Pink tax forces students to think again

Graphic by Valerie De La O.

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College is a financial hurdle without factoring in the cost of living.

After forking up thousands of dollars in tuition and student fees and ordering hundreds of dollars worth of textbooks, students still have to feed and clean themselves. As a female student, it can be frustrating and embarrassing when that time of the month rolls around and I can’t afford a pencil, let alone a pad or tampon.

There are cases where women are forced to choose between hygiene and education. Men and women should be given the same opportunities to learn and grow, yet it seems manufacturers have found a monetary loophole to limit female academic success.

By taxing a much-needed item and treating feminine hygiene products as a luxury instead of a necessity, governing bodies are telling women it is our choice to have a period. Let me make you a promise: no one signs up for this.

Legislators are making headway, however, and one-by-one states are choosing to exempt pads and tampons from state taxes, which is a great step in the right direction. Resources are popping up around the nation to offer female students free feminine hygiene products, like the Women’s Resource Center at Dixie State University. 

Whereas some progress is being made to limit the unfair treatment of women when it comes to pads and tampons, there still seems to be this mysterious pink tax. It’s not a literal tax but rather the idea that feminine products, usually pink, are more expensive than masculine products.

Going to the supermarket, I try to buy things as cheaply as I can — I’m the stereotypical broke college student. Imagine my surprise when looking at razors and deodorant to find that almost anything marketed toward women is more expensive than identical — or almost identical — products geared toward men. For example, a set of blue Gillette disposable razors are somehow cheaper than the same amount of pink Gillette disposable razors, and the only difference being the color and that the pink ones are called “Daisy.”

It’s an easy fix to just grab the men’s deodorant and blue razor and be on my merry way, but that’s not the point. For so long women have had to fight for equality. Men didn’t have to wait to vote or hold a government job. Today there is this idea that if a woman is fighting for equality she is being overdramatic or ungrateful.

Instead of taking sides, let’s look at the facts. Men’s products are cheaper, sometimes for no discernable reason, and women are being taxed for items we need each month. It’s easy to look at these statements and think “well what can I do about it?”

Let’s petition our legislators to stop taxing feminine hygiene products. Let’s support brands with unisex products or with gender-specific products at equal prices. Let’s support public resources that offer free feminine hygiene products to women in need. Let’s offer free feminine hygiene products in public bathrooms.

Big change starts with each person making smaller changes in their lives.