As the ‘pink tax’ plagues the shelves of American shoppers, questions arise in regards to how extensive this mass spread phenomenon has become. With feminine presenting packaging, products, and marketing, women across the United States are left wondering:
What has changed? What can we expect moving forward?
In signing the National Defense Authorization Act on December 27th in Washington DC, President Joe Biden’s review of military funding, U.S. Defense Agencies, and social revisions advised by the U.S. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) brings the potential for further equality.
Introduced by Senators Maggie Hassan (Dem–NH) and Joni Ernst (Rep. Iowa), the two aimed to address it directly through legislation. Hassan addresses it directly with the press; “This is a pink tax, plain and simple, and one that has no place in our military – or anywhere in American society” she states. “It is absurd that we are forcing service members to fork over thousands of dollars to pay for necessary clothing items that they wear while serving our country,” Hassan continues.
As research for reports began, the alleged claims of disproportionate charges became fact due to investigation by the GAO. These reports revealed that standard garment, underwear, accessories, and specialized training wear came under scrutiny for excessive out-of-pocket expenses for female enlistees. Reports state: “some items provided in the initial clothing issue are determined to be not uniquely military …and are therefore excluded from that service’s subsequent calculation of the clothing replacement allowances” (GAO).
Attempting to define the requirement of an article of clothing being considered ‘uniquely-military’, much of what agencies have found causes for these enormous differences in cost is gender identity. The report states: “[female service members are] provided with a one-time cash allowance to purchase…underwear, bras, stockings, (etc.)…on average ranging from about $125 to $207 across the services … [they] do not subsequently receive an annual replacement allowance for those items.” (GAO).
Women requiring more resources, undergarments, and other accessories that are considered near-essential quota, left many female enlistees’ calls finally heard, leading up to the vital revisions. With costs stacking up, in recent years, reports and studies have found that not only do women enlisted in the services end up paying more out of pocket, but are unlikely to be reimbursed for these fees. Reports have found “[through] fiscal years 2015 through 2020, the average reimbursement rate for each of the military services ranged from about 61 percent for Army females to 99 percent for Marine Corps males” (GAO).
The reason for this lack of compensation, military officers accredit to the D.L.A. (Defense Logistics Agency) not ordering enough supplies of these sets, producing a massive spike in demand, with not enough to sell. Sen. Hassan states: “Our military represents our country’s values…it is absurd that in 2021, women are still paying more than men for their uniform while they bravely serve our country”, bringing back the question(s) at hand.
Why is sexism within the U.S.’s markets, media, and government so normalized?
History points to misogyny being passed down for generations, specifically true for women of color, battling the system for validity and opportunity to be taken seriously in society. At women, and many other marginalized groups’ expenses, our country was able to found a country previously tolerant of inequality.
Although uniform costs may be on the smaller scale, with the abolishment of unjust chargers, hope in the further development of social and systemic assessment of gender discrimination is on the rise. Optimistically, can this be considered a step towards revising systemic sexism as a whole? Can we expect demand for change in law for the ‘Pink Tax’ against other feminine products, brands, and other items in the American market? Despite this only being a minor step towards eliminating misogyny in the foundation of our country, are baby steps considered ‘good enough’ in the 21st century?
To many of those questions, I, myself, am not even sure. Yet for many Americans, the common ground of understanding is that things must change.
Setting the stage for much higher expectations of growth and development against the ‘Pink Tax’, legislation was able to be passed in the Senate, votes totaling 89-10 in early January, many women awaiting more widespread action in the near future.