Wow, Jessica Valenti sure is stupid

A report this month on products in the UK found something very similar: when it came to the same products marketed differently for men and women, there was a whopping 37% difference in price. Beauty products, toys, everything. It doesn’t even get better as you age: adding insult to injury, women are even charged more for adult diapers.

Beyond the profound unfairness of having to pay more for the same products (while making less money, to boot!) there’s something quite frustrating about the fact that shopping is something that has long been used to paint women as frivolous and financially irresponsible.

Women don’t note that they are being charged more for things. Yup, proof that women and shopping shows they are frivolous and financially irresponsible.

And yet to Valenti these tow things are in opposition?

47 comments on “Wow, Jessica Valenti sure is stupid

  1. The funniest thing about this article – when it first went up the title on the front page splash said “Women are overpriced”. It was later corrected to “Women are overcharged”. Wish I’d screenshotted it.

    One of those moments you don’t know whether the sub needs a P45 or a raise.

  2. To be fair to women, why should they care about price when they’re spending hubby’s money?

    when it came to the same products marketed differently for men and women, there was a whopping 37% difference in price.

    Women value brands more highly than men do. Somehow, men are to blame.

  3. Somehow it is shocking that women are willing to pay more for “beauty products” then men are. Well, fuck me.

  4. “Women value brands more highly than men do.”

    Do they?

    “Somehow it is shocking that women are willing to pay more for “beauty products””

    With you there.

  5. Women will pay more for clothes and shoes than men. Again, wow.

    The surprise is the difference is only 37%. My guess would be higher.

  6. Women control 80-90% of consumption expenditures. Of course all that excess demand results in higher prices. These people live in fantasy land.

  7. “when it came to the same products marketed differently for men and women”

    Sceptical. Were they really the same products? How can the same clothes, shoes and beauty products be marketed at men and women?

    As for “toys”, no idea here. What specific marketing is aimed at women but not men, assuming the same toy? I smell bullshit here.

  8. Yes, they do Arnald.

    Wives don’t want a handbag from Aldis, they want a Prada bag. They don’t want to put their babies in Lidl own-brand nappies. They want the ones advertised by smiling, golden-haired moppets on TV. They don’t want to wipe with Tesco’s Basics toilet paper. They want the kind with adorable puppies on them.

    Good advertising and branding is a direct appeal to the emotions – women love that stuff. Looove it.

  9. I find that my clothes are more expensive than my wife’s equivalents, (although neither of us is into designer brands) – she reckons £30 is expensive for everyday trousers, I think it a bargain. I get the impression that women are expected to buy more, so price drops as supply increases.

    However, the whole point of this issue is not that women get charged more than men – the checkout doesn’t change the price because I’m male, so I couldn’t buy pink razors for less than my wife could buy equivalent blue ones, for example – it’s that products aimed at women are priced higher.

    The story is not that women have to pay more, it’s that they do even if they don’t have to.

    Either that or women are somehow prevented from using non-pink razors. Who is it that tells women that they can only use pink stuff? It’s not me, and I doubt it’s many other men…

  10. For every £1 men spend, women spend £2 (sources below).
    When spending all that money, women express clear preferences for things like making the razor a pink colour. Men express no such preference, so of course suppliers respond to what women want and ask them to pay for it. They do value it after all, and they clearly have the cash.

    http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2013/u-s–women-control-the-purse-strings.html

    https://hbr.org/2009/09/the-female-economy

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/bridgetbrennan/2015/01/21/top-10-things-everyone-should-know-about-women-consumers/#228c5afb2897

  11. Pellinor – Who is it that tells women that they can only use pink stuff?

    The power of branding.

    Women don’t want to feel like a big hairy gorilla when shaving their legs.

    They want to feel like a gorgeous, delicate, sensual goddess.

    They don’t want to feel like a glutton when cramming chocolate into their food holes.

    They want to feel like a ballet dancer delicately nibbling on floaty-light confectionary.

