The Pink Tax: Not my bloody fault

By Katherine Hamilton |

As Americans, we love sales, deals, and bargains. I have always chosen to partake in as much shopping as possible in order to stimulate economic growth; however, it wasn’t until recently  I realized women have been scammed into paying more money for everyday items, as well as being taxed for basic necessities.

I swear it is not a scam or fake statistics radical feminists use to make their point. I admit, I too was a doubter. I thought these women’s marches were filled with angry women wanting to be heard. Most of the speeches I had listened to had been so overly emotional that I had a difficult time taking them seriously.

During the election process, however, I stumbled upon a speech Ashley Judd gave at a rally. While I cannot say I agree with everything she had to say, she brought to my attention something I had never heard of: The Tampon Tax. With further investigation on my part, I realized, not only does the Tampon Tax still exist in about 40 states, but there is also something called the Pink Tax to contend with. When I asked around, most people I questioned did not know what these taxes were. I was not alone in the fact that these taxes seemed to be a more hidden form inequality, repressed from society.

The Pink Tax manifests in most of the chain retail stores we know and love. According to a Study of Gender Pricing in New York City where 24 stores and 91 brands were studied, “Personal care products cost 13 percent more for women than men,” and, “The DCA found, on average, that women pay approximately 7 percent more than men for similar products.” Overall women’s products across the 35 categories in the study were found to cost more 42 percent of the time, whereas men’s products only cost more 18 percent of the time. As entailed in the study, the impact of the tax may cause women to spend thousands of dollars more than men for almost identical products over their lifetime.

The Tampon Tax, while not an official tax itself, is seen as an issue because feminine supplies in a majority of the United States are taxed, where other health products are not. Tampons and pads typically fall into the category of hygiene and grooming products, causing a tax that’s estimated to bring in a revenue of $20 million in the state of California alone. Overall, women are paying extra, and even if the cost does not seem excessive individually, it adds up.

Learning about these taxes has opened my eyes and frankly, made me extremely irate. Who decided that tampons and pads were grooming products and not necessities? Obviously, someone who doesn’t understand that women have no control over their periods. Periods without the proper products can be debilitating. In short, if we don’t have the right products, we will bleed everywhere.

Women in countries that do not have access to feminine products often become so weighed down with having their period that they must stay sectioned off from society for its duration or even drop out of school. Those kinds of consequences do not seem to warrant the status of ‘grooming’ even in a developed country.  Also, who decided that charging women more money than men for the same product is ethically sound? I can’t for the life of me figure out why the pink tricycle is costlier than the red.

While I am disturbed by the fact that women are being gypped out of their hard-earned money, what hurts me more is what these taxes imply about how women are still being viewed and treated. To state it bluntly, these taxes are a further example of how we are being taken advantage of simply for being women. In some small way, being told that pads are a luxury makes me feel that I am still seen as a lesser human being, and I am not being taken seriously. My health issues, my needs, and my wants boil down to ‘grooming’ and the color ‘pink’.

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