The cost of being a woman


Jamilyn Hall, Opinions Editor

Jamilyn Hall

College students are no strangers to buying generic brands at the grocery store. But what if I told you just for choosing feminine products your price tag will almost always be higher?

According to the Washington Post, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs compared nearly 800 products with female and male versions. The DCA report, “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer,” released in December 2015, found that women’s products cost 7 percent more than similar products for men.

The “general toys” category marked an 11 percent difference between gender-based toys in a sample of 20 toys. The average girl’s toy was $29.49, whereas the average boy’s toy was $26.49. While pink paint may be expensive, it certainly shouldn’t drive up a $3 price difference. 

“There is an idea that there is money that women are willing to put towards to do the work of maintaining gender,” said Srimati Basu, professor of gender and women’s studies and anthropology at UK. 

But the price difference only gets worse as an adult. In the beauty section of the report, the DCA found that, out of 16 products tested, women’s shampoo and conditioner cost an average of $8.39, and men’s shampoo was $5.68 — a 48 percent difference. 

“Who is imagined as a female consumer? And what kinds of things are imagined? That I would go to the store and pick the product that said ‘women’s shampoo?’” Basu said. “So does it imagine me as kind of a dupe?”

While this may not seem like a big deal it discriminates by encouraging a principle of being charged more for buying a product specific to one’s gender. It is the principle of being charged more for femininity. Isn’t it bad enough that society says women need to shave their legs 365 days a year, but our razors costs 11 percent more?

The study’s findings suggest women are paying thousands of dollars more than men for similar products over the course of their lives. But why do we continue to pay for our gender? 

“We should think about exactly what the difference is. What exactly does it contain extra, or is that even necessary? Or is it just pink packaging?” Basu said.

Shouldn’t we, as adult women, have the common sense to pick up the men’s deodorant over the gender-marketed women’s version? Well, it isn’t that simple. 

As the report says, individual consumers do not have control over the textiles or ingredients used in the products marketed to them —they must make purchasing choices based only on what is available in the marketplace. 

While men’s deodorant may be cheaper, why would a woman, with any self-respect, want to smell like “Old Spice Swagger?” So next time when out shopping, you can forget the coupons as long as you have male genitalia.

Jamilyn Hall is the opinions editor of the Kentucky Kernel.

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