US tax rate on women's underwear is higher than on men's

Originally published at: US tax rate on women's underwear is higher than on men's | Boing Boing


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Someone must surely have compiled a list of all the products and services intended for women that have higher taxes and costs than identical items and services aimed at men, and it’s a hell of a long list…


I am a cishet woman.

My button down dress shirt (“ladies blouse”) is smaller than my husband’s office button-downs and costs more to dry clean than his.

My haircuts cost more than his haircuts and the two cuts have been rather similar.

Don’t get me started on what I pay for my shoes, which are smaller, and are all about making my feet feel happy. No stilettos. No dress up shoes. Just. Basic. Workwear.

Not really surprised to hear about the tax inequality re women’s underwear and men’s. Smaller. And often not fancy. And at Costco anyway, pair for pair, mine definitely cost as much or more than his.

“The future is female.”
Great. Late stage capitalism has been and will continue to tax the hell out of it.


My mother used a lot of laundry services for both her’s and my father’s business attire. She often noted that cleaning/pressing her shirts cost over three times what my father’s did. The only feature which distinguished those two shirts was that womens’ shirts at that time (is this still true?) had the buttons on the left side where men’s had them on the right side (some ancient traditional nonsense about women having a servant to button/unbutton them??) -sigh-


It looks like Gresser’s report uses the ‘general’ rate for comparisons. I suspect that it wouldn’t change the punchline; but I’d be curious to know how the numbers would differ if you accounted for where various clothing is imported from, since a lot of the categories are eligible for special rates under one or more of the various programs.

It looks like clothing and textile imports overall are pretty heavily concentrated in a handful of Asian locations(China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Cambodia), so any deviations from general rate for those locations would have disproportionate impact; as would any discrepancies in terms of where we import underwear vs. other clothing.

The International Trade Administration has some neat looking data; but its categories aren’t aligned with the ones in the International Trade Commission’s tariff schedules; which isn’t just desperately helpful.

I’d also be fascinated to know how the tariffs came to be as they are: a disinterest in equality as a goal in itself among people with sufficient power to matter can explain why substantial inequalities aren’t seen as an issue; but is less helpful in explaining why importers of clothing sold to women would have had less success in pushing against domestic producers for lower tariffs than importers of clothing sold to men have. Seems like there might be an interesting story about differences in production methods and requirements there.


See also: the cost of women’s deodorant, razors, shampoo, etc.


Wow, the Pink Tax is literally a tax?

Shocked (not shocked).


Women’s haircuts too – The cost, I mean… I don’t know about the tax


See also the hidden social, political, and mental health costs, too.


When these categories were designed, the shirtwaist was fancier than the shirt, and tariff categories are stronger than common sense.


One possibility is that the producers and importers are largely the same for men’s and women’s clothing, but the (men) making the tariffs decisions wanted $XX total billions in tariffs, but didn’t want to inconvenience themselves personally as much.


But not the Present. :cry:


Miranda Hatch, Is Trade Sexist? How “Pink” Tariff Policies’ Harmful Effects Can Be Curtailed Through Litigation and Legislation , 47 BYU L. Rev. 651 (2022).


Makes you wonder what would happen if a man brought in a woman’s dress shirt and asked for it to be cleaned (or vice-versa). I’m sure that experiment has been done, but it would be interesting to see the results.


I have found much of menswear, including a typical 100% cotton button-down dress shirt, to be made better than most womenswear of the same kind. For years. Decades. It’s probably what was leading up to the current fast-fashion (disposable, shoddy work, flimsy material and notions like buttons and zippers) garbage.

When I called out the previous dry cleaner (I don’t use them any more*), I was told that womenswear is just so delicate and fine that it requires especially careful treatment.


I would love to run that experiment as you describe it!


I use EcoClean in Austin. I am fortunate there is one here. It’s a really good alternative to soaking clothes in typical solvents used in conventional dry cleaning.


I’m a man, and I find pink works really well with my skin tone, and I love floral prints. Not all of my shirts get the “special treatment,” but one pink shirt with a sort of scallop pattern is a little blousy gets the “pink tax.” It costs twice as much to dry clean every time, across three different cleaners. I have two new floral prints that I expect to get the same treatment every now and again.

However, the pink shirt is a linen blend, which might explain it. The rest of my shirts are pure cotton. Though I haven’t looked into it much, I doubt cotton clothes are typically considered “dressy” enough for women’s business wear.


What’s the exact difference between women/men underwear? If I would sell underwear looking exactly like women’s under wear but sold for men, would they have cheaper taxes?

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I’m starting to look more and more in the men’s section at stores and online shopping lately. Not only are the prices reasonable, for good, comfortable shoes, the men’s section has more stylish options. Like, the best women’s sneakers I could find for walking around a city are white with pink decorations and I do not feel stylish when I wear them. But the men’s section has better color schemes for sneakers, and also more dress shoe options with broad toe boxes and cushy soles.
I like that we have so many options across the board, but srsly, of all products to “gender” shoes seem among the silliest. Feet are feet.


I am privileged to be able to fit into men’s jeans fairly well and now am considering trying men’s sneakers as I think my feet have gotten a little bigger so I might be able to wear a men’s 6. Life hack right there. Men’s sneakers are so much cuter, seriously. Why are so many sneakers for women so damned boring? I wanna wear green too!