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Free Minds & Free Markets

The 'Pink Tax' Is a Myth

Is the "pink tax" a corporate conspiracy, patriarchy in action, or just market preferences at work?

BIC Soleil/FacebookBIC Soleil/FacebookDuring the height of holiday shopping season, a consumer report stoked ample ill-will toward American manufacturers after purporting to show that women's products are priced higher for completely arbitrary reasons. This so-called "pink tax," said the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), affects almost every product marketed at American females, "from cradle to cane."  

"The goal of the study was to estimate the price differences male and female shoppers face when buying the same types of items," the department states. It looked at 35 different product types, examining 794 individual items from 91 different brands.

"On average, DCA found that women’s products cost 7 percent more than similar products for men," the department concluded. The biggest price differentials were found for personal-care products (13 percent), adult clothing (8 percent), and home health care products (8 percent). The DCA refers to this impact as a "gender tax."

Though DCA acknowledges that "there may be legitimate drivers behind some portion of the price discrepancies," it still seems to consider this an unfair situation. Sure, women's products frequently contain different ingredients than do men's. But "individual consumers do not have control over the textiles or ingredients used in the products marketed to them and must make purchasing choices based only on what is available in the marketplace," the report notes. 

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. 

Many people, however, opted for the former explanation. And while a few outlets focused on consumer choice, highlighting how women should go with men's products where they can, more went the "Ladies, prepare to be outraged" route. "That face wash you're holding in your hand is most likely a marked up version of an identical men's product" (emphasis mine) said millennial women's site Bustle. "Pretty much everything we women buy costs more than a man pays," lamented The Stir. And Femsplain described "the insidious gendered pricing" as a "cornerstone of toxic masculinity." 

Think it's just women's media? "As if sexism, discrimination, and a 21 percent wage gap weren’t infuriating enough, a new study reaffirms that being a woman is just flatly more expensive," starts a story at Vocativ. "Ever heard of the 'pink tax'?" asks Upworthy. "It's real and cutting into women's finances in a big way." The New York Times editorial board even floats the idea of "legislative relief" from the "gender tax.

Alas, this sillier yet more regulation-friendly narrative has also been embraced by government officials. Because if manufacturers can use gender to turn a profit, why can't the government use feminism for its own aims and gains? "Women should not have to pay more than men for our everyday items," DCA Commissioner Julie Menin told Broadly. "Combating gender pricing is a key issue in the fight against inequality in our country." 

Photo Credit: BIC Soleil/Flickr

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...no one's forcing us to buy those over basic blue Bics.

    I don't see how any woman could think to land a husband using those.

  • WoodchipperPatriarch||

    Are you selling pink shit on the internet? I've heard that's very lucrative.

  • Voros McCracken||

    *slow clap*

    Well done.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm going to go with the explanation that grants women a little intelligence and agency.

    No, no, no, No, NO! It's the corporations! They're forcing women to pay more while paying them less! Aaauuuggghhh!

  • SugarFree||

    "That face wash you're holding in your hand is most likely a marked up version of an identical men's product"

    And it's illegal for them to buy the male product? Wow, this is an outrage!

  • Curt||

    It's important to understand the subtle differences. You see, my product is strong enough for a man... but, it's pH balanced for a woman.

    You can't really expect a woman to use a product that is pH balanced for a man!

  • Vincent Milburn||

    We men like to put acids and bases on our arm pits.

  • JW||

    Of all of the stupid, stupid hills that the gender partisans could die on, this has to be the most moronic of all.

    "Yo, bitches. You're all too stupid to decide on how to buy your own smelly soap and shit. Here, baby, let me take care of that triflin' shit for you."

  • Robert||

    Yes, just as it's illegal for a girl to play w boys' toys.

  • MSimon||

    They should play with boy toys. While it is still legal.

  • WTF||

    "Women should not have to pay more than men for our everyday items,"

    So if they're really the same, buy the fucking men's version. And if they're not really the same, shut the fuck up.

  • Derp-o-Matic 5000||

    Exactly. If you weren't willing to pay more for the pink razors over the basic white or blue ones, companies wouldn't charge more for them.

  • Robert||

    B-b-but the boy's scooter is red, not pink!

  • Lee G||

    Women will routinely pay more for the same thing because it's been dressed up as "feminine". That's marketing 101, put some flowers on it and charge more. By the same token, guys will pay too much for 17 blades on the Mach 38 Turbo-Boosted Vibration Enhanced Stubble Annihilator Special Edition.

    If women want that to change, then they need to change their behavior. The customer drives demand, not the manufacturer.

  • SugarFree||

    Pssh. Whatevs. Everyone knows the cart goes before the horse. Obvs.

  • commodious spittoon||

    Well duh, you can't buy the horse before you put it in the cart. Amazon 101.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    How can you put in in the cart if you don't have the cart first, though?