    Ever seen adverts for booze aimed at women? Note what the Lambrini ladies and Babycham babes are actually selling – not drunkeness, but friendship.

  12. The irony is that all of the advertising branding men as clueless idiots is to get women to pay a premium on the goods advertised, presumably illustrating the power of smug self-satisfaction on purchasing habits.

    Lol

  13. What about hairdressers? What my wife pays for her monthly hairdo would cover my barber’s bills for a year (admittedly that’s not quite like for like – but still …)

  14. Rob: “As for “toys”, no idea here. What specific marketing is aimed at women but not men, assuming the same toy?”

    In my local ASDA last year, a selection of bows & arrows, guns (of the soft foam pellet type) and toy swords suddenly went up. The only difference from the boy range? These were pink and purple.

    They were, however, the same price!

  15. This topic is a perfect example of evil capitalists taking advantage of the behavior of those poor, helpless victims – consumers.

    *rolls eyes*

  16. Any major purchase for us is handled by MrsBud (PBUH), including my upcoming Land Rover. She is awesome, I feel for the salesperson, she has never been left feeling that she didn’t get the best possible deal.

  17. Sceptical. Were they really the same products? How can the same clothes, shoes and beauty products be marketed at men and women?

    Indeed. I can’t be bothered to do the research, but I bet if you look at North Face walking boots and ski gear there is no discernible difference between men’s and women’s prices.

  18. “What my wife pays for her monthly hairdo would cover my barber’s bills for a year”: what, you’re married and yet you pay for a barber? Madness.

  19. I still think that report is garbage, it’s looking at retail prices, not transaction prices. Many, many moons ago as a teen I worked in retail and I posit based on that experience that women’s goods need to be marked up so that they can be marked down in order to sell efficiently.

    A quick Google search suggests that 61% of mobile coupon users are female, a 22% lead over male, which supports my theory.

    Average transaction price between men and women goods is probably significantly closer than the report would have you believe.

  20. I copied this amusing comment on a Valenti article (not this one) as somehow it seemed spot on to me.

    “When the Guardian does things well, it does them very well.
    But for every article like this, there are several dozen columns by Jessica Valenti”

  21. I pay for my haircuts. My wife doesn’t know half the things about the current state of football that my barber does.

  22. adding irrelevance to anecdata

    My local sports shop sells a range of boys’ soccer boots from 45 to 180€. Rugger boots from 30 to 80€.

    Reverse élitism?

  23. Murph starts teaching today. I wonder how many of his students are echoing the thought in the headline by now?

  24. He is looking forward to teaching “economics in the real world”. God help them if they are externally assessed.

  25. “Beauty products, toys, everything.”

    Everything? How about cars? Do try and convince the testosterone fuelled here that a set of wheels is just that.

    DocBud – “… including my upcoming Land Rover.”

    Sample question, did MrsBud take any convincing this was a desirable purchase as an alternative to, say, a Qashqai?

  26. Tim Worstall,

    “Indeed. I can’t be bothered to do the research, but I bet if you look at North Face walking boots and ski gear there is no discernible difference between men’s and women’s prices.”

    Some of that is about the type of women. And I’m not saying lesbians, but just that women who are into walking in a serious way tend to be more practical.

    Things like handbags just baffle me. I appreciate the better things in life. I spend good money on shirts – they feel nice, they last longer. I spend maybe £35-40 on a shirt. I’ve got a couple of pairs of Loakes – they’re maybe double the price of a normal pair of shoes. But there are bags out there costing £900 when a Debenhams bag costs like £40. I could understand if a posh bag was £100-150 – that at 3 times the price, there’s better materials, better quality control. But 20 times the price?

    My pet theory is that a lot of women spend their wage on themselves, and spend what they have. So if they have a grand sitting in their account, they don’t hand it to hubby to take a chunk off they mortgage, they go and buy a new bag. If they only had £100, they’d buy a £100 bag.

