“The pink tax is not a one-time injustice. It’s an insidious form of institutionalized discrimination that affects women across the country from the cradle to the grave,” Rep. Speier said in a press release.
The pink tax refers to the practice of charging more for products marketed towards women, which are frequently pink, than the same products sold to men. It has existed since the tax system was drafted between 1930 and 1960. The pink tax is corrupt because it emphasizes gender discrimination in markets, women make less than their male counterparts, and legislature should be passed in order to ban manufacturers from up charging women’s products.
Critics would argue that it makes sense for women’s products to cost more, because they are willing to pay more. Economy expert Vanek Smith stated that “as women, we are told, like, before we can talk, you need to look this way and buy these things in order to, you know, have a good life and succeed. And so we’re all like, OK, we’ll do it.” Another argument that critics make is that the price discrimination of products allows for more variety in the market, and enables prices for other products to be lower.
Gender Discrimination in the Market
The pink tax deepens the divide among sexes. According to Utpal Dholakia gender-based versioning is like race-based versioning, sexual-orientation-based versioning, or religion-based versioning. There is something inherently unfair about using a broad brush-stroke categorization to systematically charge one large group of humans more money. When a product is labeled “for men” it is off putting for women and establishes a purchase barrier. Manufacturers place women’s products in pink or purple packaging, and include sweet scents to let women know that the product is geared towards them and not men.
There is no need for a price difference between men and women’s products that function the same. Karen Duffin argued that “the market values a particular good or service a certain way. That is the perfect price. And a more expensive product should have more features. It should be qualitatively different. But in the case of the deodorant and razors that we looked at, it is clear that women are not paying more because their version of the products are better. They’re paying more because of marketing.”
According to axthepinktax.com, the pink tax has cost a 30-year-old woman more than $40,000. A woman in her 60s will cough up nearly $82,000 in fees that men don’t have to pay. Currently no federal law prohibits companies from charging different prices for identical items based on gender. Gender based pricing extends beyond the pink tax as women have historically paid more for health insurance, or in the financial marketplace as they are more likely to be denied credit or have a higher interest rate to borrow.
Women make less than Men
Another argument against the pink tax is that women make less than their male counterparts. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women still only make about 80.5 cents for every dollar men make in the same occupation. According to the AAUW, the gender pay gap is the result of many factors, including occupational segregation, bias against working mothers, and direct pay discrimination.
Additionally, such things as racial bias, disability, access to education, and age come into play. Consequently, different groups of women experience very different gaps in pay. For example, the earnings as a percentage of white non-hispanic men, black women make only 62%, and Hispanic women 54%.
The underlying premise of the pink tax is on personal care items, which capitalizes on women. The argument that women are willing to pay more for a product is similar to the logic behind the idea in the wage gap. Women care more about personal care so will pay more, compared to women are willing to work for less, so pay them less.
Potential Equality through Legislation
The Pink Tax Repeal Act was introduced on April 3, 2019, by representative Jackie Speier. The bill’s purpose it to “prohibit the pricing of consumer products and services that are substantially similar if such products or services are priced differently based on the gender of the individuals for whose use the products are intended or marketed or for whom the services are performed or offered.”
The bill was introduced twice before in 2018 and 2016, but never received a vote, although the house was controlled by Republicans both times. Supporters of the bill argue that it levels the playing field, rather than economic punishment based on fixed characteristics.
Other Ways to Avoid the Pink Tax
According to Smartassest, there are ways to avoid the pink tax. The first is to identify which products are overpriced. Reports say that women tend to pay more for toiletries and household good, or services such as dry cleaning. Another way to avoid the pink tax is to skip certain name-brand products. As consumers we have a choice and sometimes the generic versions work just as well. A third option is to buy men’s products instead. Women shouldn’t spend their money on products targeted towards them if the male alternative does the same thing. The last option is to do comparison shopping. It may be best for consumers to look at other stores or at other brands that offer a similar product.
Brands such as Boxed and Billie, adjust the prices of personal care items to account for the pink tax. Companies even created a “pink tax free” section, listing all the products that are discounted to gender neutral prices. Sometimes companies offer a referral discount that is called the pink tax rebate.