Wednesday, May 16, 2012

That's Why I'm So Broke?

Put those packages back!
You can't afford them!
I've noticed since the "War on Women" started (by started, I mean became something we talk about all the time), that I've been reading more and more articles about how expensive it is to be a woman.  Jezebel had the article This is How Much it Costs to Own a Vagina, an Itemized List.  Then yesterday, LearnVest had a whole list of gendered pricing, which kind of blew my mind.

I admit, I've thought about this before.  Since I'm a girl who does not spend a lot of money grooming myself, I've often wondered how women who do can actually afford it.  I've had one manicure/pedicure in my life and it was done at a beauty school where it was significantly cheaper than if I had gone to a real salon. Sure it was a fun afternoon, but it cost $15!  That was twice my hourly wage at the time.

Add to that the cost of make-up, clothes, shoes, hair (on your head and everywhere else) and I honestly do not understand how some women pay for it all.  Perhaps they're in debt, maybe that's what I'm not seeing.

Looking at BF and I, he has pointed out numerous times that he has fewer expenses than I do.

  • He doesn't own a car so does not have to pay for gas, upkeep or insurance.  He does give me a bit of money for use of my car, but I pay the bulk of it.  
  • He can wear whatever he wants to work and only owns about four pairs of pants.  Yes, I like to dress well, that's a choice, but I also need to have a lot of clothes for a lot of different situations--work wear, casual wear, fancy dress etc.  He wears the same thing all the time.
  • I pay $50 for my haircuts, he pays $12.
  • I have to buy tampons, he doesn't
  • I have more than one pair of shoes, he doesn't.  Granted, this is a choice, but I can't wear a single pair of sneakers to work every day like he can.
  • I buy moisturizer, lotions, body wash, face wash, hair potions, razors etc., he uses bar soap and has a beard that only needs occasional trim with his electric razor.
That's just a short list based on our personal experiences, but I've thought about this in other situations too.  Take the suit thing.  Yes, a good suit is expensive, but it lasts forever.  If a guy wears a suit every day, he only has to buy four and then just rotate them.  If I only had four outfits, people would certainly start to notice.  Likewise fancy occasions, guys can wear the same suit to weddings all season long, but a girl needs a new dress for each one.

One thing that really surprised me about the LearnVest article was the notion of gendered pricing.  I've thought about things like the suit example before, but I did not realize that women pay more for dry cleaning the same type of shirt or more for deodorant that's essentially the same as a man's except for the smell.
"After reading in Marie Claire that dry cleaners charge more to clean a woman’s button-down shirt than a man’s, one of our editors tested it out herself by visiting her local dry cleaner in New York City. Lo and behold, her plain shirt cost $4 more than a man’s would have, because “the machine couldn’t fit shirts from a smaller person.”

I actually noticed the deodorant thing back in college and went through a phase where I wore men's deodorant.  You know what, it worked the same, but I couldn't stand the aggressive smell.  It was so strong that it gave me a headache, and I had to discontinue use.  So men pay less for a wider stick of deodorant with more scent--that's just not right.

Women's imported goods are also frequently taxed at a higher rate: "men’s sneakers were taxed at 8.5%, while women’s were taxed at 10%. Not every garment tariff he discovered was in favor of men, but he did find that women were susceptible to higher taxes on those goods imported to the U.S. at the highest volume. " 

So that's your daily dose of news from the depressing zone.  Has anyone else noticed this firsthand or thought about it before?  I certainly didn't know about the dry cleaning thing, because I don't get things dry cleaned, but all the other incidentals that come with being a woman can certainly add up.


  1. I looked at that LearnVest article about the genered pricing and to be honest I never really gave it much thought. Although I do usually buy men's generic shaving cream rather than dole out for the fancy women's shaving jel.

  2. A few weeks ago, Alan and I were in Ulta, and he said "This store is proof that it is way easier to be a guy." While any primping I do is obviously my choice, I do agree that it IS more expensive being a woman. You are right about the shoes, clothes, and so on.