  • SugarFree||

    Government should provide free carts to everyone.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!

    Slow down here, you are putting the free cart before the free horse!

  • Derp-o-Matic 5000||

    Government should force corporations to provide free carts to everyone. stop denying access to carts.

  • UnCivilServant||

    But if you harness a free horse, it's no longer free! You can't do that.

  • SugarFree||

    They have to get both at the same time, obviously. And people can't be expected to feed and stable their free horse on their own dime.

  • Lee G||

    Egalitarianism is so confusing

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Confusing, but equally confusing!

  • WTF||

    The evil corporations need to be forced to charge the same price for the items with flowers and pink coloring. Otherwise it's just not fair!!11!!!!

  • ||

    ^This. It's about forcing "fair" pricing.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Wait a minute now! So, a poor person who has been forced to go on welfare because of bad luck that was totally not their fault is going to have to pay the SAME PRICE as some evil 1%er? And you call that fair!?!

    Pricing should be based on the ONLY FAIR PRINCIPLE, which is ABILITY TO PAY! Otherwise, people with money will be able to buy more stuff then people who - through NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN - don't work or have any money. And who would want to live in such an unregulated hellscape as that?

  • WTF||

    Sadly, this is the 'thinking' behind the New Jersey Supreme Court's Mount Laurel decision, which mandated 'affordable' housing in every municipality. The decision boils down to "everyone has a right to live wherever they want to, whether or not they can afford it". I wish this was only a joke.

  • SimonJester||

    I couldn't agree more, Cal. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.

  • ||

    From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.

    As long as we're talking about copper-jacketed lead and *I* determine ability and need, I'm cool with that.

  • ant1sthenes||

    If there are actual material differences, then I'm guessing that they'll just stop selling the feminine version altogether.

  • Social Justice is neither||

    no, they'll jack up the prices on the men's version.

  • Tommy_Grand||

    we can just add a 7% tax to anything men buy. Problem solved.

  • retiredfire||

    And here is Free-Marketing 101:
    If the difference in price was arbitrary, some enterprising company will offer the "pink" items for the same price as the "blue" ones and clean up.
    Just like: if women were routinely paid 77% of what men are, for the same work, some enterprising company would offer women 100% of what the men make and have the pick of the best and brightest of the women, even if they are already working.

  • DEBBAK||

    Or some enterprising company would fire all the men and hire women and lower their labor cost by 23%.
    That would be what a smart company would do. If the gap were actually a thing. In fact, there was a really funny "commercial" starring Kristen Bell. It's intention was to call attention to the wage gap. But what it really did was reveal that companies could trim their budgets!!! Fail!

  • Illocust||

    "Alas, this sillier yet more regulation-friendly narrative has also been embraced by government officials. Because if manufacturers can use gender to turn a profit, why can't the government use feminism for its own aims and gains? "Women should not have to pay more than men for our everyday items," DCA Commissioner Julie Menin told Broadly. "Combating gender pricing is a key issue in the fight against inequality in our country." "

    I bet the cosmetic industry is way on board with this development. They'd love to be able to charge men the same as they do women, but they can't currently do so without being undercut by a competitor. A little government regulation would increase their profits.

  • sarcasmic||

    Bootlegger and the Baptist.

  • WoodchipperPatriarch||

    Julie, huh? Not exactly an objective actor here, is she?

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    As a rule of thumb, if you give your money to a private individual or publicly-held corporation in exchange for goods and services, this is a "purchase" and not a "tax". If someone from the government extracts money from you by force, then it is a "tax".

    Don't let them further disguise this fundamental difference. If I pay more for a razor because it is pink and has little flowers on it, whether because I like pink things with little flowers or because I fear that I will grow facial hair if I use a man's razor on my legs or because I fear that the Cosmo-reading set will look down on me if I use the wrong hygene products, that is not a tax in any way.

  • sarcasmic||

    They call it a tax because they honestly believe that corporations wield the same kind of power as government. That's why they always talk of corporate power this and corporate power that. I their minds the corporations force us to work for them and buy their products, and only government keeps the corporations from literally enslaving us in chains.

  • sarcasmic||

    *In*

  • Derp-o-Matic 5000||

    I think these people really fail to understand choice and personal decision-making at a very fundamental level. These fucktards who can't distinguish between a government forcing you to do something and voluntarily purchasing a product are the same ones who call redistribution "charity" and describe an employer's failure to provide something as "denial."

    It's truly mind-boggling

  • sarcasmic||

    I think these people really fail to understand choice and personal decision-making at a very fundamental level.

    Doing so requires admitting that there is some personal responsibility involved, and is emotionally upsetting. That's why government needs to step in and take responsibility away. That is where freedom lies in the mind of a leftists: a lack of responsibility. So long as you ask permission and obey orders, you're not responsible. You're free.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    What the left doens't want to admit is that "choice" needs to imply "responsibility".

