If you are anything like me, you absolutely hate spending more money than necessary. The best things in life are free- plus tax, of course. As Americans, we pay taxes, which I think we can all agree are expensive and difficult. Growing up, my mother had a hard time paying for female hygiene products and female necessities. She grew up in Gadsen, Alabama with a very poor family who could not afford extra taxes and had to scrap change to pay for products. Her family had a hard-enough time paying for the necessities in life that it became more of a struggle to buy feminine hygiene products for more than one female in the household when she entered her teenage years. Her parents did not have enough money to begin with and did not have well-paying jobs, so my mother struggled as a teenager with buying tampons. I remember there were sometimes where she had to ask her friends to buy her a box because the money was towards groceries and bills. Since her childhood, both my mother and father have worked to make sure I do not have the same struggles as her. Let’s discuss the struggles the luxury tax puts on women and how it hurts instead of helps, how the tax is unequal to women, and how we can help resolve the issue to better benefit women with simple solutions men and women can participate in.
Taxes. We all pay them, whether we want to or not. So, let’s take a deeper look into the problem with some taxes, or more specifically the pink tax. The pink tax is the extra amount of money women spend for certain products or services. As women, we are affected by the costs, the liability of the products, and the misogynistic views on products. My question is, women make less to begin with so why make them pay more? Well, in 2011, researchers in the University of Florida found that women paid more for hygiene products including razors, deodorant, and body spray at national retailers. These products are used by both genders and should not be priced unequally. The difference does not make any sense! The only difference is the fact one looks normal and the other looks like Barbie threw up on it. I mean, seriously, who asked for the over load of flowers and pink? The Tax Foundation states that feminine hygiene products are taxed on average between 2.9% and 7.5% more than their male counterparts, and some local governments add their own taxes on these products. Really, has it not been stated that women paid less to begin with so paying more than necessary is not helpful at all? The fact of the matter is, a great rate of women in America struggle to pay such high expenses for hygiene with a low-income family, which make up to 10.4 million families in a study in 2011 by pbr.org. We as women already struggle with different forms of oppression and different forms of views being thrown onto us. I must live with the fact that I will spend over three thousand dollars over my lifetime on menstrual products and lose a good percentage of that money on unnecessary taxes that I had to pay because I am female. This tax is the maddening effects of companies charging more for the “female” version of a variety of products sold to men. For example, young girl’s clothes cost 4% more than young boy’s clothes, and women’s accessories are 7% more with women’s clothing being 8% more than male accessories and clothing. Female consumers find themselves paying higher prices than necessary for general goods. I know a bunch of women who would absolutely love to hear ‘death to the tampon tax!’ and throw a party. Really, this tax is just used as a form of oppression and women are definitely not a fan of this. Female consumers pay more for services like car deals, dry cleaning, and even plus size clothing. This tax does not only affect female hygiene products, but the many products a woman purchases in her lifetime. This is something that is still greatly affecting women in negative ways. I will say this is not only difficult to women, but their bank accounts don’t appreciate it either.
I ask myself a lot, how do we as women still fight for our rights and our freedom when we are constantly at a loss? I mean, women lose between 1,500 to 3,000 dollars on the pink tax to products being taxed extra. That loss of money is completely not beneficial to women and lower income families. Dana Berkowitz, an associate professor of Sociology, Women and General at LSU states, “Taxing them (women) has more devasting consequences.” Research shows that women are actually unhappy with this tax! Women cannot always afford to do what they want because they have wasted money on extra taxes just for being a woman. The new excuse for women to not go out is the fact they bought tampons and paid the luxury tax because tampons are luxury items. Lower income families are affected the most by this unneeded tax used to profit more on already struggling women and families. Lower income families are affected the most by this tax because they are the ones counting every single penny they can to afford things for their family. This tax causes so many implications to many families and is definitely something women are not fond of towards their bank account. I mean, this tax has benefited the government, who get paid so much more than women anyway their tax dollars from women who are just losing money to begin with. Plus-sized women lose even more money from the fact plus-sized clothes are taxed and naturally priced more than plus-sized male clothing. They have to add those taxes to the ones they already have for being a woman! What a life to have to literally pay more for being a size 14 AND being a woman. The American system has found many ways to oppress women physically and mentally, and now we are attacking their wallets. It was more noticeable before the Affordable Care Act when women paid higher health insurance premiums than their male counterparts. Women just have always been an object of oppression for centuries, and this tax has been one of the effects on women that has tried to make them seem less of a person.
Because women pay so much on hygiene products, a company called the Cora Tampons started a brand of affordable, organic tampons for women. This is a very efficient product and a very affordable, easy thing for women who are menstruating. Cora claims they are committed to “giving all women access to safe and effective period products.” They are strong believers that the menstrual cycle should not be used for harm, shame, or uncertainty and believes menstrual products are not a luxury, but essential to a female’s life. People need to take a stand against the tax, including signing petitions! Everyone can help equalize America by supporting the Pink Tax Repeal Act, which aims to make pricing fair to women. Already 5 states have acted and passed bills to help equalize women’s pay and the tax they are forced to pay based on gender.
So, signing petitions and talking to your local governors really makes a difference. You would be helping your sisters, your mother, your girlfriend, or even your wife. Taking action against the unequal tax would be helpful not just to your family, but to everyone in America. As women, we seek your help and your guidance to help us fight for what’s right. I am trying to speak out not just for myself, but for every woman who cannot seem to find her voice and speak for what is right.