You know what I’m sick of?
Paying extra for guacamole on my burrito, having Netflix ask me if I am ‘still watching’, and Twitter cutting me off at one hundred and forty characters.
Oh, I am also sick of dealing with the pink tax.
What is the Pink Tax? It is the gender biased consumer activity in which companies charge women more for certain products or services.
No, that’s crazy. How can society justify charging women, who earn 80 cents to every dollar earned by men, more for a product or service? Furthermore, how in the world could a company get away with charging women more than men for something that is essentially identical?!
Well, it’s called pink tax for a reason. Companies today ‘differentiate’ everyday products between genders by making products ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’. In product marketing, corporations often literally adopt a pink colour scheme in their products to target women.
Things like dry cleaning charges, personal hygiene products, aesthetics services and fashion all fall guilty to the pink tax. In 2010, Consumer Reports found that products for women (identified through name, description or packaging) cost up to fifty percent more than similar (sometimes nearly identical) products for men.
In 1996 California found women were, on average, spending an extra $1351 over men as a result of this gender biased consumer phenomenon. In a world where these same women are paid just 80% of their male counterparts, this practice is wholly unjust.
In 1996, California became the first state to ban gender pricing. New York City followed suit shortly after.
Last year, the French feminist collective Georgette Sand drew attention to the consumer injustice of gendered pricing. The petition, which denounced a French supermarket chain for increasing the price of goods marketed towards women, attracted over forty thousand signatures. In response to the collective, the Finance Ministry ordered an inquiry into possible price discrimination for all French retailers.
Currently in Canada there are no federal or provincial laws banning gender discrimination in the sale of goods and services, nor is there any tangible sign that we are headed in that direction.
Being a woman in North America has become increasingly expensive. Not only do we bear the bigger financial burden for everyday expenses like dry cleaning and deodorant, we also pay more for the big things. Regardless if we have stellar credit, stay healthy, and do our due diligence, women inevitably pay more for home mortgages, health insurance, and car repairs.
When buying health insurance on the individual market women face deplorable disparities. In most American states, nearly all the best selling plans charge women more than men for the same coverage. Research by the National Women’s Law Center shows that states without a ban on gender rating, 92% of the top medical plans charge women more even though the vast majority do not cover maternity services.
Women are also unfairly charged when it comes to car maintenance. Research performed by the online marketplace ClickMechanic, revealed that women pay an average of £45 more for car repairs than men. The study looked at 182 independent car shops in ten of the UK’s largest cities. Both men and women, acting as mystery shoppers, requested quotes to fix a malfunctioning clutch on 2011 Ford Focus. The results? Only six percent of garages gave the same quote to men and women. On average, the repair costs for men were approximately £571 compared to the £616 it cost women. For those of you who aren’t math majors, that’s an eight percent increase.
This is a ridiculous problem. Women are being marketed and sold identical products/services that cost more. Why? How?
Why? We know the why. Because gender stereotypes are entrenched in our society and corporations are capitalizing on this.
But how? Well, you can change the how. Corporations can only continue sexist pricing policies if people continue to buy based on gender, and if the government fails to impose relevant legislation banning gendered pricing on goods and services. So shout about it! Go on Twitter, use #pinktax, and snap some photos of all the ridiculous financial inequities of which women bear the burden.
If anything ever riles you up enough, a letter writing campaign is always a productive and proactive response. It is a great way to help fight for the protection of women’s economic equality. Better yet, why not give your friendly MP a phone call this Thursday afternoon?
There is ample room for Canadian women to petition the government for equitable consumer treatment in regards to buying gender targeted products. Although there is no Canadian law yet for bridging the gender gap, that doesn’t mean we can’t fight for one.