Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It Costs More To Be A Woman

In response to the article: Why It Costs More To Be A Woman (click on the title to jump to the article.) I have written the following:

I have been lamenting lately the same thing, not an angry lament, more of a weary, this-is-how-the-world-is lament. I know these things are true and I don't like it, but what are you doing to do about it?

I rarely succumb to the temptation to purchase razors made "for women", as the cost per each is egregious. I find the cost of antiperspirants in general to be outrageous, but the smell of stale sweat coming from my armpits is not desirable, so I cough it up, though I have done trial and error until I only buy what works for me.

I have cut men and women's hair. The time factor is negligible. A man may be a little less fussy about the cut, though many men today are more fussy than ever, but there is the neck shaving and sometimes a facial shave as well. The justification is bogus. The services that take time are actually included in the price whether they are used or not. I mean I often shampoo my own hair because I sometimes have allergic reactions to shampoos. If it is a nice day out, the hairdresser may not fully style my hair, though that is included in the price at most places. Some, the ones that do ala carte services, are also the ones that seem to charge virtually the same whether you are male or female. In these places, I've had good and bad haircuts. The lady cutting my hair at Great Clips in Colorado Springs gave me about the best haircuts of my life. My most recent on at Great Clips in MD? The reviews aren't so good.

Many things are ridiculously expensive for women. I will happily use men's antiperspirant as long as it doesn't SMELL like a man. I can't wear their shirts without major tailoring and it is impossible to wear their jeans. My husband can get his jeans at Sam's Club for $13. The cut is standard and the denim is heavy. These jeans are a far better bargain than what is currently sold in any local store in the woman's department. Without my consent or approval, someone made the decision to eliminate heavyweight denim jeans with sturdy construction, in favor of "stretch denim", which is far less practical, lasts about a third as long, and costs the same as the old jeans I prefer. Where may I go to purchase the jeans I loved? I may have them custom made, or buy them through a catalog, now at least 2-3 times the cost of the jeans I bought a few years back. But my husband can buy his for $13.

Don't get me started on decent dressy work trousers. Again, try to find any made of a high quality sturdy material with a nice hand at ANY price made for a woman. But my husband can walk into any Ross or Marshalls and find a nice trouser for under $20 near any day of the week.

Can someone explain why I have to pay over $30 for a decent bra? Is making a bra some feat of engineering with construction so ingenious as to make it a difficult proposition? No. I used to work in a lingerie factory, and while I was never privy to the price points and manufacturing costs, I can assure you that they are in no way an expensive garment to manufacture.

At $30+ each, I must spend a minimum of $210 simply to have enough for a week. And are these garments long-lasting? According to the fitter in the lingerie department, none of these garments are designed to last more than 6 months. Nor can they hold up under normal laundry conditions. No, they must be hand-laundered and hung to dry, else they face an early extinction. If I want pretty or lacy or the latest sexy style, they are even more flimsily constructed and cost even more. Hooray.

There are some justifications for some of these price differences. A woman's tailoring is often a bit more detailed, a couple of darts or seams that a man's equivalent will not have, but otherwise, two identical items should have reasonably identical prices, right? What is the cost to put in a dart and a fitted seam? It doesn't take substantially longer, and should not justify the price difference.

When I was younger, I lived in a small town and it had a store with clothing for young men and a rack of clothing I can only call rodeo queen attire. I purchased men's jeans to fit my hips and took in 6 inches off the waist. I am no longer comfortable doing those kinds of alterations, as I am much more conscious of the quality of tailoring than I was in those days, and my own tailoring does not meet my standards.

Don't even get me started on hose.

I guess my point is that it costs to be a woman. Some men seem to think that women are frivolous or poor negotiators and pat themselves on the back for it, but what do you do when your dry cleaner charges an extra dollar each to dry clean your shirts? They all do it, and complaining hasn't yet gotten them to drop their prices. They very snottily talk about how difficult they are to press. Oh really? Seems like the equipment isn't made properly then. I dislike ironing, but find it no more difficult or time-consuming to iron my shirts than it does to iron my husband's.

It isn't the cut, because I can bring in a boxy women's blazer and get charged more for it than a man's Italian cut blazer, which surely is more difficult to handle than mine.

Oh, I'm not going to win any debate here, nor am I stating any new thing. But it isn't because women are poor negotiators. It is because certain things are expected of us that are NOT expected of a man. In one job it was not-so-subtly suggested that I should wear makeup for a professional appearance. At the time I was not having skin problems, and was always neatly and professionally attired and well-groomed. I did not then, nor do I now see the point of covering my skin with a load of expensive makeup that clogs my pores and causes me to break out, nor did I see the point of spending $50 a month on my nails as the other women in the office did.

If it is okay for John Doe to come in with a fresh-scrubbed face, neatly combed hair and a nice suit on, then that should work for me as well. I'm not manly, nor am I trying to make some feminist point, but I do sometimes resent that while I make far less than a man, my life costs more. Not because I am frivolous, but because the simple things in life are, for women, more expensive.

If I were to tell my husband he was required to spend $210 every six months on underwear, he would flip out. Why do these manufacturers and retailers DARE to charge this for me? So, what really am I to do about these things? Nothing I can do really, except make the wisest and most frugal decisions possible, and occasionally rant about the cost of being a woman.

1 comment:

Jacqueline said...

I agree! I love when I find a good sale, but it seems my husband can always find more for less when he shops. Then you add make-up, hair products, potions and lotions and all manner of things women purchase to keep themselves young and pretty...a woman could spend a fortune!