The pink tax: the price war on American women

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Simply being born a woman means that there are a variety of obstacles that often affect one’s daily life: discrimination, objectification, sexual assault, domestic violence and more. However, this constant injustice runs deeper than interpersonal and civil issues—it affects women’s financial stability and security as well. 

Increased prices on goods marketed primarily towards women is called the “pink tax,” according to a 2016 report from the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee. The extent of the tax is determined by comparing the prices from goods geared towards men to those geared towards women. These items are often thought of as personal care items like razors, soap, shampoo, body wash, deodorant and more, according to Business Insider. However, according to the congressional report, other consumer-gendered merchandise, like adult clothing and children’s toys, are affected by the pink tax, too. 

The pink tax is absolutely ridiculous and archaic. Why should I have to pay 7% more on average (according to Forbes) than a man for essentially the same product? Well, a journal article from the International Journal of Policy Sciences and Law defines the pink tax as “profit-maximizing strategies (whether intentional or unintentional) implemented by producers based on psychology, shopping behaviour, preferences and market trends compel the sale of products marketed to female consumers” and that “goods or services employed specifically by women bear an additional value-added tax (VAT) or sales tax to the price, reducing their accessibility reducing their accessibility to less economically-advantaged individuals.”

So, why do women have to pay more for products than men? Because companies know they will. This is much more than a simple issue of sexism—it is an issue regarding societal morals, corporate values and social responsibility.

Women around the globe are more likely to be in poverty than men for a myriad of reasons, according to the nonprofit organization The Borgen Project. These reasons include lack of education, wage gaps, period poverty, exploitation, domestic obligations and more. Charging women more for products marketed towards them will only make the women who are struggling to make ends meet have an even harder time—even if the pink tax on an item is 50 cents more. Women already have it tough enough.

The pink tax is just one more hardship to add to women’s lives as a result of misogyny and sexism. Data from a 2019 United States Census Bureau survey revealed that there is a difference of $10,150 more in the average yearly wage of men compared to women. It is even higher in the State of Indiana at $12,460. The United Nations reported in 2020 that, “Around one-third of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner…In the most extreme cases, violence against women is lethal: globally, an estimated 137 women are killed by their intimate partner or a family member every day.” The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics also reported that women are more likely than men to spend their time caring for children as “their main activity.” 

There is no morally sound reason to charge women and girls more for basic necessities and products than men. And, if one thinks about it, women who are financially tied to men in marriages or families still have to pay the pink tax! This means that the extra cost can—and does—affect men as well. Big corporations need to consider basic human rights more than they do their profit margin; they will survive the extra cost, but women may not.

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