The High Costs of Being a Woman

I recently read an interesting article about the higher costs women pay for products used by both sexes. Being a man, I never really gave much thought to this, but began noticing it after I got married in 2003. I always figured that people invested about as much of their income on hygiene and beauty products as I did: less than 2% (it would be less, but I have to use special soap and shampoo). Of course, I learned very quickly that I wrong, and my wife was paying considerably more for products similar to those I was using like shaving cream, soap, shampoo, and so on.  The article includes graph comparing men’s and women’s shaving cream from the same manufacturer, with the product for women costing $0.80 more, and containing 2.5 fl. Oz. less product. Seriously?!?! That’s insane! What’s worse is that the trend is not at all likely to change.

Since brands are able to assign gender to certain products, and convince us of that gendering, are people going to bother to check the label to see if the product advertised for men contains the same ingredients as that advertised for women? I doubt it. Why would they if the packaging already tells them the products are different? So, how can this psychological hold be broken? What if there was a law passed that a company could not charge more for a given product just because it was packaged and marketed differently? This seems like a very unlikely possibility in the U.S. This doesn’t leave very many options open as long as demand is also still extremely high for such products. It would take a concerted effort, such as a boycott, to put some real pressure on the companies that produce these products. Perhaps, when appropriate, of course, women should try to purchase the product packaged for men. If the demand for products packaged for women fell enough, and for a long enough period, companies might rethink their pricing strategy.

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