Most of the time, running an errand for my fiancé earns me an appreciative peck on the cheek. This time, it also exposed systemic sexism.
Mario was running late at the office so I offered to pick up his dry cleaning in addition to mine.
His: Three dress shirts and a pair of trousers made of a blend of polyester and cotton.
Mine: A simple (but nice) pink poly-cotton blend cocktail dress.
I was surprised and annoyed to find that the total cost of his bill for four items was $5. My single dress, which was no more delicate or voluminous than his pants alone, was $8.
The Pink Tax
You might not be surprised to learn that women spend more money per year than men do on personal care. What is surprising is that it isn’t only because we are buying more products, or even because we buy fancier products; nearly identical products made and marketed for women cost more than those made and marketed for men.
Take razors for instance. A women’s Gillette Venus razor blade is nearly identical to the men’s Gillette Mach 3 razor blade: same plastic housing, same three blades, same moisturizing pad. They’re so identical, in fact, that each cartridge will fit the other’s handles. The only difference is that the women’s version comes in colors like pink, lilac, and sea foam green.
Despite these similarities, at Walmart, the women’s razor costs $16.47 for a four-pack, while the men’s version is just $14.47 — for a five-pack.
Advertising agencies have increasingly targeted women, and companies have capitalized on our spending habits — whether by playing on our insecurities or convincing us we deserve to treat ourselves, even though the product is the same. And women have gotten so used to it that we just accept that our products are supposed to cost more.
Studies show that the average woman may be paying nearly $1,400 more a year in extra costs and fees, based on the prices of typical household items.
Here’s how I avoid the pink tax
Buy men’s products when you can.
When it comes to athletic gear, I always check the boys section — boys’ running shoes are about half the price of the ones I find in the women’s section. The same goes for plain t-shirts.
While it’s understandable that you might not want to trade the powder fresh scent of your deodorant for a musky men’s Old Spice just yet, switching to men’s razors, shave soap, pens, and other items will give you the same experience for less money.
Or you can do what I do sometimes to save 100% — steal your boyfriend’s stash 😛