  27. @ Stigler,

    Shoes, while women do pay huge sums for their shoes it seems that if you take a step or two up from your Loakes you can pop in to John Lobb and get a pair of Crocodile Shoes for £11,024 and a pair of Polo Boots for £6,198

    http://www.johnlobbltd.co.uk/main/pricelist.htm

    or you could be like DocBud and for he same money get a used Landrover and still have change for Bath Slippers

    http://www.autotrader.co.uk/used-cars/land-rover/range-rover/used-land-rover-range-rover-3-6-td-v8-vogue-5dr-northwich-fpa-201601260430306?logcode=p

  28. This story was covered across a couple days on BBC R4’s PM programme last week. The second day they had Evan Davis on to explain why it happens. He was very, very good.

    He said that retailers are caught between the twin needs of not charging so little that they go broke and not charging so much that they lose custom. Men, experience has shown, are far less elastic to price than women are. So they charge women more to ensure they don’t go broke and men less to ensure they don’t lose custom.

    I simplify wildly, of course. He also touched on competition from similar retailers and so on. But that was, basically, his main point.

  29. What it boils down to is women are willing to pay more than men. It isn’t marketing or capitalist imperialism, or the Patriarchy (in Marketing and Advertising:really?!), but individual choices.

    This seems to piss Ms Valenti off for some reason.

  30. Haven’t read the thread so this may have been covered, but even if taken at face value this data would suggest simply that women have more money to spend than men do (supply and demand curves and all that).

    Which considering that other data consistently shows that men earn more money and women spend more money would paint a consistent picture.

    Applying the argument to, say, food, a Valenti interpretation of rich people paying more for food than poor people would suggest that the rich are being ripped off just for being rich and this is proof of discrimination. Hmmm.

  31. Isn’t it What The Market Will BarE? If the market wasn’t prepared to pay those prices, the prices would drop.

  32. A friend who used to be in the car trade often complained about sales that were lost because the woman didn’t like the colour of the seats or something else small or cosmetic, the man would have bought it.
    If you are fussier about what you want then supply will be lower and so prices higher seems reasonable.

  33. ‘Women don’t note that they are being charged more for things.’

    I noted dry cleaning was more for women than men 50 years ago. No one could explain it to me. But I figured it out. Business 101. You balance margins and volume. If womens will pay more, you charge them more. Women I have known knew they were paying more, and they paid it, anyway.

  34. DocBud – “Any major purchase for us is handled by MrsBud (PBUH), including my upcoming Land Rover.”

    They are closing the production line for the Defender on Friday. Get in and buy one quick. It is a shame really. I thought they would have been making them forever.

    On topic, this is not rocket science. Pretty much everything women do is to find a rich, powerful man who wants to f&ck them so they can f**k him back by taking him to the cleaners in the divorce settlement. Therefore anything that furthers that aim is a sensible investment. Therefore they will pay a premium for anything that might, in fact, further that aim. Hair cuts, shoes, clothes. Whatever.

    Men just want a pair of shoes.

  35. Bloke not in Cymru – “A friend who used to be in the car trade often complained about sales that were lost because the woman didn’t like the colour of the seats or something else small or cosmetic, the man would have bought it.”

    There is an account floating around the internet about why African Americans are, on average, charged more for cars than White Americans. Apparently if you ask a dealer, they believe that a significant number of young AA men want to be able to boast about the price of their cars. They want to go back to their neighbourhood and tell people how much they paid for their car. Tight fisted middle aged White accountants, not so much. So the dealer has an ally in the young Black male.

    I have no idea if that is true or not. It may be pervasive racism. I don’t care. What I would acknowledge is that we are all different and we do live in diverse, in the good sense, communities. So not everyone is going to share the same anally-retentive middle aged middle class White middle of the road male values. That is, usually, not a bad thing. We should celebrate it. Not condemn it.

  36. May well be true SMFS there is an element of look at what I have and the price people will pay for upgrade packages (e.g. leather seats and small bits of chrome). Though I had to grudgingly admit after driving 700miles in a day and then doing the return trip the next day that a seat upgrade can be a good idea.

