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Would you be peeved if you paid more because of your gender?

Gendered products

A recent study has suggested that supermarkets are charging men and women very different prices for comparable products.

I’ve never been a massive fan of pink. I’ve always felt that I look like a piglet when I wear it, and I get annoyed when it’s illogically applied to things. Take pink camouflage – surely the fact that it’s pink completely defeats its purpose of blending in, unless you’re in a field of roses?

But I never realised my aversion to the colour could be a benefit to me.

Supermarket pricing

According to recent research by the Fawcett Society, a UK charity that campaigns for gender equality, there is ‘widespread sexist pricing’ in high street supermarkets.

It’s research found that with own-brand toiletries, including disposable razors, shaving cream and antiperspirant, women pay, on average, 31% more if it’s been gendered (such as being styled pink for women or blue for men). And at Morrisons, it’s up to 56% more – that’s a lot more to shell out for, say, a razor just because it’s pink.

The study also found that when purchasing comparable own-branded clothing, women pay, on average, 12% more. The exceptions noted by Fawcett were that men’s formal black trousers and plain white T-shirts are, on average, more expensive than comparable female products.

According to this research, gender-neutral items, offered by one supermarket, were placed alongside products targeted at men. If this were the case then this would make me assume on first glance the products are targeted toward men.

Even if I were sceptical during my shop, it’s hard enough figuring out the best deals in a supermarket without having to scan the shelves to find a cheaper, gender-neutral product that seemingly does exactly the same job as a gendered one.

Why pay more?

I can see an argument for products being more expensive if labour or materials needed to make them were more costly for the company. For instance, if a razor had six blades instead of two with a fancy design instead of a single colour. But surely it would need to be significantly different to justify the mark-up?

As it is, I get annoyed when I have to pay more based on need, such as when I’m all out of shampoo on a Sunday night and have to buy it from my local (more expensive) convenience store as it’s the only shop that’s open. I get it. But I really don’t want these extra costs to be my norm.

I don’t want to pay for stereotyping. I don’t want to pay more for my products and I don’t want my male family and friends to have to cough up more for theirs either.

Have you spotted any price differences in supermarkets? Do you feel like you’ve paid more for a comparable product because it’s been targeted at your gender?


This is technically a breach of the Equality Act 2010 to price things differently because of gender. If the product is the exact same product but has different colouring then it is illegal. if the design is at least 20% different then it could fall to Copyright Law and be classed a sub-class of the same product. If anybody were to test this in a court of law it would test the Equality Act and also set a precedent that prevents greedy pig retailers from pinching extra pennies based on whether a person is born male or female.

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There are hundreds of toiletry products that unnecessarily differentiate between male and female versions. I see no need for soap, shower gel, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, and so on having a different formulation [I bet they don’t really] just because of the sex of the targetted user. They can have different fragrances but that should not lead to a higher price. Then there are razors, combs, and other grooming products that perform just as well in any colour or with any styling shape or design – yet the female-oriented version is priced at a premium for no justifiable reason. Duncan makes some interesting points but I don’t know that I go along with them all – no amount of product in masculine packaging will Tarzanise the male sex but I am not surprised manufacturers try to exploit and capitalise on our vanity. Luckily there are still plenty of functional products at sensible prices so spending more is just a conceit or an advanced form of peacockery.

“Take pink camouflage – surely the fact that it’s pink completely defeats its purpose of blending in, unless you’re in a field of roses?”

I am afraid you are showing your US roots as in the UK it is perfectly acceptable when hiding in blancmange which very often is pink. : )

It never occurs to me to search for male toiletries or to price them so this comes as a big surprise to me. As I am naturally hypersensitive to highly perfumed products anyway I usually go for ones that are hypoallergenic and unperfumed in the women’s sector.

Gender difference is not on my list of high priorities but I do recognise they do exist and respect them. Ideally any male or female who can identify with and be in touch with their own opposite gender is preferable. To denigrate members of the opposite sex can often be attributed to a bad relationship or experience with either a male or female member of ones own family or a partner, (the latter often can be traced back to the former), or gender envy. Problems arise when the Alfa male or the over domineering female equivalent passes derisory remarks to their fellow mates in an attempt to try to boost their own ego which can lead to some of the problems expressed by Duncan.

As previously posted, alleged or supposed weakness can often be a sign of strength and no strong person whatever their gender will allow their subconscious to be influenced by a manufacturers sales patter, promoting unrealistic images that promise far fetched and starry eyed rewards and payoffs who are, to some extent, responsible for the high suicide rate amongst young males who may have already been subjected to ridicule or derision in their past private lives.

Razors . I don’t happen to shave , but how mad is that market ? And what’s with the pink razor for women that Venus promote ? And women buy into it ….

