“[P]aying the big bucks so i can perform gender, with my Ass,” quipped BUGPOSTING in the post, which received nearly 30,000 likes and almost 4,000 retweets.
The tweet included a photo of regular and women’s “gentle laxative tablets” side-by-side on a pharmacy shelf. The women’s version of the tablets were priced at $3.69, compared to $1.49 for others.
Ok I hate pink tax too but usually the women’s bisacodyl has an enteric coating allowing for slow release (as not to irritate the limit of the stomach). If me have sensitive stomach it’s recommended they take the women’s bisacodyl.
— space jam (@badawiyyeh) May 28, 2019
A 2015 study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that on average “women’s products cost 7 percent more than similar products for men.” It acknowledged that “there may be legitimate drivers behind some portion of the price discrepancies.”
But that didn’t stop the agency from starting a hashtag campaign that urged consumers “to address this issue by tweeting examples of gender pricing and fair pricing with #genderpricing.”
Related studies have made similar findings.
Questions of orthodoxy
“I think it’s bc women’s digestion is affected by periods while men’s isn’t. The pink shit is dumb but there may be a reason for it being for women is all I’m saying,” wrote one Twitter user.
Measured on-screen, the pill on the right is ~30% wider => about 2x for the delayed release coating. Add longer processing times? Marketing and distribution markups likely dominate, but 2x price doesn't seem that absurd.
— Alan (((Engel))) (@alanatpaterra) May 28, 2019
“Can’t believe some of you guys actually think the pink tax is real,” wrote another.
The “Pink Tax” Debunked?
Much of the coverage from feminist and major media outlets on the “pink tax” has framed the issue as an instance of gender bias and suggested outrage is warranted.
The New York Times editorial board wrote in its 2014 take on the “pink tax”: “The French feminist collective Georgette Sand — named after the French novelist who wrote under the pseudonym George Sand — has drawn attention to a shopping injustice: sexist pricing policies.”
The Femsplain blog in 2015 characterized the “the insidious gendered pricing” as a “cornerstone of toxic masculinity.”
In an essay for Bustle later that year entitled, “This Scary New Study on Gendered Pricing Shows Its Reach Is Greater Than You Thought,” Hillary E. Crawford wrote: “It’s particularly disconcerting that on top of discriminatory price increases, women make less money, on average, than men.”
But some commentators, such as Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown, have rejected the idea that the “pink tax” is a case of “patriarchy in action.” Responding to the Department of Consumer Affairs study in January 2016, Nolan Brown wrote:
Of course, individual consumers do have control over which products they buy, though. And while the pink razors with the butterflies on the packaging my be marketed toward women, no one’s forcing us to buy those over basic blue Bics. If the products in this study really were identical save for some totally non-desired factors, it seems likely that women, or at least a larger proportion of women, would simply choose the products marketed toward men.
Since they don’t, one can jump to one of two conclusions: either women are so brainwashed by marketing that they choose products against their own best interests because of it, or women find some discernible appeal in the women’s products—be that different ingredients, cosmetic factors, or whatever else—that make them worth paying more for. I’m going to go with the explanation that grants women a little intelligence and agency.