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February 9 2016

Ladies, Don't Fall for "Pink Tax" Myth

Hadley Heath

IWF's executive director recently spoke at a college campus about feminism. After her talk, some of the college women had questions about the so-called "Pink Tax." I'm glad!

Grievance feminists have a whole set of myths to perpetuate the idea that the deck is stacked against women, and the latest myth is the “Pink Tax” myth: Evil corporations charge women more for everyday products like shampoo and deodorant because they are sexist and bigoted and trying to take advantage of women.

This simply isn’t true. Sure, you can visit a pharmacy and compare the prices of men’s and women’s products, and you will find a price discrepancy. According to one study, the difference is about 7 percent. But often, the products aren’t exact substitutes. If they were, then women are free to buy and use the men’s products – and they would do so.

In reality, many women’s products smell different, work differently, and contain different levels and mixes of active and inactive ingredients. Companies work hard to develop products that will appeal to women specifically. Then they package and market those products differently… and those research, development, and marketing costs are reflected in the higher prices women (voluntarily) pay.

This myth – like many other victimhood myths – relies on a bad presumption about women: that we are stupid. Nannies, regulators, and grievance feminists are making the argument that women simply don’t know what’s best for themselves, that women can’t help but get duped at the sight of pink packaging in the toiletry aisle.

Come on, now, we know better than this. I’ve used my husband’s body wash in a pinch before… and that musky scent just wasn’t my favorite. As soon as I went to the store, I got some Dove white bars, my body soap of choice. I bet there were store-brand soap bars that were even cheaper, but I like the way Dove smells and hey, I don’t mind paying the extra 25 cents to smell like I want.

Men and women are different. Our preferences are different, and our needs are different, too. My husband can get away with a dab of shampoo, sure, but I have longer hair than him and will go through my Herbal Essences bottles faster than he’ll get through his Pantene Classic Clean Two-in-One. (Two-in-one? Not for me!)

Yes, women pay more for toiletry items. But this isn’t a sexist conspiracy. It’s a reflection of the bountiful choices our competitive market has to offer. We should celebrate that we have so many options tailored to various audiences (while folks in socialist Venezuela are waiting in long lines to visit their grocery stores). The pink tax is definitely a #FirstWorldProblem.

If you don’t like the “pink tax,” then you don’t have to play the game. Buy the men’s products. Or better yet, buy whatever’s on clearance.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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