By: Madi Tortora
Recently, legislation has been introduced pertaining to exempting feminine hygiene products, such as tampons and pads, from America’s sales tax. The bill began in California, but has slowly made its way to other states, including Utah, New York and Virginia. Comparing tampons to groceries, both necessities one in the same, advocates believe that tampons should be tax-free as well.
According to a press release by California Assembly member Cristina Garcia, on average, women in California pay about $7 per month for 40 years of tampons and sanitary napkins. Statewide, it adds up “over $20 million annually in taxes.”
For starters, this is being conservative. An average box of tampons is yes, $7 at your local Walgreens. But this is not including women who have heavier menstrual flow, who may actually need to use both tampons and pads together. A box of pads or panty liners at the local Walgreens also averages to cost about $7.
So now, the bill is around $14, and without even incorporating any pain medication, like Midol for example. 40 capsules of Midol costs approximately $8.99 at this same, aforementioned Walgreens. The customer is now walking out of the store, having spent about $22.99 to last maybe a month. As broken down by a Huffington Post article, being a woman costs approximately $18,171 from age 13-51, because of extra items such as heating pads, chocolate, birth control, and extra underwear (which all women know is inevitable).
Essentially, we as women are being taxed for being…well, women. It’s difficult to believe that tampons and pads are a luxury item to anyone, especially women. But this tax does not just end here. This ‘gender tax’ or ‘pink tax’ makes female specific things higher in price. For example, a Schick Hydro Silk razor that is specified for women is $9.97, whereas one specified for a man is $8.56. At Target, a Radio Flyer My First Scooter in red is $24.99, whereas a pink, girl-specified scooter of the same brand is $49.99. Although this is not true for every single male-specific item, it’s important to face the facts.
According to a study of gendered pricing released by New York City Department of Consumer Affairs last year, shampoo and conditioner marketed to women cost an average of 48 percent more than those marketed to men, while women’s jeans cost 10 percent more than men’s, and girls’ bikes and scooters cost 6 percent more than boys’. Overall, the study found products marketed to women cost more 42 percent of the time.
Women have, in response to this, began buying male-specific products to prove that, although one product may be pink, they work the same. Many women have even found that the male specific products even perform better.
The issue here lies in the fact that women already statistically make less money than men, and are being charged more for the same product. The cost of being a female consumer is getting higher and higher over time.
All around us, women are standing together against inequality. By tweeting #gendertax and #pinktax, they are bringing awareness to the situation and calling for an end to luxury taxing on necessary items and gendered pricing. By doing this, it shows the world that we see what’s going on, and there will be no more standing by as it happens.