By Emily Bettridge / Guest Opinion
Early in my college years, when I started making my own money and paying for my own necessities, I quickly learned that men’s disposable razors were cheaper than the pink ones designed for women.
“What’s the difference?” I asked myself one day and grabbed a pack of blue razors. Lo and behold, they worked the same. Women are annually paying about $1,351 more than men on products and services of similar value.
If you don’t think you are part of the population falling prey to marketers’ attempts at making more money off you, purely because you’re a woman … think again. This ranges from the dreaded trip to the auto mechanic, to dry cleaning services, personal care items and even toys. Why? Because they can, and because it is working.
Pink tax. Chick tax. Whatever you call it, it literally costs more to be a female consumer in today’s world, and when you think about how women make about 80.5 cents to every dollar a man makes, it becomes an even worse phenomenon.
The website, AxThePinkTax.com, has a calculator where you can enter your date of birth and it will compute how much extra money you — and your parents, in the case of toys and children’s clothing — have spent on this Pink Tax. I’m 26; my estimate is $36,131.
Here are some things I could have done with $36,131:
- A four-year degree at the University of Iowa for an in-state resident is about $37,968.
- A 2018 Lexus NX costs about $36,735.
- The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $33,391. You could even spring for the prettier venue or the more expensive photographer.
- An employee making $16.82 per hour is making about $35,000 per year.
There have been casual attempts by the government to fight unfair price discrimination, such as California’s threat of a minimum fine of $1,000 for businesses who charge women more.
The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs did a study in 2015 titled, “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer.” This study compared nearly 800 products with a clear “boy” or “girl” version to see the disparities in pricing between the two. Pink products and services were, on average, 7 percent more expensive than blue.
Now that your blood is boiling, let’s talk about how we can avoid this blatant discrimination. First, do your homework. I know you read 36 online reviews before buying a new Bluetooth speaker or set of kitchen utensils. Bring those sleuthing skills to your everyday life. It might be a bit of work up front but imagine what you could do with that extra $1,351 each year. Look around for the best price for dry cleaning and find a mechanic you trust.
Another tactic to sneak around this tax is to buy the “men’s” version. I’m telling you, a razor is a razor regardless of its color.
When there is no way around buying more expensive female-directed products, some consumers have found luck airing their grievances on Twitter. Keep sharing these injustices with friends and other networks, because standing idly by is not going to make a change.
Emily Bettridge is a content strategist at Plaid Swan Inc., a marketing communications firm in Cedar Rapids. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and previously worked with the CBJ as an editorial intern.