The Pink Tax: Why It Proves Sexism in Consumerism, and Why We Haven’t Noticed It.

The Pink Tax: Why It Proves Sexism in Consumerism, and Why We Haven’t Noticed It.

Sol Y., Journalist

It was almost exactly two centuries ago, in 1920, that the Woman’s Suffrage Movement won their hard-earned battle: women were finally given the right to vote. 

We’ve come a long way since then, decreasing the pay gap between men and women, establishing roles for women in the workplace, and raising awareness of women’s rights issues across the country. 

However, we have not yet rid ourselves of the sexism that’s plagued our nation since its birth. In particular, women are faced with a predicament called the pink tax: an issue that most women aren’t even aware of. 

The pink tax is a trick that huge retail companies use to exploit female shoppers. In general, stores price items that are marketed towards women higher than they do products marketed towards men or towards both genders. Women’s razors, for example, are generally 15 percent more expensive than men’s razors and can be up to 40  percent more expensive at times. And while these increased prices may not be noticeable at first, after a lifetime of spending, the pink tax can result in the loss of thousands and thousands of dollars. 

In 2015, the DCA (New York City Department of Consumer Affairs), conducted an experiment. They calculated the average price of 800 articles of clothing such as dress shirts and pants for each gender.  Then, they compared the final prices between men’s and women’s clothes. Women’s clothing, on average, costs eight percent more than men’s clothing. More specifically, shirts were revealed to cost 15 percent more, and dress shirts 13 percent more. 

The same experiment was done on toys, and researchers found similar results. On average, toys marketed to girls cost around seven percent more than toys marketed to boys. 

Sadly, it is impossible to discuss the pink tax without covering the luxury tax. The luxury tax is a tax placed on “luxury” items, such as jewelry, furs, private jets, and yachts. Basically, the luxury tax is placed on items that have been deemed “nonessential.” Although at first it may not be apparent, the luxury tax places another unfair financial burden on women. The aforementioned luxury tax also covers feminine hygiene products, such as tampons and pads. Yeah, I’ll give you a second to reread that. The idea that these necessary products are taxed as a luxury item, or just taxed at all, is ridiculous. Even worse, there are many other gender-neutral items that are not subject to the luxury tax, such as sunscreen, anti-dandruff shampoo, and, depending on the state, men’s razors and hair gel. It is unfair that these items which are in no way comparable to the necessity of pads and tampons do not have a luxury tax placed on them. All this to say that if the amount of money lost to the pink tax isn’t concrete enough, the unfair luxury tax on feminine hygiene products makes it overwhelmingly official. 

The pink tax earned its name from the idea that pink is a feminine color, and so most female products would be pink. Whether it be an extra five dollars for a pink helmet or an extra ten for a pink bike, the prices started adding up. 

Believe it or not, before the 40s, pink had been established as a male color, and blue had been established as more feminine. 

Pink had been known as a ‘strong’ color that matched brown eyes, and therefore was assigned to boys. Meanwhile, blue was seen as dainty and soft, which matched blonde hair, therefore it was assigned to girls. This all changed in the 40s when girls were reassigned the color pink because pink was closer to red and red was seen as more ‘romantic’ and ‘emotional’ of a color. When this new color trend emerged, marketing companies leaped at the opportunity to make a profit. 

The marketing of pink items to girls begins at a very young age, with pink clothes, socks, and milk bottles, but continues well into adulthood. The pink tax can be found on everything and anything you can gender, for example on calculators, razors, clothes, and towels. It is important to note that the pink tax doesn’t apply only to pink products. Rather, the pink tax applies to any products marketed towards women. If an item is advertised to women, odds are it’s heavily taxed. 

The worst part is, most women aren’t even aware that the pink tax is a problem they face on a day-to-day basis. The increased product costs have been buried and kept quiet by the very same companies that add up the price of items marketed to women.

Now, thankfully, there are a few ways that you can help combat this issue. Of course, the first step to solving any problem is by recognizing it. Bringing attention to the issue is a good start. And there are dozens of stores that are advocating against the pink tax with gender-neutral pricing. Shopping in these stores could not only fuel the feminist movement but also save some money as well. And hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have been a little more informed about the pink and luxury tax, and what it means for feminism around the nation. 

All views expressed in this article belong to the journalist and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Ottoson Insider.