Given that women flex the most powerful economic muscle in the commerce space, not only spending more than men overall but also influencing the shopping choices of the general public in a mighty way, according to Forbes , it’s still quite the shocker that marketers and brands flog products to use on the premise that we’re feeble, weak, need saving and should be ashamed of our appearance. Not only are we told that our razor will “relax body and mind” because it’s infused with an unnecessary scent, cajoled that the floral design will help us to keep up appearances in the bathroom or instructed that a very special short ergonomic handle design is necessary because…lady hands...we’re also charged almost double the amount of the equivalent “male product”, and that’s just in the hair removal department.
In a product analysis report published by The Times last year, in cases where items had a “male”/ “female” equivalent, women were charged 37 per cent more on average across the board. That’s before we’ve figured in the enduring pay gap (19 per cent) and tampon tax (although bravo to Tesco and pending retailers who are taking the VAT hit so women don’t have to). Frankly, it makes our blood boil before we even take on the struggle of the unidentified item in bagging area, and pricing scandals aside, the obtuse, sexist marketing that is still so prevalent, even if in more subtle, underhand guises, is also likely indicative of a lack of women on boards and in decision making positions in companies.
While the Advertising Standards Agency last month declared that it would take a tougher stance against gender stereotyping, discrimination on the shelves, whether on a level of price or language, remains rife. It is to be celebrated that some brands (shout out to MAC, Toni & Guy and Wella in particular) are making a concerted effort to go ‘genderless’, but if you’re faced with sexist shortchanging and a proliferation of gendered insanity, from infantilising packaging to out and out body shaming, here are some ways to save money and redress the balance, right after you’ve complained to the ASA and/ or lobbied the brand (s) in questions of course.
1. Buy men’s razors
As above, a razor is a razor is razor. Take away the curved edges and “ergonomic” woman handles and you’ve got the same tool, doing the same job, but in general at a lower price point. Except you’ll have words and terms such as “power”, “tough” and “get in on the deal” aimed your way instead of “believe in your beauty” and “pink shimmer handle for a pleasant experience” (?). Computer coding whizz, entrepreneur and super (role) model Karlie Kloss endorses ignoring gendered marketing in this area and going for whatever works and comes in cheaper, and we encourage you to do the same.
2. Ditto tissues, shaving gel and deodorant
“Man-sized” tissues (“extra large, “extra strong”, “ideal for anything life throws at you”) make us shudder, but given that you get more for your money in that they’re the same price as regular tissues, in the trolley they go. Shaving gel and deodorant are slightly more problematic in that, while often cheaper (male Gillette shaving gel RRP £1.85, female £2.70), you’ve got some pretty potent, musky fragrance to deal with. We’re pretty sure that men don’t want a skunk-like trail of highly chemical cologne following them around all day either. Sort is out brand people, but this does lead us onto...