By Diya Saha
While walking through the aisles of Shoppers Drug Mart, I spotted the price differences between identical products for men and women. The prices for women’s products were higher than the ones for men. The Gillette razor for men was priced 2 dollars more than the Gillette Venus razor for women, both razors had the same features, the same number of cartridges, yet the Gillette Venus was priced higher. Now, I hadn’t only noticed this pattern in the price for the razors, but for the deodorants, shampoos, and all the other products that had a version for men and women. I had wondered why I hadn’t noticed this difference before, and why no one seemed to be questioning the price difference? It isn’t fair that a woman has to pay a higher price for the same products.
After researching this difference in pricing, I found that the correct term to use here is the pink tax. The pink tax or in other words price discrimination or gender-pricing refers to the additional amount women pay for products that are identical to the ones that men pay. According to the Canadian Labour Institute, the pink tax is the practice of charging women more than men for the same products and services. This tax can be as high as 50 to 100 percent more in products such as deodorants, shampoos, soaps, razors, and other women’s products. In some cases, the pink tax can be higher in prices for other products and services.
The creation of the pink tax dates back centuries. The pink tax was not created by individuals, but by the system, gradually strengthening over the years with the support and aid of men. For the same product, with the only difference being the targeted consumer, the product is priced higher towards women. This price discrimination does not just target adult women, but girls and women of all ages. From a very young age, girls are victimized by this tax, for example, a pink bike is priced at a higher price than a blue bike even if it is produced by the same company and has the same make and model. A study done by The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, determined that the cost of girls’ toys were an average of 2 to 13 percent higher than the boys’ toys despite being the same other than the colour. Now, it doesn’t just stop there. When girls transition into adults they have to face these taxes to buy daily essentials and other products and services. Another study found that adult women spent an average of 13 percent more every time they needed to pay for essentials like deodorant, body wash, shampoo, and razors. This tax also continues to affect senior women- they have to pay around 15 percent more for supports and braces, around 12 percent more for canes, and of course much more for retirement housing and care.
While it is true that there is no complete way to eradicate the pink tax right away, there are many ways one can help abolish the pink tax. I would suggest that you do your research first and learn more about the pink tax- it can be the first step towards change. If you don’t know about the pink tax and how to spot it, you won’t know how to act and avoid it. Another tip would be to avoid the pink tax altogether. If there is a product you are interested in which is geared toward women with the feminine design of the feature, buy another product that is geared towards men or even a product that isn’t gendered at all. I don’t think there isn’t much difference between men’s shampoo, body wash, conditioner, etc- as long as the product has the same ingredients. This reason won’t work for everyone, yes, but it may help you avoid paying for overpriced “female” products. My last tip would be to search for companies that have banned the pink tax. You may need to take some time to search for these companies and the product, but in the end, if you find the product you are paying less and also fighting the pink tax.
It is 2021, and it’s amazing to me that the pink tax is still continuing to differentiate based on the sex of the consumer. It is just not fair that women and girls are victimized by this tax. Even though there is no complete way to get rid of this tax, everyone should take the initiative to learn and take action against the pink tax. The pink tax will not leave right away, it will take time, resilience, and patience to completely get rid of this gendered-based pricing. The pink tax is not the fault of individuals, but it is the individuals that can create change.