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The Personal is Political: The Pink Tax is a Political Attack on Womxn

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

As a young womxn, have you ever stood in the Walgreens questioning why the labeled “woman” razor was more expensive than the labeled “men’s” one? In the end, a razor is a razor so why is one more expensive, and sometimes more pink than the other? This is the Pink Tax.

What is the Pink Tax? 

The Pink Tax is not actually a tax, but rather “a system of discriminatory pricing on products and services” based on genders. This includes shampoo, haircuts, razors, tampons, and more. While the difference in the products price may only be a few cents, it adds up over a womxn’s life. In fact, the Pink Tax costs a womxn roughly $2,135 per year and by age 30 more than $40,000. This is not a new issue either. The Pink Tax has been around since the 1990s when a “1996 report from the state’s Assembly Office of Research found that 64 percent of the stores in five major California cities charged a higher price to wash and dry clean a woman’s blouse compared to a man’s button-up shirt.” Blatant examples of the Pink Tax have been present in society for years despite it being the 21st century. It’s time to not only talk about, but change the Pink Tax. 

Examples of the Pink Tax: 

A study from New York in 2015 found that on average, “women’s products cost 7 percent more than similar products for men, including 13 percent more for personal care products, 8 percent more for adult clothing, and 8 percent more for senior/home health care products.” One example of the Pink Tax is the tampon tax, a fee womxn are charged for feminine hygiene products. While almost all of the U.S. states exempt non-luxury necessity items, all but ten states charge a tax on tampons and other feminine hygiene products. This is a dangerous and harmful tax as all women need access to feminine hygiene products. Half of our population relies on these products. Periods and the necessary purchases are not a luxury, but a necessity. 

Dry cleaning is also another example of when women labeled clothing are taxed higher than men’s clothing for the same services. In 2016 CBS tested the “pink tax” with dry cleaning by sending two producers, one male and one female, to dry cleaners around New York City. Both male and female and similar style button shirts. At one store the female was charged $7.50 while her male counterpart was only charged $2.85, CBS reported. 

Wage and Opportunity gap:

The Center for American Progress reports the most recent Census Bureau data from 2018: “Women of all races earned, on average, just 82 cents for every $1 earned by men of all races.” 

To add insult to injury, womxn are already making less money than men due to the wage gap. If there is a woman that does make more than her male counterpart she is still impeded by the opportunity gap and or the bias that comes with pregnancy if she chooses to have a child. Making an income and keeping a job are already harder for womxn than men. The “pink tax” is yet again another barrier for womxn to overcome. The “pink tax” is gendered legislation that state governments endorse and practice. 

It is a problem that one group of people is being targeted for products that are necessary. The sexsim fostered and supported by state legislation needs to be banned in order for equality to be achieved. 

States that Have Taken a Stand: 

Fortunately, some states are taking action against the Pink Tax. In 2019, the Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation “that aimed to eliminate the Pink Tax by removing luxury taxes on feminine hygiene products in the state and ending gender-based pricing.” In 2018, the District of Columbia Mayor declared an end to sales tax on feminine hygiene products. These items included tampons, pads, sanitary napkins, menstrual cups, and comparable products.

More states should follow the lead of New York and Ohio; The National Law Review reported that New York banned the “pink tax” as of Oct. 1. The state implemented a ban on businesses charging a “pink tax” for products and will fine businesses up to a $250 fine for their first violation. If businesses continue to violate the newly implemented ban they will be fined up to $500 for any further “pink tax” charges. 

the "future is female" sign
Photo by Lindsey LaMont from Unsplash

What Can You Do? 

So, how can we change and end the discrimination on womxn from the Pink Tax? One step is to avoid buying the overpriced products targeted towards womxn. However, this solution does not work for everyone and does not hold corporations accountable. Another step is legislation starting on the local to the federal level. Contact your local senators and representatives to create legislation that protects womxn from the Pink Tax. But most importantly, speak out to others about the Pink Tax. Education and speaking up to others is the first, most important step. Also, you can use your social media to voice this issue.

facebook login on phone with social media scrabble tiles
Photo by FirmBee from Pexels

Does your state have a “Pink Tax”?

Check out this website to see. If your state does, sign a legal declaration to remove the tampon and Pink Tax. For help the next time you shop, check out this website that lists products and services without the Pink Tax.

What Needs to be Done? 

More work still needs to be done, but every step and action taking is a win closer to ending the Pink Tax. Call your local senators, educate others on the Pink Tax, and hold businesses accountable. Our voices and actions can and will make a difference.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Photos: Her Campus Media