Maddie Laplante-Dube, Opinion Editor
The following story will be familiar to women.
The other day, I went to CVS to go buy razors and shower gel. I know that smooth legs are a product of the patriarchy or whatever, but I like having them so I decided that I would buy into capitalism and invest in a new set of blades. Lo and behold, a four-pack of Venus razor heads, with swirling blue and pink and pastel on the packaging, for the low, low price of $23.99 (that's the price of, like, three meals). I turned to the other side of the aisle and saw that Gillette offered a four-pack of razor heads with the same amount of blades and the famous moisture strip for men's delicate jaw bones for half the price. Half the price! For the same product!
This is the story of The Pink Tax. The Pink Tax is the phenomenon that women will pay more for the same product as men seemingly for the sole reason that there is the color pink on the product. It also refers to the idea that women will be charged more for a service that is usually the same length or quality as a service provided to men, like dry cleaning or getting a haircut. It's an issue that has become so real that some states, including California, made "gender tax" illegal. Businesses and service providers can get fined, starting at $250 for a first offense.
A study done by U.S. News & World Report showed that 42 percent of the time, women are charged more for a product that is exactly the same as its male counterpart. Some of those items not only were marked up but actually contained less of the product in order to make the packaging smaller and more "feminine" looking. In terms of clothes, that has a certain merit -- certain women's styles today have less fabric, different cuts, are tighter -- and in this situation, suppliers are playing off of social standards and perpetuating them to make money.
Not to mention the fact that women are charged for personal feminine products, like pads and tampons. In some states, there is even sales tax on these products. Why we even have to buy these things, which are a constant necessity and which some women can't afford, is beyond me.
Overall, according to the aforementioned report, women pay 13 percent more for personal products, 8 percent more for adult clothing, 7 percent more for toys and accessories and 4 percent more for children's clothing (sorry to all the single moms with daughters out there). And one report done by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs in 2016 found that shampoo and conditioner marked to women cost 48 percent more on average than those marketed to men. 48 percent more for glorified scented soap.
And then there's the pay gap -- it still exists and progress on the gap has slowed to the point where it is unlikely to close until at least 100 years from now. The big number is that women make about 80 percent of what men make (i.e., 79 cents on the male dollar), but that's just an overall average. In New York, the gap is the smallest in the country at 89 cents on every male dollar, but in Wyoming the gap is as large as 64 cents on the male dollar. And then there is the constant struggle for women of color: for example, for Hispanic and Latina women, that pay gap is slashed down to almost half of what white men make, at 54 percent.
The Pink Tax is a product of a country and an economic system that is not for and that takes advantage of women. It's a scary reality that a lot of women may not be aware of. It is also a reality that exploits male fragility and capitalizes on the binary of gender in general.
At any rate, I bought the Gillette razor.