Female? It’s gonna cost you…
Sometimes being a woman can feel a bit taxing – and new research has revealed that we are in fact, being taxed more than men for everyday items…
According to an investigation by The Times, women and girls are charged more for hundreds of products in the UK, and that on average, these are 37% more expensive than the male equivalents – obvs because it costs retailers more to spray the items pink than it does to make them blue.
Brands that were named and shamed in the newspaper’s investigation included Argos, Boots, Bic, Levi’s and Amazon. A range of Bic ‘for her’ pens cost £2.99 while a plain black ballpoint is just £1.98, identical children’s scooters in Argos retailed at £5 more in pink than in blue, Levi’s 501 jeans in the same waist and leg length were 46% more expensive than the men’s version, and Amazon sells a Playmobil pirates ship toy for £12.59 whilst the equivalent ‘fairy queen’ costs £14.99. In addition to this, the newspaper also reported that ‘Tesco sells five own-brand ‘female twin-blade disposable razors for £1’ and ‘for the same price men get ten of an almost identical product, except that the razors are blue.’
Tesco released a statement in response to the investigation saying: ‘We work hard to offer clear, fair and transparent pricing… a number of products for females have additional design and performance features’. But when it comes to shaving, we’re not really sure what special ‘features’ on our razors warrant the additional surcharge.
Retailers now risk being called to Parliament to justify their ridiculous gender mark-ups. Maria Miller, head of the women and equalities committee said: ‘It is unacceptable that women face higher costs for the same products just because they are targeted at women. Retailers have got to explain why they do this. At a time when we should be moving towards a more de-gendered society, retailers are out of step with public opinion.’
And it seems as well as highlighting rampant sexism within the retail industry, the investigation also serves to shed light on the practice of pushing gender-specific products on young children. Teaching kids that pink is only for girls and blue is for boys, entrenches gender divisions from a young age when really, we should just be letting children play with whatever sparks their interest. And really, we’re not sure why there even needs to be a male and female version of the same toy when there’s no difference except for the colour and price.
CEO of The Fawcett Society Sam Smethers, said: ‘The Times investigation is really quite shocking. What we are seeing here is a sexist surcharge. Retailers are using gender stereotypes to charge women a premium simply for being women. Not only are women being boxed in by gender stereotypes but they are paying more for it.
‘We need more gender neutral options and an end to these rip off practices.’
A similar investigation by The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs last year uncovered similarly depressing results – women in the US were charged 7% more than their male counterparts.
Combined with the tampon tax here in the UK (which means we unwittingly pay a 5% tax for tampons and sanitary towels because they’re a ‘luxury item’) this latest report has confirmed what we’ve known all along: being a woman is an expensive business.