Is the pink tax fair?
The ‘pink tax’ can generally be defined as an extra amount women have to pay as consumers for goods that are both similar and equal in merit to comparable men’s products. In most cases, there is absolutely no justification for pricing ‘female products’ higher, as gendered items usually only differ in terms of color or scent. And considering that these distinctions are purely cosmetic and highly superficial, it is incredibly discriminatory to expect women to bear substantially higher costs.
Most corporations tend to view the pink tax as yet another tool to generate more income. Lawyer Jennifer Weiss-Wolf believes that the motivations behind the pink tax come from a capitalist viewpoint, arguing that “if you can make money off of it, you should.” Companies also recognize that many women are willing to pay more for specific items--especially personal care products--justifying that products will still sell despite the bloated price tag. Clearly, this practice is highly exploitative and exemplifies why the pink tax is unfair.
However, some would argue that if women were so bothered by a supposed ‘pink tax,’ they could just go ahead and buy the men’s versions of what they need instead. But it must be acknowledged that many women are unaware that such a concept even exists. Consumers tend to rely on labels. So when a product is labeled “for men,” women would perceive this to be “not for them,” meaning they would end up having to bear a higher cost without realizing they had the option not to. That is unequivocally unfair.
There's no denying that gender-based price discrimination, a.k.a. the 'pink tax,' exists. And due to this discrimination, women will pay annually around $1,300 more than men do on things ranging from shopping to dry cleaning. Yet when it comes to whether it's fair or not, there are reasons to justify it.
First off, male and female products are not the same. Take skincare products, for instance. Male and female skin differ in many aspects, including aging. As men's skin has higher collagen density, women's skincare products require additives like vitamin C serum to counter early aging.
Similarly, the cost of clothing differs for both genders, as women's fashion tends to be more expensive due to embellishment, the skill necessary for its manufacture, and its special care post-purchase.
Further adding to costs are tariffs such as the one levied by the Trump administration on Chinese fashion imports, which had a major impact on pricing for women, with 42% of women's and girls' fashion coming from China in 2018.
Economists also highlight subjective differences. Women may be willing to pay more for a cosmetic product because of a feature that won't matter as much for men. And as one reporter states, she will 'just have to smell like a man' to avoid the pink tax, implying that women may care about the smell of their products more than men do.
As all the above are choices, women who deem the pink tax unfair can avoid it. Some ways to pull this off include choosing gender-neutral items or men's versions of products. Therefore, the power to accept or reject this tax is in women's hands and ultimately is fair.
- Although some US states have eliminated taxing female sanitary products, countries around the world, such as Iceland, Albania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Argentina still add a 20% tax to them.
- One product that is actually cheaper for women is term life insurance because “Statistically, women live longer than men and are more likely to live past a [life insurance policy’s] term length.”
- As part of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2020 Women’s Agenda, the pink tax was banned. Violators of the provision would be “subject to a monetary fine and required to provide restitution to consumers.”
- A 2019 study revealed that 74% of women’s perfumes in France were more expensive than the versions marketed for men.