Pretty in Pink Tax: The Price of Being a Woman

Risha Inaganti image
Risha Inaganti
March 27, 2024

Ah, Women’s History Month. A time when we can reflect back on the brave women who fought for the rights we have today. Like Sojourner Truth, a strong abolitionist in the 19th century. Or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a fearless leader in the fight for women’s suffrage. And of course, the woman who ended the horrible concept of paying more for products because they’re marketed to women (aka the pink tax). 

No, wait… that still exists.

Not that some women haven’t tried. In 2021, a bill titled the “Pink Tax Repeal Act” was proposed to Congress, but of course, like other attempts for equality, the bill gained little attention and was never enacted.

But hey, at least California, New York and the Miami-Dade County in Florida have banned gender-based price discrimination! Looking forward, we can also expect to see Kentucky, Missouri and South Carolina pass similar laws in 2024.

But before I get too carried away in the boring legal stuff, let’s take a look at where this whole “pink tax” thing began. 

Picture this… the Roaring Twenties. A time of risque clothes, fancy updos, and downright fun. As women began gaining the ability to express themselves and experiment with fashion, prices for things such as clothing and personal care items increased. Not long after, women started facing additional charges for other goods, like vehicle repairs and dry cleaning, too.

By 1994, this phenomenon officially had a name: the pink tax. Women, to no avail, begin to fight back against this additional charge. Now here we are, 30 years later, still fighting that same fight.

But maybe I’m being too harsh. Sure, sometimes I appreciate a good woman-targeted product. I mean if my options are to smell like tobacco and musk or pay an extra dollar to smell like flowers and vanilla, I’m choosing to spend that extra money.

So on that note, let’s take a look at some of my favorite gendered products.

#5. Donuts

I never knew eating donuts was such a feminine thing, but I’m so glad men can finally experience the sweet goodness that is a donut. Sorry, no, I meant the goodness of a bronut. Although, I’m not quite sure what men’s aversion to a normal donut is.

#4. Globes

Ladies, are you tired of that boring old blue and green globe? You know, the one that’s meant to represent the oceans and lands in a form that is most accurate to reality? Well, look no further! Introducing the pink globe. Finally, we can look at the world in style, instead of in those ugly old man colors. Thanks, sexism!

Okay, I’m joking. Obviously. But seriously, I do like the thought of a world where everything is pink. This globe is giving Barbie. It’s giving coquette. It’s giving period blood. What better way to sum up womanhood!

#3. Razors

It felt impossible to make a list of gendered products without including razors. While this may not be the wildest or most obscene one, it definitely is the most iconically infuriating one. Not only are women’s razors consistently more expensive, they’re also always terrible. We’re literally paying more for a worse quality product. Where’s the logic in that?

As a woman I swear by men’s razors. I can sacrifice the baby pink color for a cheaper and better shave. If you’ve never used a men’s razor before, take this as your sign to try it out.

#2. Binoculars

I’m so glad these binoculars are here to finally clear up the classic gender binary: girly girl and North American. Even better, I’m glad we finally have official mascots for ourselves: cartoon flowers and angry eagle.

#1. Trash Cans

Now you may be asking, how did I decide which item would be number one on my list? Out of every single gendered item that exists, how did I find the absolute worst, most pointless gendered thing? Honestly, this one is just so confusing that I don’t even know how to joke about it. And that’s how I knew it was number one. 

The fact that this trash can is found on a university campus is seriously concerning. (Comments speculate this was an attempt to point to the fact the person on a trash can is always perceived as a “man,” so it was actually trying to be more inclusive. Perhaps there is a culture difference, since the writing is Korean, but I think we can agree the idea failed spectacularly.)

While I’ve been joking around about the sillier parts of gendered products, it really is a topic of concern. With the spread of gendered products, and the pink tax at such a high, society is continuing to push harmful stereotypes. 

Young girls get the impression that women are supposed to be high-maintenance and expensive. Young boys get the impression that men are supposed to be strong and unemotional. Apart from that, the whole concept of “man products” versus “woman products” just enforces an outdated binary that pushes people to hide their truest interests.

Now, I’m sure you may be questioning what you can do to fight this disparity. Luckily, we aren’t totally helpless against the pink tax. 

Throughout the years, we’ve seen big pushes for the end of unequal charges, through projects such as the “Tampon Tax Back Coalition” and the “#AxThePinkTax” campaign. By supporting ethical brands, unisex products, and joining in on advocacy yourself, together we can combat gender based pricing.

Most importantly, remember that at the end of the day no one cares about labels. Buy whatever color is prettiest to you, get whatever item is most conveniently priced for you, and eat whatever food looks most appealing to you. Hell, I might try out some bronuts myself.