    It's like the refrain we hear every time a progressive wants to "make X free for everyone". "It is horrible that, in the wealthiest country on Earth, too many of our citizens have to choose between food and X every month!"

    It all originates in the notion that the state owns everything and corporations are just a tool they use to distribute stuff to the masses. As a corollary, the state should decide how much food and how much X everyone should have.

  • See Double You||

    For decades, nay, a century and half, the left has "studied" commerce and determined that there is no such thing as "voluntary" trade and thus every market transaction is really a tax on unwitting consumers.

    They also determined that government represents everyone's real interests and thus every government tax is really a "purchase" and all government spending is an "investment" on our behalf.

  • sarcasmic||

    Well, yeah. Government is "us" while businesses are "them." Government protects us from predatory businesses who would enslave us all by providing jobs and products to workers and customers. That's like slavery and stuff.

  • WTF||

    Look, corporations have power because they use their money to exercise undue control over the government through lobbying and campaign contributions. Therefore we need to make government more powerful to fight the corporations. QED!

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    "But, the fact that the government has all this power over corporations meas that corporations will spend even more to control what the government does to them."

    "Then, the obvious solutio is - give the goverment more power to regulate them."

    "But, the fact that the government has all ths power ....ah, screw it, I'm moving to Somalia."

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    In their view, corporations should be merely agents used by the governent to hand out money and health insurance.

    And, yes, if we didn't have Unions and Government to protect us, we would still all be working 18-hour days in chains, seven days a week, from the day we turn 6 years old, because we are all just helpless automatons with no agency, skills, or brains of our own.

  • kbolino||

    To this day, I still do not understand why it eludes so many people to ask "if it was so dangerous to work in the factories and the mines, then why didn't people return to subsistence farming?"

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    You see, in the State of Nature, everyone had enough of everything.

    Then, corporations came along and took it all. Then, they forced these people, who previously lived in a paradise where they wanted for nothing, to go down in the mines and work themselves to death, because EVIL. Only through the benevolent intervention of the government were the people freed from their shackles to once again walk the green earth and live off of the manna that drops freely from Heaven every day.

  • SimonJester||

    Life in the state of nature is nasty, brutish, and short. Not unlike much of this commentariat.

  • Rocinante||

    Dude, I'm not short.

  • R C Dean||

    In their view, corporations should be merely agents used by the governent to hand out money and health insurance.

    Fascists. This is not news around here.

  • Derp-o-Matic 5000||

    Argh, should have refreshed before my post below

  • SugarFree||

    Julie Menin

    She's probably just angry about how much she spends on professional gum bleaching every year.

  • notJoe||

    Thanks for that.

    Think I'll go give my kids this muffin I was preparing to eat. I seem to have lost my appetite...

  • Bill Dalasio||

    No, she's angry because the cart went ahead of her.

  • Sevo||

    Julie! Call your orthodontist! Stat!

  • Derp-o-Matic 5000||

    "Difference in price" is not the same thing as a "tax."

  • sarcasmic||

    Taxes are used to raise the price of things like alcohol and cigarettes, so why can't other differences in price be called a tax?

    /Tony

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Mostly, taxes raise the price of government.

  • DEBBAK||

    You don't actually know what taxes are, do you?

  • Atanarjuat||

    Most of those personal care items have a gender-neutral generic or store brand that's very cheap, so women wouldn't even have to go for a product marketed toward men to save money. The reality is, some women want to pay more for such products because they want to have (or feel like they have) the best beauty products possible, as Fist alluded to.

    Also, Axe products also cost more than Safeway homologues. Douchebag tax!

  • Illocust||

    There is a price = quality thing that does exist. Most people don't realize that it's not very granular, though. A shirt that's ten dollars more expensive probably just has a pretty graphic on it and won't last you any longer than a normal shirt. A blouse that is one hundred dollars more expensive is likely to have a secondary layer that makes the clothes fit much better and last longer. You also sometimes have to switch stores to get the price = quality difference.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I've been trying to explain something similar to some avid wal-mart shoppers in an exploration of false economies. They keep buying the same crap over and over again because it keeps wearing out. Whenever I suggest they just go someplace else and get the good quality version instead, they go "But it's too pricey". In the meantime, they've bought the "cheaper" model three times while my only slightly more expensive one hasn't broken.

  • Nephilium||

    Maybe you'll have better luck if you dress it up as the Sam Vimes' Theory of Economic Injustice.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    Well it is the case that poorer (paycheck to paycheck) people sometimes can't afford the bigger purchase up front. They also have trouble getting the buying-in-bulk discount, both because of the upfront cost and locale of the big bulk places.

