Look. Being a woman is tough.
We statistically make less money on average (even less so if you’re a woman of color), and to make matters worse, we have to deal with the pink tax.
If you’ve ever wandered through any grocery or convenience store, you’ve probably seem multiple versions of the same product. There are the normal ones like “oil free” and “gluten free,” but you’ve probably also seen tons of products advertised as being “for her” and “for him.”
This is known as gendering products and companies LOVE to do this to products that have no business being gendered.
Today, almost every arbitrary product you can think of has been gendered. Lisa Wade, creator of Sociological Images, has hilariously conjured up hundreds of pointlessly gendered products over on Pinterest. At this point, if you can think it, you can gender it.
But what is the purpose of a gender gap if men and women, for the most part, don’t require different products? The last I checked, our skin, hair, and nails are no different whether we possess a Y chromosome or not. And other products like food, tools, and children’s toys don’t need to be separated by gender either.
Enter, the pink tax.
If by now you’ve guessed that there is really no difference between gendered products, then you’re absolutely right. At least not in their usages. The sole purpose for why companies gender products is so that they can make more money.
The pink tax is one of the most prominent ways of doing so. Women’s versions of the same products almost always cost more than the men’s version. This usually manifests as there being less product overall, the quality not being up to par, and my favorite, they think you’ll pay more for something if it’s pink.
And they’ve been getting away with it forever.
Companies know that they can regularly rely on 1 of 2 people buying one version of their product based off of the language choices, colors, and packaging used. At best, this triggers a major eye roll from me, but at worst, this pink tax is seriously costing women.
According to a 2016 study done by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, products marketed towards women cost more 42% of the time.
If you’re outraged by any of this, then welcome to the club. Fortunately, there are ways to lessen the impact of the pink tax. You just need to become more aware of what is trying to be sold to you.
1. Always compare prices/labels.
Ignoring everything else, this should be the first thing you look for. This is how the pink tax keeps thriving after all. Sometimes price difference make sense. Things can cost more if more product is included.
What doesn’t make sense is when you have to pay more for less.
Even when prices are labeled the same, check the quantity per package or price by weight. Judging solely on shapes and sizes is one of the easiest ways of hiding the pink tax. This is known as “shrink it and pink it.”
2. If it seems like pandering, then it probably is.
Thanks to social indoctrination before you’re even born, certain colors, word choices, and images are hard-wired into our brains based on gender.
Companies clearly use this to their advantage by playing on those stereotypes.
They’ll use certain language such as “soft,” “delicate,” and “gentle,” for women’s products, as well as imagery of pink and princesses. For men, they get metals, barbed wire, and words like “tough,” “aggressive,” and “extreme.”
This is the absolute laziest form of marketing (and not in a good way). This is literally the extent to which their market research goes.
To make matters worse, companies will further cement this difference starting with children’s toys and clothing. For example, boys are doctors, superheroes, kings, and essentially anything they want to be. Girls are almost exclusively nurses, homemakers, and princesses.
Are you okay with supporting a company that will generalize you this much? If not, don’t buy into the pandering.
3. When in doubt, always buy the men’s version of anything.
Be honest. If you heard that a woman was using men’s deodorant, what would your reaction be? She’d be met with a slight bit of disgust, right? This is why gendered products are a marketing godsend for companies. The work essentially does itself.
Unless you need to buy something that has a proven positive effect on women, like products that affect hormones, then just buy the men’s version.
They’re almost always cheaper, but they’re usually more reliable and trusted. Plus, they tend to not have a bunch of other junk ingredients.
9 times out of 10 I just want a product that works well, and that can almost always be achieved with solely checking out the men’s version.
And honestly, who wants a home full of gaudy pink anyway?
The next time you’re in any store, pay close attention to what’s being marketed to you. If there is a gender difference does it make sense? Are the gendered products the same price?
Spoiler alert, overwhelmingly the answer is “no” for both.
Stand your ground and show companies that you’re not willing to pay more for arbitrary differences.
Do you currently use anything that is geared towards men as a woman? If so, let’s hear from you!