  37. Bloke not in Cymru – “Though I had to grudgingly admit after driving 700miles in a day and then doing the return trip the next day that a seat upgrade can be a good idea.”

    Clearly not in Wales! That would almost get you to Berlin I would guess.

    I don’t know what I would pay more for. I think airline seats are what people don’t have an option to pay more for but probably would. Business is just too much though unless the company is paying. They are bringing in intermediate seats but I have not tried one.

    A car seat? Probably not. I would say never keep driving to save on a hotel room. Stop, eat, shower, sleep and get up the next day. That applies to long distance flights as well – if you can have a hot shower in the airport, as in HK or Singapore, for God’s sake, do it. And always book the most convenient hotel almost without concern for the price.

    What I always regret not paying more for is memory. I can remember saying that 64 k was adequate and no one would need 1 Mb. I was so wrong. My advice is to always, always, always, pay that bit more for the memory upgrade.

    On the other hand, apart from the prestige of being able to say you had a bottle of some rare vintage, there is no point spending big on wine. The difference in taste is not that great these days.

    Hmmmm. I should call this post “lessons from a mostly wasted life”. This is the modern world for you.

  38. Runcie Balspune,

    She is almost insistent on it. Even if most of your driving is on tarred roads, in outback Queensland it pays to have a 4 x 4, some of the potholes could swallow a Fiat Uno, the roadkill can play havoc with the underside of cars and the roads can become treacherous during and after rain. You occasionally see roads listed as being open to 4 x 4s only. On top of that, if we drive beyond town, it is always in my vehicle, so she wants something that is reliable and comfortable, and which she doesn’t mind driving in order to give me a break if we’re driving a few hundred kilometres.

  39. SMFS,

    “What I always regret not paying more for is memory. I can remember saying that 64 k was adequate and no one would need 1 Mb. I was so wrong. My advice is to always, always, always, pay that bit more for the memory upgrade.

    On the other hand, apart from the prestige of being able to say you had a bottle of some rare vintage, there is no point spending big on wine. The difference in taste is not that great these days.”

    Memory – depends what you’re doing. 4GB on a laptop does most people just fine. If you’re going things with VM or graphic/video work, 8GB or more is handy.

    Wine is a diminishing returns thing. Well worth paying £8 instead of £6, but you’ll hardly notice £32 over £30. Past about £30, you’re often paying a premium for region or names (like Burgundy instead of New Zealand Pinot)

  40. Stigler – right about wine but the cut off is IMO more like £20. You can buy excellent wine below that but at around that level it peaks. Of course we all have our own taste/price/ego point so doubtless billionaires put it at £200!

  41. Chinese tourists (some) like to take back gifts from Europe but leave the price ticket on to show how much they’ve paid

  42. Bloke Not In Cymru,

    “A friend who used to be in the car trade often complained about sales that were lost because the woman didn’t like the colour of the seats or something else small or cosmetic, the man would have bought it.”

    Maybe some of this is evolutionary? What attracts men to women isn’t just looks – women can also make more of themselves. Picking out a good dress, knowing how to do make-up well, selecting a good hairstyle etc. Having a brain wired for things looking right maybe has evolutionary advantages.

  43. Interested,

    I’d love to know any recommendations. I am mean with pricing on this, and particularly now try and avoid named regions that attract a premium (e.g. Burgundy) in favour of value.

    I often spend more like £8-10. I’m liking a light Pinot Noir from Romania right now. For what I call a “special” wine – Christmas dinner, celebration dinner, wife’s Birthday etc, I’m finding I have to spend about £25, because I’ve paid around £20 and it’s good, but just not special.

    And I’ve tasted the real expensive stuff. I did a tasting at Waddesdon Manor of Rothschild’s various wines and I did particularly like the Chateau d’Armillhac, but at £55 a bottle, I didn’t feel it was in a different league to something like Chateau Labegorce that I was paying £20 for.

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