  • Just say Nikki||

    The study methodology is so poor that for at least some products a clearly neutral item is counted as the "male" version if there is also a special women's version. They made "default" = "male."

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    It's not their fault, they were brainwashed by the Patriarchy!

  • Just say Nikki||

    Precisely.

  • Rhywun||

    They made "default" = "male."

    Well, at least they got something right.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    It's always de males fault, somehow.

  • R C Dean||

    [single golf clap]

  • perlchpr||

    I dunno, I think Silent Cal should have goen with "It's always de fault of males, somehow", really. ;)

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    You lose.

  • SugarFree||

    On gendered products:

    Back in college, my wife ran out of her deodorant. In desperation, she used my Speed Stick. After a few hours, her gay friend at work told her: "I don't know what that perfume is, but you smell fantastic today."

  • colorblindkid||

    What about car insurance? I never see women complaining about different treatment of the sexes over the $200 less they pay every year than us. That's just common sense!! But god forbid their 30 minute haircut costs the same as my 10 minute buzz cut, it's the evil patriarchy at work. and they demand the same price.

  • WTF||

    You don't hear them complaining too much about their longer life expectancy, either.

  • DrZaius||

    Dude, that just means corporations can extort them longer.

  • colorblindkid||

    Or the 3:1 ratio of male to female suicides and the 93% of workplace deaths that are men.

  • Tommy_Grand||

    it is common sense that men pay more for car insurance and life insurance.

    it is sexism that women used to pay more for health insurance but Obama fixed it.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Fuck those little pink razors, let's talk about something of monumental importance. Can women get some functional fucking pockets in their clothes? Some of us hate purses.

    Finding cargo pants for a size 2 used to be impossible. Flat out in the magical land of Not Gonna Happen. Thank God and Al Gore for internet shopping.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    And thank Dog for the laptop bag. I would never carry a purse around, but I feel fine carrying a laptop bag to work every day, even if it only rarely actually has my laptop inside it.

  • greasonable||

    FYI, I searched for a picture of a hamster in cargo pants, but was disappointed. Not even a rule 34 pic to be found!
    The internet has let us down..

  • perlchpr||

    Really? I mean, I'm not quite sure what size a "2" is in like, numbers that mean something, but were XXS BDU pants not small enough?

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    Cargo pants?
    Not that there's anything wrong with that....

  • lap83||

    My favorite are mirage pockets. I just want the appearance of utility in my clothes! Ugh.

  • Akira||

    I bought a vest online that had two side pockets and one chest pocket. I remembered hearing that "nice" clothes sometimes had the pockets sewn shut, so I sliced open the two side pockets, which were real. The chest pocket was not. Now I have to remember not to put anything in the chest "pocket" lest it fall inside the lining.

  • Voros McCracken||

    The real gender discrimination (apparently) is that women can still wear cargo pants without being ruthlessly mocked by their peers.

  • Granny Weatherwax||

    Yes, thank the gods for Korean, Chinese and Japanese clothing sellers on the internet. The default setting for clothing size in American stores is 'grossly obese'. If I'm buying American, I have to shop in the Girls section to find my size--then some wizenheimer points out that I don't dress "age-appropriate". Well apparently everyone else my age is a fat cow.

  • GamerFromJump||

    I have the opposite problem. I work in China, where apparently even for men the default in shoes is "ballet dancer", and everything else is "midget". I'm 6'6" and wear size 14. Shopping pretty much mandates a trip home, unless I'm willing to pay double price plus shipping.

  • Kevin Sorbos Manful Locks||

    Yeah but at least you can drown your sorrows in baijiu.

  • David Welker||

    A significant dysfunction with libertarian thinking is that since the concern with coercion is so central, that it often becomes the only thing that matters. As the author notes, "no one's forcing us to buy those over basic blue Bics." Congratulations for noting that no actual physical force is being used. But having established the obvious does not change the fact that perhaps certain social arrangements are less than optimal.

    As a man, it is true that I could buy a razor designed for a woman. I mean, when I think more deeply about it, a razor is designed to cut body hair and the difference between men and women are not such that razors marketed to women should not work for men and vice-versa. So pink or not, I could use a woman's razor. But it would feel weird to do so. When it comes to marketing, the default assumption is that when you have "men's razors" and "women's razors" that there is a good reason for it and I should use the appropriate type. Most people are not going to use much cognitive energy really questioning this. Nor should they have to.

    So, if you take what it essentially the same product, color it pink, and call it a woman's razor and charge more for it, is there a problem here? Absolutely. Because while you are not using coercion, you are using manipulation.

    Libertarians need to get over the idea that the ONLY thing that matters is coercion. Of course, coercion and the use of force does matter a lot. But it is definitely not the only thing that matters.

