Yeah, This Tax on Just Men Is Sexist -- That's the Whole Effin' Point

empty wallet

Opponents of the so-called "pink tax," which taxes feminine hygiene products as "non-essential" items, have long raised the question: What would happen if men's personal health products were taxed in the same manner? That's what one local pharmacy attempted to find out when they posted a sign announcing a one day, seven percent "man tax" ... and the backlash they received answered that question in a truly disturbing way.

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The pharmacy, Thompson Chemists in New York City, posted signs alerting their customers to the temporary "tax" to raise awareness about a 2015 study which found that women's products in the city cost 7 percent more than men's products.

The "tax" goes in quotes because Thompson's "man tax" wasn't even a real tax -- the surcharge was actually a discount to female shoppers who were waived most of New York's sale taxes -- and still, people freaked.

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The pharmacy's co-owner, Jolie Alony, said that most of the actual customers were supportive, but they received "3,000 crazy emails" (in addition to social media posts and phone messages) with a decidedly different sentiment -- something along the lines of "'You should burn in hell, you should die, you sexist pig.'"

"It was just to show awareness and it went overboard," Alony told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"People don't think about it and women do spend so much more money throughout their lives," she said. "We just wanted to show people what the difference was so that they would be like, 'wow.'"

Indeed, feminine hygiene products cost women approximately $100 per year on average, so an additional tax on these very, very essential items is completely unfair -- as is the overall income inequality in this country. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, women working full-time earn 80 percent of what men earn doing the same work (and women of color, for the record, earn even less).

More work for less pay and more tax? It's incomprehensible that anyone could think there's anything OK about this situation, so why did so many have such a huge problem with the point Thompson Chemists was trying to make?

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The comments on Thompson Chemists' Facebook post about its idea give us an idea of why people didn't like it, but they really only skim the surface of the backlash that Alony said the pharmacy received:

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It's possible, of course, that some people didn't understand the motivation for the one-day "tax," and were just responding to the idea of a "man tax" in general -- but shouldn't their outrage only serve as further proof that gender-selective tax is ridiculously sexist?

Unfortunately, sexism is all-too acceptable in this society, at least when women are the ones being targeted (so, the vast majority of the time). Meanwhile, even the mere suggestion that men are being discriminated against is enough to inspire death threats. Like the current rampant willingness to write off horrifically abusive and derogatory language as "locker room talk," this is a clear indication that we need to start making equality a serious priority. 

On the bright side, New York, Illinois, and Connecticut eliminated sales tax on menstrual products in 2016 (only 10 other US states don't enforce this tax). Let's hope more states follow suit, and soon. It's a small step, but we must keep moving forward at all costs!

 

Image via NoHoDamon/Flickr

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