Hey Big Gender: Why are women being charged more for stuff?
If you've ever felt like the cost of being a woman was somehow higher than that of being a man, guess what? You were literally correct! Via Psychology Today:
The January 2010 Consumer Reports has an article that's sure to provoke some outrage. "Roam any drugstore and you'll see products that seem to be twins, except for one thing: One is for women, the other for men. We discovered that products directed at women-through packaging, description, or name-might cost up to 50 percent more than similar products for men."
Apparently, women are being charged more for the same products as men, though no one has a great explanation so far as to why this is. Consumer Reports asked manufacturers to weigh in and got half-assed excuses (women shave in the shower so they need better cans!) at best. An experiment to get to the bottom of this (detailed in the article) at the University of Vermont showed that when asked to bargain with an unseen partner, "both women and men unconsciously set higher 'prices' for female partners." Somehow, even when it is allegedly not a conscious decision, manufacturers charge a higher price for products marketed to women. Which sucks, obviously.
An explanation not explored in the article is that manufacturers know that women are under more pressure when it comes to beauty standards, and therefore might be willing to pay more for cosmetic products. If we're consistently told that we must have soft skin at all costs or no one will ever want to kiss us, we just might pay that extra $0.49 to get the high tech skin-softening lotion. If we're consistently told that we must eradicate all PMS symptoms at all costs or no one will ever want to kiss us, we might buy the menstrual cramp Excedrin without checking to see if the ingredients are the same as the headache one.
So what's the deal here? Do most manufacturers harbor an unconscious resentment of female consumers? Is it a conscious resentment? Do women somehow require more complicated and expensive products because of our maze-like ladyparts and our unpredictable mood swings? Have you ever noticed this phenomenon? If so, what do you do about it?
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