  • kbolino||

    Nobody said it didn't matter. What we established is that it is not a problem the government can solve.

    If, as you indicate, manipulation is less severe than coercion, then coercion cannot be the answer to manipulation. Spread the good word, go forth and tell the women of the world not to buy the overpriced pink products, and rejoice at their newfound wisdom. Or don't.

    Regardless, if you pass or support a law mandating that manipulation must be punished by coercion, then your entire post here is mendacious drivel.

  • David Welker||

    I do not necessarily disagree with you but I do not necessarily agree with you either. It depends on what you are saying.

    It, in fact, could make sense to use coercion to prevent manipulation. If you have, for example, a single manufacturer manipulating millions of people, it could make sense to use coercion (in the form of regulations), to prevent that from happening.

    If we were to compare a single instance of coercion versus a single instance of manipulation, then usually, the single case of coercion would be worse. (But it depends on what, exactly, is at stake. A single instance of manipulation to separate someone from a million dollars may be worse in its consequences coercion than, for example, a single instance of coercion that forces them to pay 5 cents per gallon more in taxes at the gas pump.) But if a single instance of coercion could prevent millions of instances of manipulation, then that might be the lesser evil.

  • Derp-o-Matic 5000||

    I'm not clear on the definition of "manipulation" we're using in this example. If the company is engaging in fraud, then yeah, they should be punished. If it's merely advertising in a persuasive or even subliminal way, I fail to see how the company is doing anything wrong. People need to think about the choices they make.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    " But if a single instance of coercion could prevent millions of instances of manipulation, then that might be the lesser evil."

    This is what statists actually believe.

  • R C Dean||

    But if a single instance of coercion could prevent millions of instances of manipulation,

    Like, say, by banning books that promote badthink?

  • JWatts||

    Who could disagree with that?

  • kbolino||

    But if a single instance of coercion could prevent millions of instances of manipulation, then that might be the lesser evil.

    Whereupon the first brick in the road to hell is paved...

    When has "a single instance of coercion" ever been enough?

  • ||

    David, what's your ultimate principle, utilitarianism or autonomy (negative liberty)?

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    By "manipulation", are you referring to a business having the gall to attempt to persuade consumers to purchase their products?

  • Just say Nikki||

    Most commenters here, if they care about libertarianism at all, care only about the thinnest variety. I am sympathetic to your seeming concern that the drive toward libertarianism should be thicker and include criticism of suboptimal social situations. And I think that to some extent this is one of them. One thing you don't touch on is whether women should even be expected to know that men's products are cheaper. As a woman, I have not had many reasons over my lifetime to look at the prices of "men's" products. They're frequently not in the same location as women's products, and without some reason to suspect differences, why would I look at the prices? So to an extent studies like this at least have value in informing the public -- or they would if they weren't so shoddy. The methodology for this particular study seemed awful when I looked at it a couple weeks ago.

  • Illocust||

    Women shop for the entire households 75% of the time. You may have never had a reason to look at the men's aisle, but enough women have that its not even close to a secret. Plus, even in the woman's aisle there are generic cheap brands just below the expensive branded brands.

  • Rhywun||

    value in informing the public

    Agreed. Too bad it will inevitably lead to increasingly draconian forms of legislation.

  • Just say Nikki||

    And assorted other nonsense.

  • perlchpr||

    Certainly when it comes to talking about government action, we are very thin libertarians indeed.

    Here, I'll be thicker: "Yep, that's a terrible thing. I guess women should comparison shop more."

  • Just say Nikki||

    Compare that response to the average on this thread.

  • perlchpr||

    The issue, though, is that I don't actually think it's that terrible. From what I've seen the products do tend to be different.

    Now to be fair, I don't have a lot of experience with gendered products, but the one I have dealt with is razors. The only thing I ever shave is my scalp, but I have used the Venus brand of razors for that process, and found them beneficial, because the extra plastic bits--the rounded ends on the razor blade--made it nicer to get around the back sides of my ears. But that's the very point, there's a fundamental construction difference in the two razor packs, between the "Mach 3" and the "Venus" heads, even though the blades interchange between the fancy contoured Venus holder and the boring straight Mach 3 holder. Even the packaging is different, with the Venus razors coming in individually sealed cups, and the Mach 3 razors coming in the standard 5 pack magazine of blades.

    I dunno if Gilette charges more for the pink can of shaving cream than the blue one, though, because I use the HeadBlade brand of shaving cream on my delicate pate. Which comes in a yellow bottle, and isn't cheap either.

