Marketers figured out decades ago that women tend to make many major household purchasing decisions, so they started marketing to them. Now we have a plethora of products aimed not only toward women (witness the new VW Beetle) but specifically designed for women. If you’re a woman, maybe you’re thinking it’s about time someone said vive la différence. Our bodies are different, so let’s have some specificity. A women-only gym has machines set for people closer to 5’ than 6’, weights closer to ten pounds than fifty. Women don’t process alcohol (or calories, it seems) as efficiently as men, so give us light beer. We need more calcium and iron, so put more of those in our vitamins, thanks.
Here’s a little secret, though. A lot of those women’s-only products cost us a lot of extra money, and since we’re still only getting paid $.75 on the dollar for what men get paid, we can ill afford to get ripped off thanks to some marketing genius. For instance, I recently needed some multivitamins. At the grocery store I noticed a new “Women’s Multi” version, same size bottle, next to the regular multivitamins I usually buy. “With iron and calcium” it said on the front of the bottle. Great! I picked up a bottle of each and flipped them over to compare the nutrition labels. There were only two ingredient differences, neither of them dramatic. Instead of 100% of my daily folic acid, I’d be getting 150%. Instead of 16% of my calcium, 25%. And iron? The same in either capsule. But the price difference? The women’s multivitamin was $9.99 for 90, the regular multi, $10.99 for 130. The perfectly adequate regular multivitamins were 28% cheaper! So what are we paying for? We’re paying for the fact that the label says “women” on it somewhere. The same goes for shampoo, shaving cream, soap, and I’m sure you could name a bunch of other products if you thought about it. What we’re paying for is our lack of knowledge. Knowledge is power. Let’s start using it.