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Vikki – I don’t see why women should not have any colour or shape of razor they like but they should not be penalised financially for their choice unless there is a genuine extra production cost involved and this is clearly demonstrated. Otherwise the marketing of razors is a covert form of sexual discrimination.

Duncan – Have you not noticed the amount of money and time that many men are now spending on their appearance and grooming – frequently exceeding that of their spouse or partner [for which they presumably earn little respect!]? It is now a massive market and the beauty halls of the bigger stores are as likely to have as many men as women on the high stools having their facial features administered to. As you would expect, I regard it as a natural consequence of the recent recession and the current austerity that makes all our lives so difficult.

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I didn’t know the word “masculine” was under threat.

I haven’t studied the underlying psychology of the changes that are taking place in male and female presentation but I do believe that, in the case of the modern male, there remains a desire to be seen as virile, hence the cultivated and stylised beards [like lions’ manes] and other forms of bodily adornment for which pain and fortitude are essential requisites. The slaps and gels that men are applying to their face and hair are in imitation of the males in certain species of baboon and, over time, their natural physiognomy will no doubt mutate and evolve to match. I am reliably informed that this behaviour is in the interests of attracting the female of the species and, moreover, that she does indeed approve.

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Duncan, the evolutionary process dictates that males must embrace their feminine side.
See: telegraph.co.uk – We men must embrace our feminine side fast – or face total extinction.

Personally what I admire most in a man is the ability to hold an intelligent conversation, a positive approach, a caring attitude a nice smile and most importantly a sense of humour. As an afterthought, I would much rather he smelled of fresh lifebuoy soap than of old spice or lavender!

Thankfully, Beryl, it’s only the totally unreconstructed males who adhere to traditional attitudes to masculinity and deny their feminine sides who might face total extinction – not the entire male population. That does at least allow for the continued production and evolution of both sexes into the future. Of course, one would hope that the female influence on male development would become more sophisticated eventually but it does have a struggle on its hands at the moment so patience is required.

Females have great influence – look at the number of world leaders including UK , Scotland!, Germany, USA potentially, – but their authority is often dispensed in more subtle ways than men seem capable of. In how many marriages (real ones – a man and a woman) does the man do what the “weaker” sex decides? Most spend time bringing home the bacon while their joint life is organised by – ?

And they live longer. And they have there own programme on Radio 4 (Woman’s hour). Is there a “Man’s Hour”?

As for female vs. male products – buy the cheaper razors, (why do they have to have pink?), shaving cream, anti-perspirant. “I don’t want to pay for stereotyping.” – then why allow yourself to submit to stereotyping. Women have more logical brains than men – they should be able to deal with this without legislation.

To me the difference between men and women is the same as the difference between people, countries, cultures, languages, music, art, you name it. It is the spice of life, all the while remembering that we are all human, not from Mars or Venus, and that we have far more in common than not.

Age-old convention and clever advertising together manage to exploit some/most women (me included) into spending comparatively inordinate amounts of money on making up their faces every or most days. From there to manipulate them into spending more money than men on comparable products or services is only a tiny step. A haircut at the barber’s costs ÂŁ5, but the cheapest I’ve seen for women was ÂŁ12, more than twice the price. There are unisex salons around, but the prices are invariably (that I have seen) more expensive for women even there. I don’t think that there is a good reason for that. Men’s haircuts can be just as elaborate as women’s.

The pressure is still greater on women than on men to look “good”, but men are catching up, and this is not for the better. A symptom of this is anorexia, which most commonly affects girls/women, but has become more common in boys/men in recent years. Another subject.

I thought it was fatness and obesity that was rapidly increasing? Is food abuse (excessive or inadequate) a symptom of our response to irresponsible advertising? Perhaps we should have an anti-ad agency, like the old brief Public Information films, that helps educate us in the ways of the world that we should really heed.

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I have never hit my wife, nor her me, so I don’t recognise your generalisation (or is it a genderelisation). I will agree about haircuts though – mine costs ÂŁ9 and takes 10 – 15 minutes. mrs r had hers done today; cost ÂŁ70 and took 90 minutes. If we both went to my barbers (operated, incidentally, by young ladies) and had the same quick trim without lotions, dyes, drying, and all the other stuff I’d expect her to pay the same. But I’m not sure either of us would like the result.

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Mrs W spends all afternoon at the hairdressers, has the full works, and comes back looking fabulous, hair glowing, beautifully styled, and smelling gorgeous. The next day she washes it all out, does it herself, and looks even lovelier. For her ÂŁ75 she has been pampered and calmed in a relaxing environment soothed by gentle music and a continuous supply of coffee.

