Op-Ed

$1,351 – that’s all I want for Mother’s Day

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A couple years ago, I asked gift buyers not to follow the advice of advertisement flyers on what to buy me for Mother’s Day because I thought the gifts lacked ingenuity. I said unwavering gratitude was all I needed, but this year I am asking for $1,351. Apparently, this is the average amount of money women will spend paying pink taxes this year.

According to multiple exposés from around the world, it simply costs more to be a female consumer. And I don’t mean just BIC for Her pens kind of lunacy. It is identified as gender pricing, and it corrupts the market place – from women paying $200-$400 more for every new car in her lifetime to 0.4 percent or $25,000 more on 30-year mortgages.

Long before I even thought about having children, my workplace health insurance plan charged me nearly twice the amount of men because I was “of child-bearing age.” I almost got myself sterilized just to save the cash needed to follow Phish on tour. Luckily, the Affordable Care Act eliminated gender rating in 2014 so we will not have to decide between comprehensive health insurance and misguided musical choices.

But even the friendly folks at the dry cleaners charge twice as much to clean my shirts as they do dads, and, no, that is not because of material or embellishments. Sadly, it is also 4 percent cheaper for me to smell like a musky Lumberjack in the morning than Enchanted Cherry Blossoms. Women’s disposable razors and cartridges cost 11 percent more than men’s with the same blade count. Shampoos and conditioners marketed to women are 48 percent more than men’s even with the exact same ingredients.

In fact, all personal hygiene care products such as body washes, perfumes and lotions cost women on average 13 percent more than men. And don’t even get me started about the “tampon tax.”

Companies claim that it cost more to market to women, but these mark-ups include unisex purchases such as adult diapers, canes, rib bandages and compression socks.

And guess what? Gender pricing also includes toys. That bike helmet featuring a gray shark is $4.50 less than the rainbow unicorn one, the purple scooter cost more than the red one by almost $20 and even book bags covered in magnolia leaves was 5 percent more than the one with mossy turf.

One of my children really should win friends and influence people by wearing an I’m The Big or Little Brother T-shirt and trying to explain to folks that substituting the word sister is a 4 percent price increase. While states such as New York and California have banned gender-based pricing, our state has banned my child being able to wear that T-shirt to the restroom.

I know I speak for women everywhere when I say the most perfect and special gift retailers and marketers could give this holiday season would be to stop charging us like a mother.

Leigh Sanders of Raleigh is a teacher, writer and mother of two daughters, 7 and 10.

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