    Also, what R C Dean said below, about the priority of response.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Personally, I don't have much sympathy because its for a problem that doesn't exist. If men or women want a customized product, they pay more (Specifically "male", as opposed to unisex versions of products often run even more than womens'). Women just tend to be much more interested in buying customized products.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Let me see if I can expand. My clothes look pretty much the same as the clothes I bought 10, 20, and 30 years ago. If I want to be a fashion bug, I could go out and buy men's fashions. I'd pay a hell of a lot more than I do. But, there are also women's clothing makers who make simple basic clothes. They also tend to be relatively inexpensive. But, women prefer to keep up with the styles. And that's fine. No problem. But, don't argue there's some great cosmic injustice in saying that women spend more on clothes. Keeping up with fashion is a choice.

  • kbolino||

    You are coming awfully close to anointing yourself the arbiter of true libertarianism.

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    Studies like this do have value, but the unfortunate side-effect is that a number of people will see this and think, "There should be a law against this!", and not, "Now that I have better information I'll make better decisions." That's not an argument against efforts to help people become more informed and empower them to make better personal choices, it's just an explanation of the dismay I typically feel when I see the reactions to these sorts of things.

  • R C Dean||

    A significant dysfunction with libertarian thinking is that since the concern with coercion is so central, that it often becomes the only thing that matters.

    Its a matter of priorities. When we get actual, no-kidding, gun-in-your-face coercion down to a tolerable level, we might have time to solve the problem of women buying what they want.

  • Fairbanks||

    Where do you get the idea that libertarians feel that "the ONLY thing that matters is coercion?" Libertarians are against fraud, for example.

  • ||

    "So, if you take what it essentially the same product, color it pink, and call it a woman's razor and charge more for it, is there a problem here? Absolutely. Because while you are not using coercion, you are using manipulation."

    That doesn't fully capture it. Think of it as selling an identity, as well as a actual character traits. Consider manliness and femininity as global products and brands. So these aren't the same particular products, they contribute to and are affected by and contribute to something larger, and more impactful and meaningful. (Reduced: feeling like a man/woman can can be rather great. Many enjoy that, and it's only possible because the two are distinct and both exist.) Going further, contemplate essentialism, not simply in respect to sex. And exact replica of X is not found to be the same as X. See paintings, autographs, books and other items that were in a special person's possession, virtual versus actual reality, and so forth.

  • ||

    Corrected version, my apologies:

    That doesn't fully capture it. Think of it as selling an identity, as well as actual character traits. Consider manliness and femininity as global products and brands. So these aren't the same particular products, they contribute to and are affected by something larger, and more impactful and meaningful. (Reduced: feeling like a man/woman can can be rather great. Many enjoy that, and it's only possible because the two are distinct and both exist.) Going further, contemplate essentialism, not simply in respect to sex. An exact replica of X is not found to be the same as X. See paintings; autographs; books and other items that were in a special person's possession; virtual versus actual reality; and so forth.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    So, if you take what it essentially the same product, color it pink, and call it a woman's razor and charge more for it, is there a problem here?

    Not for anyone who doesn't expect others to be forced to cater to their irrational feelz. If I want something customized to my liking, I'll pay for it. I'm not going to demand that someone be forced to cater to my wants and needs.

  • Trshmnstr, terror of the trash||

    So pink or not, I could use a woman's razor. But it would feel weird to do so.

    I'm surprised nobody caught this. Your feeling weird is your own problem, not a "social issue" to be resolved by coercion.

    I have rather sensitive skin, and most men's skin products are entirely too strong, leading to dermatological issues. As a result, I end up using more feminine body wash, and I can't use a normal men's razor and shaving cream. I'm not somehow being oppressed because I pay more for the sensitive skin body wash and shave soap.

  • rudehost||

    When it comes to government policy it is in fact the only thing that matters. Nobody Libertarian wants to stop you from starting a consumer movement protesting razor price differences just don't expect us to consider it an issue suitable for government force. Libertarians have lots of interests and concerns about lots of different things. We just don't see a government gun as a legitimate solution to non-political problems.

  • rudehost||

    Grrr should have read
    "No Libertarian wants to stop you "

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    A species traitor you is, is you not? I see you is, do I not?

    It shows especially in you having to use the man font at reason.com. See? If they had a woman font and charged more for it, which would you use? Typical man world there at reason.com, refusing to give you the choice, probably in fear you would choose the man font and show up such studies for the nonsense they are; or is it that you would choose the woman font and prove how misogynistic reason.com is?

    My head spins.

  • Not okay||

    A lot of this has to do with the focus on Beauty products and some of that is due to rational choices by women. For example, if I spent significant time growing my hair, and spent money having it cut and styled I would likely consider the money spent on higher end products a better value. Some of those are cheap stuff rebranded but that cuts across all genders.

    More women make up the market for higher end products in this category.

    If you did the same study focused on tools, or automobiles you'd get the opposite. The higher end products are marketed towards men, and some of those are just cheap products rebranded.

