deodorant and women’s show tariffs. Seems like a real dick move. Might I recommend ‘Fiji”. It smells like Palm Trees. Sunshine. Freedom. My wife is welcome to wear it any day.
I have spent some time reading your blog today and have to say it is awesome. The gifs are great and I enjoy the writing styles. Following for sure.
Hopefully I can add some better commentary in the future, for now I guess sorry men can be huge assholes.
Cameron, you are ALWAYS welcome to wade into our conversations, no matter how filled with righteous feminist fury they are. 😉 And thank you so much for reading! I really admire your blog, so your kind words have me all starstruck and blushing.
You might already know this, but i was outraged this weekend to learn that even quality in kids’ clothing is hugely gendered: http://www.parent.co/5-unexpected-gender-differences-in-childrens-clothing/
Wuuuuuuut. That is so fucked up! I immediately shared this with my sister in law, who has a 1-year-old boy. She shot back with a picture of two T-shirts she’d recently purchased him. The boy T-shirt was pretty standard, while the girl T-shirt flared out at the waist and had a lower neckline and shorter sleeves. Both fit her son, both are blue. But babies don’t give a crap and they’re not exactly shaped differently at that age, so why enforce this ridiculous gendering of clothing???
I know this is an old post, but I just discovered your blog and I love it. Just sayin’, Wolfthorn smells like candy and has been ranked on a few lists of women’s favourite deodorants, including mine. I’ll leave the powder fresh stuff to someone else, thanks. It’s also easier to find deodorant (vs. anti-perspirant) marketed at men then women, because we are apparently all afraid to sweat.
Thank you so much! And I’m gonna have to try Wolfthorn. I’m getting too used to Bearglove… need to mix up my supposed masculine scents.
This is me entirely. I buy the wolfthorn one because as I tell my husband, “it smells like gummy candies!” and ladies deodorant without the anti-persperant is expensive and limited. I do admit to enjoying the names and designs of that old spice collection.
Coming in WAY after the fact (I only recently discovered this amazing little feminist corner of the interwebz!), but:
There’s a new company online called Native (www.nativecos.com) that has anti-perspirant free deodorant that a) isn’t stupidly expensive (for deodorant-without-all-the-cancer-causing-chemicals); b) actually WORKS (tested in the Houston summer by a woman whose superpower is the ability to sweat); and c) comes in scents that work for everyone, like Coconut & Vanilla or Cucumber & Mint. (They also have fun seasonal scents, and a handful that are more typically feminine, like lavender or rose; I’m currently rocking Blackberry something-or-other, which was one of the seasonal scents.)
Actually there’s one from the Cursed Old Spice called Wolfthorn and I love it with a passion benedict cumberbatch it smells Just Like lemon candy
I almost deleted this as spam, because it feels like I’m being subliminally influenced to think about Benadryl Cucumberpatch.
Hate hate hate the Pink Tax. My husband and I happen to be the same size – I mean, same weight/height/waist size/leg length/upper body (except for the boobies). We buy most of our clothes and shoes in the same shops, in exactly the same size and from the mens’ department since it’s much better quality and cheaper than the ladies dept. I refuse to pay for dry cleaning since it’s a pink tax laden scam: I’ve been told that I have to pay more to get a white cotton shirt cleaned than he did when he brought the EXACT SAME SHIRT in! Ridiculous! As a broad shouldered, tall-ish woman with big, wide feet living a casual, west coast lifestyle this strategy works for me, but the whole system needs to change.
And I’ve expanded my Pink Tax boycott to toiletries in the last year or so – body wash, shampoo, deodorant and the rest. Not only are the prices lower, but the container sizes are bigger, which makes the price difference even more egregious. Gah!
*stomps off in my manly steel toed boots*
I freaking hate the pink tax. And can I just say that I’m a big believer that beer prices vs. wine prices (purchased at a restaurant or bar) are also subject to the pink tax. IT’S total BULLSHIT!
Personally I really like Hawkridge by Old Spice, and it’s my deodorant of choice XD I keep begging them to do a more feminine line, though, because I think Old Spice would actually be one of the few companies that could do the deeper floral scents that I like. Alas, my Tweets have gone unanswered. How sad.
Kitty uses Hawkridge too! I’ve been doing my Bearglove for a while now.
THIS THIS THIS. (though I actually like Krakengard. Yes I want to smell like a powerful mysterious ocean being, not just men want that)
It is so frustrating to see every day out there. I’m buying more and more men’s products because they’re cheaper.
I will say that I bought a new brand of men’s deodorant because I needed one in a travel size, and hoooo boy that stuff may as well have been a white rock sculpted into the shape of deodorant by a malevolent trickster god. I had to walk around the hotel room with it tucked under my arm to warm it up enough to spread. OLD SPICE OR BUST!!
As a father to two young daughters, I have experienced the pink tax when purchasing toys and clothes. As a man, I struggle with the lack of options. You’d think that with all of the competition in the space, prices would be lower…
Right? Why isn’t competitive pricing taking care of this issue??? Your daughters are lucky to have a dad like you. 🙂
I happened to see this on a tumblr reblog. Oh do I have thoughts on this.
But for me personally, I’ve also found that men’s deodorant straight up just works better for me than women’s deodorant. Particularly ones without aluminum. Three cheers to no more clothes ruined by pit stains! Whomp whomp, when I discovered women’s aluminum free deodorant did not do its job. I tried Old Spice and I’ve never gone back. I’ve talked to a few other women who’ve found the same thing.