It's not easy being a woman in 2015.
Decades after the feminist movement launched, we get paid less than men for the same work, we get gawked and hollered at on the street for simply existing, we get accused of having a bad attitude for simply acting the same way that men do.
And, it turns out, we can't even buy things ordinary things without being charged more money for them.
New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs issued a report after studying price differentials on all sorts of things: toys, clothing, over-the-counter stuff you'd buy at the pharmacy. The city's researchers looked at 794 items, came up with average prices, then compared the prices of similar products marketed toward men and women.
The agency found something that savvy female shoppers have suspected for awhile: if it's pink, and it says "for women," avoid it. If it's blue or black and marketed toward men, it's probably cheaper. But all of it is pretty much the same goddamn thing.
Of course there are products marketed to men that are also more expensive, but it happens much less frequently. These occurrences may just pertain to Axe Body Spray and Bieber cologne (kidding, kind of):
The biggest price discrepancy was in hair care products, at 48% (!!!), followed by razor cartridges, at 11%. Clothing had an 8% difference too, with the exception of undies, for which men pay 29% more. Go figure.
Even elderly women and little children appear to be taken advantage of by companies that sell personal products according to gender.
Below is an image of what the city's consumer watchdog found for adult diapers, which makes very little sense. If there is a valid explanation for the gender-based price discrepancy, I would love to hear it, but I can't fathom one.
Here's another regarding kiddie scooters, whose only difference is color. Maybe—maybe—you might think Target prices its scooters based on supply-and-demand dynamics, and the pink scooter was a lot more popular. But, in fact, a Target spokesperson told the Washington Post that it was due to a "system error." The same explanation as why the company sold black Barbies at more than double the price of white Barbies.
All of this is ridiculous.
As an aggressive price-comparison shopper who absolutely loves to shop, I can attest there's a certain "buyer beware" ethos to shopping in general, whatever your gender. You see a jacket you like at a department store, wait a few months, and suddenly the same jacket is heavily discounted or maybe it's available online right now for a fraction of the price.
But none of that caveat emptor has to do with gender-based marketing. I've seen those pink razors, those pink cushion shoe inserts that are the same size as the blue ones, those "For Women!" health supplements claiming added nutritional value, when there is no substantive difference in the ingredients—all priced higher than gender-neutral products, or those marketed towards men.
Companies try to sell goods for the highest price possible. We all know that. The government tries to stop abuses that occur in that process. But the latter doesn't always work. Until it does, consumers should avoid the pink packaging.
I oversee Fusion's money section and have spent most of my time as a journalist writing about banks and finance. I live in Brooklyn with my partner Geoffrey & our two dogs, Captain & Tallulah. Favs: leopard print, Diet Coke, gummy candy, Ireland.