Pink Tax

October 27, 2021

text: Maria Bogdan

illustration: Larisa Petcut


I think we've all been put in the situation where we walk through the neighborhood store and end up in the hygiene section. We reach for the pink razor, obviously we just don't want anyone to think we don't use the product recommended for our gender. But, in passing, we also look at the price... 20 lei. You try to convince yourself that it's not that much and you really need this product. Attractively placed next to the women's products is the men's blade range. You look at the packaging, all in blue, large "MEN'S RAZOR" written and then at the price of 12 lei. Well how? Why should you pay more just because the product is specifically aimed at women? This sad but common truth is called the pink tax, and if you think about it, I think you've been paying it since childhood without even realizing it.

What exactly is the pink tax? This tax is the extra amount that women pay for everyday products like razors, shampoo, clothes, laundry detergent and more. This "tax" applies to items that cover a woman's entire life, from girls-only toys and school uniforms to adult diapers.

A study from the United States showed that in 2019 women were at an economic disadvantage compared to men. For example, women were and still are consistently paid less than men for the same number of hours of work. Currently, women earn 80.5 cents for every dollar a man earns, a discrimination of 20%. For women of color, the gap is even greater.

If we earn less then why should we pay more for the same products? Maybe the differences don't seem big at first, but over time they add up. There is a website that can calculate how much this tax has cost you over your lifetime. In America most women have to pay about 40,000 $ more by the age of 30, and by 60 this number becomes 82,000 $.

One highly controversial aspect of the pink tax is known as the tampon tax, a tax women are charged for feminine hygiene products. Almost all US states exempt taxes on non-luxuries such as food, but all but ten levy taxes on tampons and feminine products – despite their necessity for something that is not controllable. Social media hashtags such as #genderpricing, #pinktax and #AxThePinkTax drew attention to the issue of differential pricing based on gender.

Officials in New York showed that, after all the calculations were done (for there were also rarer situations, admittedly, in which men's products were more expensive), it turned out that women's products were on average 7% more expensive. Julie Menin, one of the signatories of the report, pointed out that this percentage sadly adds to the wage gap between men and women.

So what can we do? It has been proven that women do more shopping than men for themselves, but also for family members. Big companies analyzing this trend realized that they would make more money if they could increase the price of the products that women bought most often. As consumers, we can start buying the men's versions of the products and wait to see what effect this change would have on the market. Or to have a mass protest, through which we can reach the ears of the parliamentarians who represent us and who could propose a law to combat this gender differentiation. In addition, this tax does not include people who do not find themselves in the terms defined by society as normal, belonging to the lgbtq+ community. If this difference is created, where will nonbinary people feel they fit? We should petition for a gender neutral future where the focus is not on our identity in every product we consume.

It is not normal that in 2021 there is still this tax which, in fact, is a price we pay to assert our femininity. If we don't accept this tax we can end up eliminating it completely in the future and be one step closer to gender equality. So let's fight for a future that is not blue or pink, but equal regardless of our identity!

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