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"Pink Tax" forces women to pay more on every day items

Katy Malinowski / Red Dirt Report
Savannah Melher holds tampons and receipts affected by the Pink Tax.
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OKLAHOMA CITY-  On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into effect. This was part of his New Frontier Program which combated sexual discrimination and unfair wages towards women.

After 54 years, women continue to face a gender wage gap across the spectrum.

As women continue to face the issues of gender equality in America, consumer markets have gathered on the opposite side of this fight. This struggle for equality ranges from the wide political field to every woman’s supermarkets.

The “Pink Tax” is the term used by market analysts and consumers to show the increase in product prices for women as opposed to men’s products.

Since the early 1960’s, marketers have known about research that asserts that in a common American household, it is not the man who shops for the home.

Research from articles covered by Yale and Harvard have shown the majority of shoppers in grocery stores are female rather than male. In a Forbes article, a business analyst named Bridget Brennan describes why women have been shown to shop more than their male counterparts.

“The real reason is sobering,” Brennan writes. “In virtually every society in the world, women have primary caregiving responsibilities for both children and the elderly. In this primary caregiving role, women find themselves buying on behalf of everyone else in their lives.”

Brennan continues to assert women’s leading role in marketing by writing, “If you’re in a consumer business, it means that women are multiple markets in one. They are the gateway to everybody else.”

Because of this reason, the quantity demanded for female products increases and market managers will raise their price to gain a profit.

Feminine hygiene products at a local Wal-Mart. (Katy Malinowski / Red Dirt Report) 

For example, the clothing department of Wal-Mart will showcase the same style shirt and categorize the two as male and female. In this categorization, the prices begin to vary.

When comparing the prices, the male’s shirt costs $8.00.

The female’s shirt costs $17.94.

The comparative differences do not limit themselves to clothing departments. These differences in price bleed over into toiletries and regular utilities in which companies have made products for male and female.

Feminine hygiene products, like tampons and pads, have continued to increase throughout the years. It was reported by CNN in 2005 that menstrual pads cost on average $5. The majority of feminine hygiene products cost anywhere $9 to $12 at major grocery stores.

Emily Vargass is a junior at the University of Oklahoma working towards her degree in economics. Vargass has been known to stock up on things like tampons and pads in bulk from places like Sam’s. She has even resorted to buying the male equivalent of certain products.

“There’s plenty of times that when you compare the products side-by-side, you can’t tell you the difference. I guess this is why I think the pink tax is so frustrating because it’s just a marketing ploy,” she said. “Shirts, razors and deodorant are all things I’ve bought from the male's side of the aisle in order for it to be cheaper.”

Regular products like office supplies and tools have been affected by the pink tax. Bic, the company which makes pens, pencils and lighters have marketed their pencils and pens differently according to the color.

Yellow pencils will be marked at $2.82 a pack and pink pencils are priced $2.97.

The Pink Tax has gained traction from the regular household all the way to the United States Congress. In December of 2016, a Joint Economic Committee was made to investigate the purpose of the pink tax and its legitimacy.

Though the committee has disbanded, its findings have legitimized the issue of women’s rights and brought it to the forefront of gender equality talks on Capitol Hill.

The fact that women have to pay for more for products because studies show that women shop more than men is an economic choice rather than gender equality is puzzling. No rule or law has allowed for this practice to happen nor has it stopped it.

A Business Insider article showed a study that women continue to earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. In a report released by the Senate Joint Economic Committee Democratic Staff last April, a woman’s median annual earnings are $10,800 less than a man’s income.

It is not a matter to discourage markets from using their economic practice; it’s more to focus on just another step in the road to gender equality.

So long as the Pink Tax is in effect, there will be speed bumps. 

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About the Author

Brandon King

Brandon King is a journalism student at OCCC, working towards becoming a professional writer....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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