Pink Tax Further Perpetuates Period Poverty

The+Islander+Feminists+group+at+TAMU-CC+strives+to+end+period+poverty+by+distributing+period+product+dispensers+on+campus+and+publicly+advocating+to+raise+awareness+on+period+poverty.

Photo courtesy of Islander Feminists.

The Islander Feminists group at TAMU-CC strives to end period poverty by distributing period product dispensers on campus and publicly advocating to raise awareness on period poverty.

College students are not strangers to shoe-string budgets with recent studies revealing that this struggle is exacerbated by gender discriminatory pricing. This phenomenon is referred to as the “pink tax”, this is not an actual tax, but rather a gender-based price discrepancy. 

“The pink tax is a sexist divide in our economy involving inflated prices on many necessary goods to leech profits off of women. This is discriminatory marketing and pricing, especially when you consider that the quality and products catered to women are practically the exact same, if not made even cheaper, than most men’s products,” stated Molly Davis, Co-President of the TAMU-CC Islander Feminists organization and sophomore marketing major.

Although it may be difficult to pinpoint how serious and costly the pink tax problem is, data shows that the problem is very real. According to a 2015 study published by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, women pay 7% more for toys and accessories, 4% more for children’s clothing, 8% more for adult clothing, 13% more for personal care products, and 8% more for senior/home health care products. 

According to a 2021 study by the insurance company Jerry, women pay $142 more than men per year for car ownership, $117.12 more than men when buying new cars, and $22.94 more than men for car repairs. 

Along with the pink tax, menstruators across America must also pay the “tampon tax”, which is a charge on menstrual products. According to Global Citizen, golf club memberships and erectile dysfunction pills are typically tax-exempt. Meanwhile menstruators in 30 out of 50 U.S. states, including Texas, must pay a luxury tax on period products needed for a routine bodily function. 

“Continued community aid and more societal awareness is necessary to help end the pink tax and period poverty. Nobody should struggle with access to period products or worry about how they will afford to menstruate. We shouldn’t have to pay for hygiene products, or at the very least not at an inflated price,” Davis stated.

Issues like the pink tax and tampon tax disproportionately affect those in period poverty, according to the Global Citizen. Period poverty is a lack of access to menstruation products. According to a study published by BMC Women’s Health in 2021, 500 million people who menstruate lack access to period products and hygiene facilities, and almost two-thirds of women in the U.S. with a low income could not afford menstrual products in the last year.

“If all men had periods, I have no doubt that period products would be free. I am happy that our organization was able to establish free menstrual products in TAMU-CC restrooms, but the communities that need this the most can’t afford to attend university in the first place,” Davis stated.

There is no simple solution to ending the pink tax or period poverty; however, national advocacy, increased education, further research, and protective legislation are a few ways to reduce these issues, according to Medical News Today. Additionally, women may try to avoid the pink tax by shopping for gender neutral products or products targeted towards men and conducting research prior to car buying and repairs.