[Catie Allwright | Contributing Writer]
I’m frowning to myself as I contemplate how to even go about writing this, it’s disappointing to realise that there exists enough dispute on the matter to warrant an argument. Should women be allowed to vote? Should the intra-marital rape of women be considered a crime? Should women be charged more than men? As far as I’m concerned, all three questions are utterly ridiculous with a blindingly obvious answer to anyone who has one single moral fibre.
To give a little context, research by The Times found as follows: “The cost of clothes, beauty products and toys for women and girls is higher than equivalent items marketed at men and boys, according to an analysis of hundreds of products. In one case Tesco charges double the price for ten disposable razors simply because they are pink.”
At Boots, 100ml of Chanel’s Allure spray deodorant is £30 while the men’s version is available for £23.50 and at Argos, it costs £5 more to purchase a children’s scooter in pink as opposed to blue. The Independent highlights how this controversy follows the criticism of the UK’s so-called “tampon tax”, where VAT is charged for women’s sanitary products because they are classified as “non-essential luxury items.”
The Guardian comments: “Factor in the tampon tax and the pay gap (19.1% across all workers in the UK) and it becomes clear that, whenever they reach a till, women are effectively paying three times, once in their salaries, once in their spending, and once in a surcharge on any women-directed products in their shopping baskets.”
Superdrug is ahead of the game with both controversies. In response to revelations about the “tampon tax,” they have vowed to give customers extra points on their loyalty cards when Superdrug brand tampons and towels are purchased. Not only this, but they appear to operate a fair pricing scheme. Recently I went to pick up some pink razors in the ladies hair removal section, only to find they were out of stock. Instead I purchased the male counterpart which was identical in price and contents, aside from the fact that they were blue.
Not doing so well is Tesco, who claim that: “a number of products for females have additional design and performance features.” Similarly, Boots claim that their products are priced individually based on factors including: “ingredients and market comparison.” To me, this loosely translates to: “we make them pink and everyone else is charging more so we will too.”
The Independent took a look at unfair pricing in women’s favour: “In toiletries, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and bath products targeting women tended to carry higher prices, but specifically male-marketed skincare products can be significantly more expensive than equivalent women’s or unisex items.”
It’s ludicrous to expect anyone to be taxed on essential hygiene products or pay so much more for products that provide exactly the same function. The fundamental fact is that it’s not a luxury to need tampons, and the taboo of female body hair is so deeply ingrained that not only are we are expected to be permanently smooth, we are expected to pay more than men for the equipment to do so.
We profess to be a modern society, but this lack of equality echoes back several centuries. No, women should not be charged more. Men should not be charged more. But neither should anyone willingly pay more. The question, therefore, is how much is your gender worth to you? If women uphold gender stereotypes by only purchasing pink razors and parents only purchase pink toys for their daughters, then companies (as wrong as it is), will continue to exploit that demand. Ultimately, companies should be held accountable for their sexist surcharges, but we also need to take control and demonstrate that we won’t allow it.