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GENDER BASED PRICING POLICIES: CAPITALISTIC JUSTIFICATION

Authors: Mrinal Datiwal and Nikhil Meena, IV year of B.A.,L.L.B. from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab



Pink Tax

Recorded or documented history is not sufficient enough to provide the grasp of discrimination between male and female. Imagine the very first conundrum where individuals as a society were required to conclude any hypothetical matter at that moment females of that group wanted to put forward their opinion. Can you tell me what men could have possibly said to suppress the women’s words? Maybe they were suppressed because of the pitch of their voice OR biological difference probably.


Contemporary times and the performance of women in every field have now proved that biological difference is a scam generated and executed by the patriarchs. Regardless of having development and women empowerment, there are certain areas where discrimination based on gender is still prevailing. To a significant extent, we all know about the discrimination women face in their jobs, society and at some points in their own house. This article is about a topic that is not explored properly because of a lack of awareness. Do you know in addition to central tax, state tax, property tax, entertainment tax etc. there is a tax without recognition known as “PINK TAX”? The pink tax is the extra monetary consideration women pay for products & services while the same services cost comparatively less for men. Western media has been using the term “Pink Tax” for quite a while, it is based on a stereotype that connects girls to pink and boys to blue colour.


Justifying as a marketing method

“Pink Tax” connote negativity and discrimination against women but at the same time, it could be seen as a concept reproduced by a group of feminists popularly known as Radical feminists. Let’s dig deep and evaluate whether it is gender-based price discrimination or just a marketing technique used by capitalistic businesses. The cost of any product whether designed for men or women is based on the quality and skilled labour used in it, not decided on the basis of gender.


Many times gender-based price variation is wrongly interpreted as gender discrimination calling it “Pink Tax”. Male and female are distinguishable, their bodily features have separate thresholds and varying requirements. So, comparing the price of products would be unfair. Arguing the existence of pink tax in basic necessity like personal care, haircut, dry cleaning, healthcare, clothing, etc. is like comparing the difficulty in eating a seedless watermelon with watermelons full of seeds.


Example – A brand launches a moisturising lotion priced @ 100 INR, after great demand it launches a moisturising lotion tagged with spf50+dermatologist authenticity for people with sensitive skin especially women priced @ 150 INR. What you think is it a marketing technique OR gender-based price discrimination / Pink tax? It is reasonably priced more as better sun protection & approval of dermatologists will increase the cost of manufacturing.


It is often argued that women earn less in our country and biggest example could be our Bollywood film industry where the gap of payment is wide between male and female actor but at the same time the factors of skills, screen time presence is not taken in consideration, in any typical Bollywood movie male actor works more than the female lead hence extra remuneration. To prove the point please take a look at films like “Padmavat” “Queen” where female leads were paid more than male as their work speaks for itself.


"In general, most of our choices in life are determined by marketing and advertising. With this in mind, we are drawn towards products that are marketed to make us feel prettier or fairer, etc. For this, I am certain we pay the 'extra' price," said Dr. Surbhi Singh, a practising gynaecologist and founder and president of the menstrual awareness NGO 'Sacchi Saheli'.[1]


Since women are more concerned about their appearances, the textile and cosmetic industry do sell products at higher costs but this is because of their money-making or capitalistic mentality and not because they are sexist. For e.g.-you may seem a man wearing the same t-shirt for a whole week but such is not the case with women, their closet is wider than men and it is evident that capitalistic business work on a demand & supply basis if demand is more then there will be a price increase.


It is plausible to see this price variation as gender-based discrimination as only selected class of individuals are targeted but the characteristics of every agenda are determined by the goal it sought to achieve, previous segment of the article emphasized shifting the view from gender-based price discrimination to money-making schemes because the goal of this extra charge is not to discriminate but to earn extra profit. Pink tax may not be what it is shown i.e. gender-based price discrimination but it doesn’t mean that it is morally justified, point of conflict is not sexism but the profit-making money-minded exploitative capitalistic industries. “Women are often perceived by big corporations and brands as ‘feeble’ minded insecure targets used solely for instilling profits.”[2] There is no ethical point to justify the price difference, just because pink paint was used instead of blue doesn’t give the right to industries to set the varying cost of products. What could be done to tackle this menace is given below:


Awareness

To defeat something immoral the first thing we have to do is put it in front of individuals. Corporations get away with these varying prices because there is a lack of awareness. A survey revealed that about 67% of all people haven’t even ever heard about the Pink Tax.[3] Readers may have heard about the time when 12-14% GST was levied on sanitary pads & other hygienic products designed for women, sanitary products were marked as “Luxury products” instead of “Essential products”. This step of government was tagged as “Tampon tax” and spread widespread protests on social media, especially Twitter, under the campaign name #LahuKaLagaan, meaning “blood tax”. There were more than 4,00,000 signatures via online petition from activists, actors, politicians and comedians and eventually led the government to revoke this “tampon tax” in 2018.[4]


Embargoing discriminatory Brands

“Every branded product has a real value and a perceived value. If the perceived value is higher, so will be the price. Marketers understand the consumers’ expectations and willingness to pay. Often, we pay for the packaging too, and not just for women’s products,” says Santosh Desai to Outlook India. One thing which can be done is boycotting brands that have discriminatory pricing tags for different genders. Promoting and using unisexual products is one of the ways to go to tackle cost-based discrimination.


Endnotes

[1]Sharma, Shraddha. “Gender tax: From clothing to cosmetics, why are women paying more for products despite earning less?”. MoneyControl. 28 July 2019. Available at - https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/gender-tax-why-are-women-paying-more-for-products-despite-earning-less-4248501.html (Last accessed on - 14 February 2021)

[2] Jamil, Nabeela. “The Horrifying Reality of The Pink Tax: Why Does it Cost More to Be a Woman?”. Feminism in India. 9 October 2018. Available at -https://feminisminindia.com/2018/10/09/pink-tax-women-cost/ (Last accessed on – 17 February 2021)

[3]Damani, Vidhi. “Pink Tax- The Additional Cost of Being a Woman”. GNLU Journal of Law & Economics August 2019. Available at - http://gjle.in/2020/08/19/pink-tax-the-additional-cost-of-being-a-woman/(Last accessed – 18 February 2021)

[4]ibid

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