Tampons or lunch. This is a decision that millions of women have been forced to make with the extortionate prices of female hygienic products, coupled with the wage gap. Most countries not only tax period products as luxury items, but also legally allow products targeted towards females to be more expensive than those that are identical but targeted towards males. This phenomenon is called the pink tax, and we must fight against it to prevent its detrimental effects.
About The Pink Tax
The pink tax is a price disparity between products marketed towards females versus males. Despite downplaying efforts, it has proven to be real numerous times. For example, a 2015 study conducted by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found a 13% pink tax on personal care products in the state, and a 2020 examination in Italy found face moisturizers and deodorants for women cost over double the price of those for males.
A root cause of this is how society equates a woman's worth to her attractiveness. A 2021 study followed the careers of economists who graduated from the top U.S. doctoral programs for fifteen years. It revealed that the females who best met western beauty standards had the highest-paying jobs.
To meet these ideals, many females turn to beauty items like makeup. These companies use insecurities and the prevalence of beauty standards to raise the perceived value of their beauty products, causing their prices to be exorbitant.
This is a clever system institutionalizing the pink tax: female beauty products appear to be more luxurious than those for males, and are thus more expensive. It has become so overlooked that businesses have stopped masking it. These two shave gels are the same size and quality, but the pink one for women costs more than the blue one for men:
This is where the pink tax gets its name: products that are or are packaged in pink are more expensive than those of different colors.
While a fifty-cent difference seems minor, it adds up quickly. In 1994, women paid $1,351 more annually for the same services as men, according to a study by the California Assembly Office of Research.
Furthermore, the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 revealed that the global wage gap between men and women is 37%. Women receive significantly less pay than men, but with the pink tax, it costs them more to exist. They also have lower accessibility to quality education and high-paying jobs, which can make it hard to afford basic necessities.
The pink tax stacks onto these already-existing discrepancies, causing females to be more likely to enter poverty than males. 11% of women in the United States were in poverty as of 2019, as opposed to 8% of men. In Western nations, women of color are particularly vulnerable, as they often do not meet standards like thin bodies and desired accents, affecting their ability to gain reputable jobs.
This ensures white men have the majority of power, not only economically, but also socially and politically, minimizing the voices of females speaking out against the pink tax and related injustices.
The Fight Has Started
"The pink tax is blatantly discriminatory, affecting women from all walks of life from the cradle to the grave."
-United States Representative Jackie Speier
In 1996, Representative Jackie Speier's Gender Tax Repeal Act was passed in California. It "prohibits the pricing of consumer products and services that are substantially similar if such products or services are priced differently based on the gender of the individuals for whose use the products are intended or marketed or for whom the services are performed or offered." Rep. Speier introduced the act to the House of Representatives on June 11, 2021.
While it has not yet passed the House, it pushed President Biden to establish the National Defense Authorization Act in December 2021, targeting the $5,500 price discrepancy between male and female military uniforms.
California isn't the only state that's taken action. New York passed the Pink Tax ban, with similar regulations to Rep. Speier's Gender Tax Repeal Act. Numerous other states such as Minnesota, Washington, and Connecticut have eliminated sales taxes on period products, along with countries like South Africa, Canada, and Colombia.
Action You Can Take
Everyone is affected by the pink tax, even if it has been banned in your region. It harms people who need products for women across the world and perpetuates institutionalized sexism, pushing against the work of feminist movements. Here are some ways you can take action as a teen:
1. Learn more
Education is the first step to action. You can start with checking out the websites of organizations like TaxFreePeriod and AxThePinkTax. They have numerous resources that you can share with your friends and family.
This is a must if the pink tax is legal in your region. A quick search can lead you to numerous petitions demanding justice. If you live in the United States, this website provides you with resources based on your state's stance.
"SlutWalk DC 2012 " by SchuminWeb is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
3. Change where you shop
Be observant of price disparities when shopping. If you are female, stick to brands with equal prices and/or consider buying the male or gender-neutral alternatives. To take it a step further, regardless of your gender, reach out to companies with these discrepancies or legally report them.
4. Get involved in your community
Become a powerful community member by attending protests, hosting drives for period products, and organizing fundraisers; get creative!
5. Contact local government officials
Contact local officials with evidence of the pink tax and why it must be banned, and get your friends on board: the more people, the more they have to listen.
A reflection on the deep-rooted sexism in our world, the pink tax has pernicious effects on society. Several laws have already been passed, but the majority of the world continues to live in ignorance. The pink tax causes women to have higher chances of entering poverty, because they have to pay more for basic necessities, yet receive lower wages. By fighting for equality, we can push towards ensuring no woman has to go hungry to purchase that box of tampons.