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Hidden tax on women’s products

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Women are paying more than men for some of the same products.

A hidden tax known as the pink tax or gender tax is often found in several daily items women use and many women have no idea. Michael Cone is a partner at the law firm FisherBroyles, LLP and has studied pink tax for nearly two decades.

“It is a higher cost on goods for women and girls, simply because those goods are marketed and designed for them,” Cone said. “We’re trying to find out if there’s a good reason for it.”

Call for Action investigators went shopping to see if we could find similar products that cost more just because they were targeted for women. It turns out, the discrepancies are all over the store.

We found a green set of pacifiers for $4.29; the pink set was $4.49. Fruit of the Loom underwear cost $9.19 for men and women, but the men’s pack had seven pair and the women’s had six. A 10-pack of men’s BIC razors cost $6.49, the woman’s was $8.99. A store-brand of shaving cream for women cost $2.14 for women, but only $2.04 for men. The only difference was the women’s can was pink and the man’s can was black. A two pack of women’s Degree (2.6 ounce) cost $7.39; a two pack of men’s Degree (2.7 ounce) cost $3.97.

“I think that the higher prices are often due to more marketing costs for women’s goods. What the marketing does is inform women that they need to purchase specific products that are designed for them to be sexy and intriguing for example or beautiful and attractive. But that advertising does not do anything worthwhile in an economic sense. Advertising is only useful, if you take Econ 101, when it conveys information to the consumer. Does this deodorant protect you for six hours verses eight hours verses 12 hours. That’s real information that tells you about the effectiveness and the qualities of the good. If it’s to be sexy and intriguing, it’s a pure psychological play and women are taught that they need to buy marketing quite frankly to buy these things and purchase pink in order to be feminine, sexy and attractive,” Cone said.

The gender discrimination goes much deeper though. Cone said Uncle Sam charges certain importers more if the product is for a woman.

“Uncle Sam places different taxes on clothing, footwear and gloves based on whether those goods are imported allegedly for men or women, and the only difference between shirts for men and women is which side the buttons are on,” he explained. “My biggest pet peeve is the import tax on women’s athletic shoes. If you add up all those excessive taxes, those importers pay $100 million to $150 million more per year on athletic shoes.”

Cone said some of that cost is passed down to you, the consumer. One example he gave was the import tax on women’s athletic shoes. Cone said there is a 10-percent import tax for women’s leather athletic shoes but only an 8.5-percent tax for men’s leather athletic shoes. However, Cone said there are places that this discrimination is being fought. He said in France a group has petitioned a government administrative agency that looks out for women and gender issues.

“In Scandinavia they have now outlawed gender marketing for boys and girls. Their catalogs and their marketing in store is not pink and princess dolls are for girls and swords are for boys. It’s company awareness, it’s awareness for consumers.”

For now, Cone said if you are fed up with paying more, simply buy the man’s product. Often he said they are the same thing.

Author: Lindsey Sablan
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