  • ebohlman||

    Have to agree here: men and women are both willing to pay brand/status premiums for goods, but generally not for the same goods. Men tend to regard personal-care products (and to a lesser extent clothing) as utilitarian items, not Statements. As they generally do with dress shoes, but not with sneakers where they'll happily pay steep brand premiums for the show-off value. Women tend to be the opposite with shoes.

    As an aside, the sheer amount of pseudoscience involved in the marketing of women's personal-care products is breathtaking.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    Men spend more on similar (4 wheels and an engine) cars than women. It's an outrage if you ask me.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    Sorry

  • ||

    Well, that's surprisingly moderate for NYC. Compare that to the gender-identity non-truth thing they are so enarmored with (very postmodern).

    "The biggest price differentials were found for personal-care products (13 percent), adult clothing (8 percent), and home health care products (8 percent)." Men's demand for all this stuff is lower than women's. No wonder that this causes a price differential. One maybe should note that health care stuff actually might have health benefits. If anything, in this area, someone "structural" seems to be wronging men -- who have "false consciousness/preferences" and then perish five years earlier. Opposing that imagination, I hold that toughness and relative disregard for one's health do (also) have benefits relative to greater sensitivity (and sensibility). Trade offs between masculinity and femininity. Women's buying decisions also appear to be reasonable investments, interpersonally. They compete for men (and goods men can transfer), and companies participate in that (including gains). Lastly, these products do play a role in creating the greater likeability of women (WAW effect, see Eagly at al), they are pretty, nice, benevolent, and morally superior. (Consider the links of purity, cleanliness, disgust, and morality -- that stuff even has priming effects.)

    P.S.: It'd be interesting to compare the prices of wellness (female) and sports (male) articles. //By the way, check out Saad, The Consuming Instinct, Prometheus Books.

  • Robert||

    One of the products they compared that had the biggest price differential was personal urinals. Well, duh, if there's a reason for any product being different for boys & girls, it's got to be that!

  • SilentCal||

    It pisses me off that the response to this is always "the corporations are evil, we need government to stop them," and never "hey, there's a lot of demand for cheaper women's products. Since this study tells us that this likely wouldn't be cost prohibitive, I could start my own company to fill this demand, which would allow me to get rich and help women everywhere." I guess that one doesn't push the left's narrative of "CAPITALISM IS TEH EVIL" enough though.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I was going to repeat a lot of information from another source debunking this bullshit, but then I realized, why should I go to that trouble when I could just link it instead.

    One part I'd like to point people to is the statement from Gilette about the engineering of razors. I'd be able to give a time code if YouTube worked at work, but as it stands all I can do is get the link to the video

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HEr8zmVEZQ

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Oh, dear God.

    So, for all the feminists bitching about gender pricing, I have a suggestion. From here on out, I'll be happy to let you get the exact same products and services that men get. Want a haircut? Great. Be prepared for the barber to spend, max, 15 minutes on you. No cocktail. No shampoo. Clothes? Well, pants and a shirt. And don't count on much variation in patterns or styles.

  • Akira||

    "No cocktail."

    Wait a second... Women's salons serve cocktails while they get their hair done?? Is this a thing?

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    I go to an honest-to-god barber shop down the street that spends about 30 minutes and offers straight-razor shaves. Complimentary beer and bloody Marys. It's about $20 for a haircut, $10 for a shave.

  • UnCivilServant||

    That is more than I'm willing to pay for a haircut.

    And I'm not going to let anyone wave a straight razor at my throat. I'll deal with the beard, thank you very much.

  • Akira||

    That does sound kind of cool as a once-in-a-while thing. But if I were going to expect alcoholic beverages with my haircut, yes, I would expect to pay more and I wouldn't chalk it up to some evil systemic discrimination conspiracy.

  • Eman||

    that sounds illegal

  • Akira||

    The headline in the link to the Time Magazine article says that "women pay more for everything from birth to death".

    I wonder if they factored in the greater caloric needs of males, which requires them to buy more food over their entire lifespans.

  • ||

    "I wonder if they factored in the greater caloric needs of males, which requires them to buy more food over their entire lifespans." Smart.

  • GILMORE™||

    So what they seem to be saying is....

    ..... women so stupid that they routinely and predictably pay more for the same thing....just because its Pink and Smells like Lilac?

    When the cheaper option is right there in front of them, but just happens to be blue and says, "Extra Strength" on it?

    Wow. that must be really embarrassing, and I bet they're planning to change their behaviors so they don't over-spend in the future.

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    Well, there we have it: women are clearly inferior to men, being controlled by a Pavlovian response to the color pink and images of flowers. Do you really feel confident allowing someone who makes such a poor decision when it comes to something as minor as buying razors to become commander-in-chief? Hell, should they even be allowed to vote?

  • ||

    "Hell, should they even be allowed to vote?" I don't see a problem, when all things involved are pink.

