These seven examples of the pink tax will prove to you that this problematic practice is present in more ways than you are aware of. Check out our pick of the seven most absurd pink tax examples.
A term used in discussions of gender equality, the “pink tax” is more complex than it appears on the surface. What might be incorrectly thought of as a specific tax for pink-colored products, the pink tax refers to how products marketed towards women cost a lot more than their “male” counterparts.
This is often due to women’s products being taxed as “special” or “luxury” items. Manufacturers also claim that these products cost more to make than gender-neutral products, and must therefore be sold at a higher price. An example of the pink tax is when the same design of razor costing more in pink than in blue.
Disclaimer: When talking about women in this piece, we refer to all people who are targeted by the gendered marketing tactics of the companies. Their own gender identification might not coincide with that which the companies assign to them, and many products target qualities or characteristics that many women might have, but many others don’t.
So where did it come from? There are several theories on the origin of the pink tax. Some say it has been around since the 1960s and was created based on the assumption that a woman would not be in the workforce, nor coping with the expenses of being a single adult household. Others give more pragmatic reasons: higher tariffs on clothing imports for women, or the added production cost of a pink-colored product.
Hundreds of products have been identified as examples of the pink tax, from personal care products such as conditioners and face wash to necessary medical items like women’s adult diapers and canes. An issue debated since the 90s, the pink tax garnered wider recognition some years ago when several official studies found this practice to be widespread.
Examples of Why the Pink Tax Is Problematic
Aside from being another example of economic gender disparity, the pink tax is particularly problematic due to its use in the sale of menstrual products. Known as the “tampon tax”, period products are often not exempt from taxes in the US, although other necessities such as groceries and prescriptions are.
Because of this, the pink tax has been accused of enabling period poverty. Several states have made menstrual products tax-free, with federal legislations to do so now being discussed. Laws have also been passed against discriminatory gender-based pricing in some other contexts.
The pink tax has similarly been argued to be functionally pointless. This is due to many of the pink-taxed products having only aesthetic differences to their male-marketed counterparts. In the case of men’s ‘necessary products’, items such as razors and non-prescribed medications like Viagra have been argued to be the most obvious examples of the pink tax, as neither are usually taxed.
Pink Tax Examples: 7 Items That Get the Message Across
From kid’s bike helmets to a mortgage on a house, the ways the pink tax can affect you are more varied and stranger than you’d think. Here are seven weird but true examples of the pink tax.
A prime example of female oriented items being priced for more, one report into the pink tax by the Huffington Post found that a plain, gender-neutral black calculator cost over a dollar less than its pink counterpart. This is especially ironic as there is an actual pink tax calculator you can use to estimate how much extra money you may be losing by paying for this kind of product.
2. Bike Helmets
Teaching your kids to wear a helmet when riding a bike is important. However, this pink helmet appears to be especially effective in keep your child’s head safe, as it costs over five dollars more to buy than its blue, male-marketed counterpart.
3. Dry Cleaning
Yes, even paying for dry cleaning is suggested to have been affected by the pink tax. An investigation by CBS found that women were often charged more than double for dry cleaning than men, even when paying for very similar items of clothing to be cleaned.
4. Face Masks
Face masks have seen a recent rise in status within the last few years, and are often considered to be a necessary item. The color of the mask you are wearing may be having an impact on your wallet, however.
Users on r/pointlesslygendered, a forum dedicated to sharing the most unnecessary examples of gendered products, found a set of basic facemasks in pink to cost five dollars more than the same facemasks in blue.
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Even how you pay your mortgage may be affected by the pink tax. A recent study into mortgage loans and gender found that overall, women tend to pay higher interest rates than men in regard to mortgage loans.
This is not the only way that the pink tax may impact your banking habits, with women suggested to also have less access to business loans overall.
We all like to care for our hair, but for women, even hair care can be an example of needlessly paying extra in the form of the pink tax. A study into price disparities for popular products with male and female alternatives found that shampoo for women costs around three dollars more than that for men.
7. Hair Brushes
Even the simple hairbrush is not safe from the pink tax. Users on r/pointlesslygendered found that a detangling brush for girls was over 25 dollars more than a brush for boys, despite being the exact same product in different colors.
How to Avoid the Pink Tax
One obvious way to avoid the pink tax is by buying cheaper products marketed specifically to men, or products that are gender-neutral. Buying reusable tampon alternatives is another way to avoid the pink tax on single use items, as well as to reduce period-product-related waste in the environment.
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