When we talk about the War on Women, we’re typically referring to the fact that Republicans want to take away our reproductive rights, or the fact that women still make just $.78 for every dollar a man earns. What’s rarely mentioned, though, is that it costs more just to be a woman.
The Washington Post did an expose and the first example they give is a scooter from Target. The red version is $24.99. Color the exact same scooter pink, and the price doubles to $49.99.
The scooters’ price gap isn’t an anomaly. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs compared nearly 800 products with female and male versions — meaning they were practically identical except for the gender-specific packaging — and uncovered a persistent surcharge for one of the sexes. Controlling for quality, items marketed to girls and women cost an average 7 percent more than similar products aimed at boys and men.
After the Washington Post released the report, Target fixed the “error,” blaming it on a system glitch. They, by the way, had the same “glitch” last year when they charged more for an African-American Barbie than for a white one.
While nearly any parent knows that pink toys tend to cost more than toys of any other color, it gets even worse when girls grow up. While society expects us to be pretty, coiffed and completely hair free from the scalp down, we’re charged a whole lot more to get there.
Researchers for the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs pored over toys, children’s clothing, adult apparel, personal care products and home goods sold in the city. The largest price discrepancy emerged in the hair care category: Women, on average, paid 48 percent more for goods like shampoo, conditioner and gel. Razor cartridges came in second place, costing female shoppers 11 percent more.
Of course, none of this takes into account the fact that women are expected to buy more than men do. We’re expected to have enormous wardrobe, buy more razors because we shave a larger area and buy more cosmetics. Sure, women can go minimalist, but they risk anything from ridicule to, in some cases, losing their jobs.
While most women might balk at the idea of going to a barber, there are ways to save money. Pink razors are the same as the blue or black ones, and they are cheaper. Shampoos and other soaps and hair care products generally only differ in the scent.
The ultimate effect of charging women more, while paying women less, is to put women in an eternal state of being dependent on men or of remaining a permanent second class. It shouldn’t be up to women, as shoppers, to avoid being ripped off. Manufacturers and stores just have to stop with the shady practice.
Featured image via Flickr.