A few weeks ago, I went to CVS to purchase some men’s body wash.
I did not buy the body wash because I enjoy the crisp, manly scent of Suave Sport Recharge (though I honestly don’t know how anyone on Suave’s marketing team thought that “sport recharge” was a scent). I bought it because it was cheaper than the women’s body washes.
Fast forward a few days when I was getting ready to go out to a concert with some friends at a local bar. I was all showered, smelling as sporty and recharged as ever, when we arrived at the bar. The group of us, five girls and one guy, gave our IDs to the bouncer at the door and pulled out our wallets to pay the show fee. The man stopped us, “Single ladies get in for free,” he said. He smiled at us girls, and then pointed a thumb at our friend Brad, “He just has to pay.”
It was in this moment that I was officially enraged by gender-based price discrimination.
Initially, it doesn’t make sense. I paid less to see the concert, isn’t that a good thing? I don’t think so. Because after years of paying more than men for body wash, razors, clothing, haircuts and dry cleaning, I finally found mercy for my plight in product pricing at the hands of a bar bouncer who was only charging me less as an incentive to pack the bar with women for the benefit of the other men there.
Gender-based price discrimination is the act of selling the same product at different prices to different genders. It has been occurring for years, and it is an issue for all genders, not just women. A report by the Wall Street Journal found that New York nail salons have been known to charge men more for manicures. Car insurance companies are known to charge men more because they tend to drive more recklessly than women.
But overwhelming evidence shows that women are the ones that bare the brunt of this pricing discrimination. The New York Department of Consumer Affairs released a report that studied five different industries (kids toys, kids clothes, adult clothes, adult personal care products and adult health care products) and found that in every industry, female products cost more than male products. In 1994, the state of California studied the issue of gender-based pricing of services and estimated that women effectively paid an annual “gender tax” of approximately $1,351 for the same services as men. Like, bruh. Do you know how fast that adds up?
Again, guys are discriminated against as well, but concerts and bars that offer “ladies night” deals (cough, The Bench, cough) that charge women less for entry to its venue than men are a much more complicated story. Understandably, guys have been outspokenly angry about these “ladies night” deals, and they have every right to be. After all, they’re being charged more for nothing. But as a woman, can you imagine how aggravating it is to see that even an act that discriminates against men still finds a way to degrade women at the same time, and nobody is talking about it.
Men having to pay extra for entry to a bar or concert is wrong, but women are paying less in exchange for feeling devalued and exploited. I’m not saying that all men are at the bar for the sole purpose of picking up other women, but that is a huge part of it. If it wasn’t, then why would the price difference exist? Why would bars feel so inclined to pack the club with women instead of men?
Companies should not incentivise women with cheap entry fees for the benefit of another gender, then claim that this deal is actually for them because they got to pay less at the door. Women are not putting in more work or time to earn a lower priced entry at bars. Men are not receiving any special treatment by having to pay more to get in. Women are being charged less for entry at these places because they are a sexually desired object. That is not beneficial – it is absurd.
Whether it’s buying body wash or packing bodies at a bar, I should feel equal to every other customer. I don’t really mind smelling sporty and recharged, but it would be nice to pay a cheaper price for products without being treated as something cheap as well.