The Vah Jay Jay Tax

The Vah Jay Jay Tax

Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,19 January 2016

It’s been a month since the eventual Queen of Everything last checked in but don’t doubt that I’ve been thinking of my dear chickadees all the while. Right before Christmas a story broke that got little attention as we all rushed around for the holidays and dealt with terrible things like mass shootings and more mass shootings.

Now it seems like a good time for that previously underreported story to get some air time so let’s talk about how women pay hella more for crap than our be-testicled comrades. It’s not a new story but the fact that it continues into 2016 is deplorable. Whether we’re talking about mortgages, dry cleaning, toys, or clothing, women pay a hefty vah jay jay tax, whether we recognize it or not.

– Women pay .4% higher mortgage interest rates than men
– Shampoo and conditioner cost 48% more if you’re a woman even when the products use the same ingredients
– Women’s deodorant costs $1.44 per ounce more men’s
– Without negotiating at all, 2 out of 5 white men get better deals on cars than white women (and waaaaay more than black women) who bargained for more than 40 minutes
– Clothes cost women 8% more
– Target once marketed the same exact RadioFlyer scooter at $24.99 when painted red for boys and $49.99 when painted pink for girls
– Gendered pricing starts early on when it comes to imports. A 2012 investigation found that men’s sneakers were taxed at 8.5% while women’s sneakers were taxed at 10%
– Until the Affordable Care Act outlawed the practice in 2014, women paid $1 billion more in annual health costs than men

And this behavior of gendered pricing is totally legal except in California, New York City, and Miami-Dade County in Florida. California banned the practice after a 1994 study found that women pay $1351 annually more for the same services than men. And just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean it’s not still happening there; it just means when you find it happening you can report their asses. It is having an effect. In many NYC salons, hair stylists charge per minute. So if you’ve got a simple hairstyle, you’ll no longer pay more than your similarly unfussy male pals.

Economists, marketers and scads of totally uninformed people have offered up a bunch of reasons for this gendered pricing, which goes by the not-at-all-patronizing name of Pink Tax. An assistant professor of marketing at the University of Portland posited that men are more loyal to brands and aren’t as susceptible to “fragrance or buzzwords.” He thinks females look at the price difference as “a little small way for me to treat myself”; more likely we’re too busy rushing around and have it drilled in our brains by marketing miscreants that the pink brands are specially made for our lady parts and there’d be something wrong with us if we chose a more masculine looking bottle of body wash.

Here’s where you’ll tell me that men get overcharged too and you’d be right. Not for a lot of things but men are overcharged at night clubs (“ladies night”) and when it comes to car insurance in ‘Murica. Women are offered better deals on car insurance because they tend to drive fewer miles than men and get in fewer accidents than men.  For example, the FBI reported in 2012 that 743,029 men were arrested for drunk driving, compared to 244,195 women. However, the European Court of Justice ruled against that particular kind of gendered pricing and ordered companies to sell car insurance to men for the same rates as they do women.

When I become Queen of Everything, gendered pricing will be no more. Any asshat company or salesperson that tries to score off the backs of women by spray-painting shit pink will be sentenced to wear a neon pink, sequined suit (which they will have to pay more to have dry cleaned) and a pink A on their foreheads to denote their asshattery. They will also have to pay a fine that will go to fund girls’ education projects so that those little girls can grow up to be lawyers to sue the crapweasels, marketers who won’t pander to gender stereotypes, or whatever else their little hearts desire.

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Image Credit: Matt Preston on Flickr

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