Being a woman can be expensive. Not only do ladies earn just 79% of what their male counterparts do, they also pay the “pink tax”—the extra cost tacked onto ”women’s” products in everything from personal care to car maintenance. One recent study from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that, on average, women’s products cost 7% more than similar products designed for guys.
At least one pharmacy in New York City is fighting back. Thompson Chemists in SoHo instituted a policy this week that hopes to close the gender gap—or at least raise awareness of price discrimination—by levying a 7% tax on male customers. “All female customers shop tax free,” reads a sign in the pharmacy’s window. Next to it, another one says “All male customers are subject to a 7% man tax.”
The first sign is more technically accurate. In an interview with Gothamist, Thompson owner Jolie Alony said she’s not actually charging men more money—rather, she’s simply waiving most of the 8.875% New York City sales tax for female customers. It’s essentially a discount for being a woman, one whose effect on her bottom line Alony is covering personally.
“I didn’t do it to be sexist or anything,” Alony said. “It was just to make people aware. Not many people are aware of the fact of how much more women have to pay…taxes on tampons and all of their women stuff, and men don’t have to pay taxes on that stuff.”
Feminine hygiene products in particular have become a flashpoint in the debate over gendered pricing. Only 11 states in the US do not tax tampons and sanitary napkins—the states that do tax them exclude feminine hygiene products from lists of “necessities” that escape sales tax. Earlier this month, bulk shopping site Boxed.com announced a 9% discount on feminine products, and Canada recently did away with the “tampon tax” altogether. A growing number of US lawmakers are lobbying to do the same in the States.
Not everyone is thrilled with Alony’s awareness efforts. Thompson Chemists’ Facebook page has received some nasty comments, while others on social media are calling for a boycott of the store.
“All of these people are really angry with Hillary and really angry with the Donald,” Alony told DNAInfo. “It was easy for them to vent their feelings out. They were able to be nasty to someone and that was me. I’m not angry or upset on my end. I am happy I did it.”