  • Akira||

    I've noticed that same thing; I think it's a manifestation of the feminists' apparently belief that women have all kinds of gender-specific weaknesses and need special accommodations, but it's simultaneously the foulest sacrilege to suggest that total equality between the sexes isn't possible.

    Just like the "affirmative consent" thing. They'll say that "affirmative consent" needs to be the law because women might get paralyzed with fear if a man comes onto them and be literally unable to say no. If that's true, what basis is there for giving women equal rights when they're clearly not equal?

    (note: I'm in favor of equal rights for both genders. I don't think that women are helpless damsels, although some of them act that way because it gets them farther in life. I'm just pointing out the dissonance between two things that feminists say)

  • Robert||

    Once at Rite Aid I bought the women's disposable razors because they were cheaper than the men's at that time. Usu. it's the other way around, but it pays to check!

  • Robert||

    Ivory soap's also been considerably cheaper per oz. in the personal size than in the larger bath size at Rite Aid for months. Also a slight savings on Cokes in 1.25L over 2L bottles, even when there's a 2-for offer on the latter.

    I remember when women's products used to be more perfumey than men's. Some time around 1990 they switched that, so when I was still using underarm deodorant I looked for the women's instead of men's because the women's perfume was more tolerable. Then the biz studied & found out women weren't interested in buying non-antiperspirant deodorant at all, so they stopped marketing those, and the only choices in non-antiperspirant deodorants became the strongly-perfumed men's & the weirdly-perfumed "natural" kinds. So I stopped entirely, and by my age I hardly need it any more anyway.

  • Robert||

    "That face wash you're holding in your hand is most likely a marked up version of an identical men's product"
  • Robert||

    Hey, it cut off after the block quote & before my addition that both are way more expensive than a cake of soap for an equal functional quantity, that dif being far greater than that between men's & women's products. & it cut out my face-related witticism that the dif "tans" in comparison.

  • Empress Trudy||

    The last suit I bought cost $900. The shoes, $140. No woman would pay for that nor would they HAVE to. Of course their $100 moisturizer costs a hundred dollars more than what I pay - I pay zero.

  • Pat (PM)||

    It's payback for 200 years of ladies' night drink specials.

  • Eman||

    i alway thought "ladies night" was more of a draw for guys

  • BambiB||

    I'm going to go with the explanation that grants women a little intelligence and agency.

    That would be wrong.

    Women are responsible for electing Obozo.... twice.

  • MSimon||

    Women use a higher proportion of medical services than men do.

  • para_dimz||

    Somebody does not know how to shop. That's all I got to say.

  • MaleMatters||

    Men tend to be more insecure than women about their income. "Do I earn enough to attract a woman and gain society's respect?" That insecurity may, for example, lead men to fall more than women for the shady, expensive product that promises "great financial rewards." The insecurity may also compel more men than women to buy very expensive products to make them feel they are more attractive to the other sex: an expensive sports car they can barely afford.

    Women tend to be insecure than men about their looks. "Do I look good enough to attract a man and gain society's respect?" That insecurity may, for example, lead women to fall more than men for the shady, expensive beauty product that promises "great looks at the single scene." A test of a woman's insecurity may be to ask, "Which do you wash your hair with -- shampoo or a bar of soap?"

    The sexes' different purchasing behaviors are just a few of the behaviors that over the many decades have stemmed, perhaps not surprisingly, from the sexes' different courting behaviors. See:

    "The Sexual Harassment Quagmire: How To Dig Out" http://malemattersusa.wordpres.....-quagmire/

  • Nick W B||

    I looked at that study, its picking and choosing only a few categories of goods, mostly ones where men are traditionally cheap (no way in hell am I paying extra money for a brand name razor or pants) and woman traditionally are more willing to spend more for something that seems nicer. That's kinda typical price segmentation. But there are plenty of areas where its the opposite. I don't have the exact numbers, but I'm guessing men are more likely to spend extra on a powerful car that's not going to ever travel more than 85 mph or a stereo system that more faithfully reproduces sounds in frequencies no human can hear.

  • Fun at Parties||

    Asked my honey i she was aware of a "pink tax" and she said "Yeah it's BS. Just go compare Clinque women's facial mositurizer to the men's, and that Clinque won't even tell you how many ounces/ml are in the men's products online which is illegal."

    Then I went to look for myself and wow... that was eye opening. Where the author got the idea that it's a myth is silly because it's quite obvious there is.

  • Eman||

    as a commentor here noted on a story yesterday, what are the big industries driving the "living wage" nonsense? healthcare and education, the two most heavily regulated industries in the country. i know correlation and causation, etc, but that seems at least worth thinking about. kinda similar to how everyone starves under communism. upsettingly, wanting a thing doesnt automatically make them so.

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