If you enter a superstore such as Target or Walmart to buy toiletries, you may gravitate towards the section labeled “for women” or “for men” depending on how you identify.
Often, products such as razors, shaving cream, body lotion, deodorants, and cleaning products are targeted towards appropriate genders. Obvious signs include women’s products being pink or lavender with more calligraphical writing and gentler scents. Products for men are black with block letters, and smell like nature or spices. Since gendered toiletries have been a norm for so long, nobody bats an eye at them. It’s simply assumed that women prefer what is being marketed to them, which is why they continue to buy them. At least in these cases, the products designed for both genders are different in some way.
However, more and more products are beginning to be sold with a gendered take on them. Multiple blogs and websites such as one on tumblr have compiled all the examples of outrageous and unnecessarily gendered products, in which the exact same product in different packaging is being directed to either men or women. This includes items such as pens, Q-tips, granola, headphones, and laundry detergent.
This creates a problem because it widens the already huge gender gap. If a packet of ballpoint pens is being sold for women in a bright pink package, it shows the children (and even adults) who see it that there has to be an inherent separation between genders. It also tells them that people have to be of one gender and like it–they are not allowed to cross over or reject gender altogether. Women are pink and men are blue; it’s that simple.
Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Creating a gender gap creates even more problems among cisgender people and transgender people. Transphobia is already a major problem, exemplified currently in the fight for gender neutral bathrooms. A majority of the population is already refusing to accept that even though a transgender person looks a certain way, they do not identify the way they look! Part of the blame can be attributed to the fact that society will not even allow a cisgender male to use shampoo that smells like flowers.
While gendered products are harmful because they enforce stereotypes, they attack females even further. We’ve all heard of the “female tax” in which women are charged more for the products made for them than men are. According to MarketWatch, women’s products cost 7% more than men’s products, and women have ended up spending nearly $1400 more yearly than men.
Manufacturers have argued that it is because it costs more to create a product for women than for men, however a study done revealed that in most cases the ingredients and costs were the same, but women were still being charged extra. Unfortunately, most of the time women do not even notice the price difference because they do not look at products targeted for men. In some cases, they may think that the more feminine product is designed for them, even thought it is not.
This is not limited to products you can buy at a superstore. A Marie Claire article revealed that dry cleaners discriminate against women by charging them more for their clothing or refusing to apply sales to their purchases. Women will also find themselves paying more for mortgages, cars, clothing, and even insurance.
This is unfair for all the women who prefer the products targeted to them and are forced to pay more for what they like. Women make a significant amount less than men, and yet at the end of the day they are paying more.