The Patriarchy Wears Pink: Taking on the Hidden Tax  

Who doesn’t love some personal pampering? From deodorant to shampoo and scented soaps, hygiene is an important daily ritual for many men and women; so, why should the latter be paying a reported 43% more for basic personal care items? Montrealer Aviva Maxwell pledges to answer this absurd question. 

The “pink tax”, a phenomenon that has been documented across various social media sites for a while now, is a discriminatory consumer practice that has women scratching their heads - and no, not because they need dandruff shampoo. According to CBC, stereotypical “female friendly” scented or designed products - such as flowery-smelling soaps, sparkly shampoos and pink razors - are marked up in price compared to their quote-unquote male-friendly counterparts, despite containing identical ingredients. ParseHub, a data mining company, alleges that women pay a six percent premium on the average razor, shampoo, soap, deodorant and shaving cream. Does anyone have some reasonably-priced soap to lend the patriarchy? They're playing a dirty game.​

Aviva, a mother of three and a sister to six brothers, had begun to notice that the feminine deodorant she was buying, though smaller than the typical men’s deodorant stick her brothers were purchasing, was costing her more

Evidently astonished by such blatant gender bias, Aviva is taking her bewilderment and turning it into effective action: by filing a class action lawsuit with the Quebec Superior Court against eight Quebec corporations for a reported $100 in damages and compensation - per claim. The defendants in this case include some familiar names: Unilever Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart, Jean Coutu, Uniprix, Metro, Loblaws, Walmart and Familiprix. According to the law firm, damages alone could be worth upwards of $100 million. 

Although it could take up to a year for the lawsuit to be authorized, Michael Simkin, a lawyer representing Maxwell, is determined to help Aviva take on the sexist marketing practice. "What we're alleging is there is discrimination between pricing for products destined for women and products destined for men.” He added, “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms strictly prohibits any form of discrimination based on sex, yet surcharges on products for women is a practice that continues despite significant attention from the media.” Because laws are recommendations, not requirements, right? Wrong. In addition to the aforementioned lawsuit, a reported $50 in damages and interest for “unlawful and intentional violation of the right to gender equality” is being requested by the motion - and rightly so. 

While CBC points out a common solution, that women should just purchase the male-marketed products if they want to be more economical, Aviva has an answer to that too. "If it is basically the same product and I have a preference, and I'm allowed to have a preference . . . why do I have to pay more for my preference?" she said. Jamie Benizri, a lawyer with Legal Logik, agrees, and wants to see gender neutrality, not bias, reflected in product pricing. “Hopefully we’ll see gender neutrality in marketing, but I think we are looking to recapture some compensation for the class members who have been discriminated against.

This case is one of the many instances that highlight the important buying power we have as women, and how we can make our voices heard by making our money count. So my fellow women, #GrabYourWallet and call out everyday sexism when you see it.



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