(As a Clash aficionado, this phrase always makes me think of the EP released in 1979. This has nothing to do with the post, but I thought I’d get it out there and out of the way for myself. I enjoy the mental image of Strummer and Paul Simonon giggling about the phrase–apparently how they came to name the EP. This digression is now over.)
You may have seen this study from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, finding that women pay extra money for the products marketed to us. This is not exactly a huge surprise to me, but I’m glad to see someone do the legwork to confirm it. We’re charged more for the products we’re asked to buy even leaving out how much extra buying is demanded of women. Even if we just bought one-to-one the same stuff as men bought, we’d have a surcharge. Obviously, some of this can be circumvented: I don’t know a single woman who buys women’s shaving gel rather than men’s, for instance.
And that’s not taking into account all we have to or are manipulated into buying that most men don’t: tampons and pads and panty liners, make-up and nail polish, contraception, hair products, extra clothing (men can wear a suit to a white-collar interview and a suit to a wedding; I need radically different outfits for those two events), jewelry (most men can and will show up to that wedding without any jewelry on).
Here’s an example from my own life (that makes it an upper-middle class example, of course): I start teaching again soon. Because I had my son, I’ve gone up a couple of sizes. I don’t mind; I still think I look good. But it means I own an entire closetful of clothing that doesn’t fit me. And I can’t show up to teach in yoga pants or a pair of jeans. I hadn’t thought about the gendered aspect of the shopping necessitated by this situation until I mentioned it to a male colleague who said “Wow, yeah, I can just slouch on into the classroom in a shirt and jeans. That’s not fair to you!” No, I guess it’s not. (I’m tenured now, I suppose I could slouch on into the classroom in a t-shirt and jeans, but I don’t think I could count on commanding the respect and deference that a male colleague doing the same thing could, given all the work coming out on how sexist student evals are.)
It costs more to be a cis femme woman than it does to be a cis butch man. I wonder how this breaks down in different gender expressions. What’s the price differential of being a butch woman, for instance? What about a femme man? And how does race inflect these differences? And what is the cost of being trans?
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