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The new Gillette television commercial that boldly decided to take on toxic masculinity has done exactly what it set out to do.
It started a rumbling in the media and drew a line in the sand, separating the men who supported the important #metoo and #timesup movements and the men who felt threatened by them.
Not being one who ever watches television, I was completely unaware of this nearly two-minute commercial, but once I heard of it and watched, I was touched deeply. Being the father of three daughters, it left me with a lump in my throat and not a little emotion.
I have an incredible amount of respect for the Gillette corporation for fighting the good fight and helping to keep an important conversation right in the forefront of the nation’s mind—but I couldn’t help feeling, as long as they were being so altruistic in their championing of America’s women, perhaps they wouldn’t mind doing something about the “pink tax,” which they seem to be financially benefiting from.
The “pink tax,” as you may or may not know, is the term for the phenomenon of gender-based price discrimination on products aimed specifically at women.
In 2015, the Department of Consumer Affairs in New York City conducted a study and found, across the board, an increase in cost on most female-targeted products 8 to 10 percent higher than similar products aimed toward a male demographic. When it came to products relating to personal care (are you listening, Gillette?), the increase was as much as 13 percent.
It can get even worse than this, too.
An anecdotal study by the folks at NPR’s “Planet Money” found that—quite ironically—similar razors with no qualitative difference could have as much as a 56 percent price difference. This can get frustrating for many reasons, but the most vexing aspect of this travesty is that women tend to also get paid less for the same occupations.
The causes of this discrepancy are many and varied, but it is believed that women have been observed by marketers as being less price elastic than men. What that means, really, is that women don’t spend as much time sweating over the price of an item as men typically do. In other words, these companies feel like they can get away with it, and so they do.
One way women have rallied against this discrimination is to just not buy the products.
In terms of razors, it’s not such a big deal for a woman to shave with a blue one instead of a pink one. With the price gouging in the area of feminine hygiene products, women have fewer options though. Alternatives exist, but Venus Cups and the like have not yet been embraced by the mainstream in a meaningful way.
Here’s what I’m seeing as the bottom line: when you put women in a position where the products they want and need are substantially higher priced, in addition to paying them less for the same jobs, it is once again a power move by the patriarchy to subjugate women through economic inequality.
Does that sound too drastic?
I have yet to see any proof that this is not the case, although I’m completely open to hearing information that contradicts this.
Until that time, I’d like to take a moment and thank Gillette for coming to the aid of our beleaguered moms, sisters, and wives.
Now how about doing something about that pink tax?