I go to an elderly Italian barber who I have been using for years and he takes about twenty minutes to cut off the thatch and rearrange the ageing fibres. He does the little trimmings that Duncan mentions and entertains me with his wit and wisdom. His parlour is not so posh, the TV in the corner seems to only have Homes under the Hammer or Channel 4 Racing depending on the time of day, and downstairs there is a body art saloon from which various curious specimens of human pulchritude emerge as from a gothic vault while I await my turn. He no longer enquires about “something for the weekend” since those are now available in any Tesco’s or pub toilet. All that for just ÂŁ11 plus tip including a free read of a red-top tabloid if I need to catch up with what has been happening in the jungle or the big brother house. And it’s all a lot better since smoking was banned. What more could I ask for?

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Gender violence: terrible thing. Being kicked, head-butted, Karate-chopped, stabbed, shot and tortured convinced me never to play another game of chess with Emily Knutbuster. Most dangerous seven year old I’ve ever known.

She sounds even worse than Just William’s nemesis, the legendary Violet Elizabeth Bott.

I never visit hair salons as I cut, shampoo and style my own hair and have done so for as long as I can remember. Wow! £70 + would feed me for 2 weeks. but I do treat myself to a visit to my chiropractor for half that amount every 8 weeks, which keeps me free from back pain and enables me to carry on doing my own household chores, which at the end of the day saves me paying someone else to do it for me. A good investment all round and keeps me fit at the same time 🙂

Duncan I do sympathise with your past traumatic relationships and if I were in your shoes I would first ask myself why am I attracted to dependent and dysfunctional people in the first place?

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There’s a fine line between helping someone and encouraging them to emotionally depend upon you Duncan, which is always counter-productive for everyone involved. It’s sometimes best left to the professionals where mental health issues are concerned who are able to apply the appropriate treatment without the emotional involvement.

It’s a bit unrealistic to think you can help the world single handedly. There are many altruistic and specialist organisations who dedicate their lives helping to overcome society’s problems which you can join. Which? for example can go some way to alleviate some of the everyday consumer issues that arise, but at the same time they do emphasise the importance of consumer input to assist them in their efforts,,which highlights the significance of all of the other contributions made by people who, like yourself, want to “help the world”.

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If only finding appropriate and effective mental health help were so straightforward, Beryl. And you need the person you regard as needing help to cooperate – unless you have them sectioned (as far as I know) you cannot impose mantal health treatment upon them.

Perhaps Which? could investigate the sources of different types of mental health professionals, support, look at how to find those who are properly trained, qualified and accredited and see what the NHS can provide (and when – probably too late) and what you have to fund privately.

It seems that, according to PEYE, providing “psychologists” don’t use one of nine “protected titles” (such as educational, forensic, clinical) anyone can offer their services without being registered or regulated.

You do have some very odd beliefs, Duncan. I don’t know of a single person who “emulates-looks up to -worships and tries to copy” the US. Much the reverse, in fact. And as the father of a Psychologist I would suggest that “ (your) female (who) got “professional help ” —- and then committed suicide — with the help of the very strong drugs she was on, and alcohol” was hardly the responsibility of the professional treating her, if indeed one was, since taking alcohol is not generally a recommended course of treatment in the NHS.

But all that digression apart, the medical fraternity is fairly evenly split on the question of whether mental illnesses are actually on the rise or merely being diagnosed more accurately or frequently. The Psychiatric profession has long enjoyed a tendency to define into existence a condition through the categorisation of symptoms. But there’s little doubt that the West generally is moving towards a matriarchal society. It’s been happening for a long time and it’s of particular concern to Educationalists.

Gender stereotyping is an interesting concept. It still happens a little too much for my liking, in the media, anyway, but I’m unsure if there’s a proven connection between that and costs, as suggested by Erin. On the clothes front it’s fairly clear that women select their clothes on the basis of what will appeal to others, and not because they, themselves inherently like an item. I would suspect that’s because women are more mutually supportive than men but are also in need of external validation somewhat more often. Many women do have an external locus of identity which is more pronounced than the man’s. It seems to be that characteristic upon which supermarket marketing gurus seize and seek to exploit which they do by producing a far wider range of female clothing.

“thats right the USA third , the same country the whole of the West emulates-looks up to -worships and tries to copy”. Really – I doubt that very much.

“Stand on your own feet” is not helped when there are easy taxpayer-funded alternatives for the lazy. I’d argue that most of us get through life by our own determination to knuckle down to learn at school, college, do a job properly (whether employed or self employed). Yest, there will be people who genuinely cannot cope, and we should help them. The danger is if help goes to people who are not so deserving the whole system becomes top-heavy, swamped, underfunded and the real vulnerable people suffer. No one owes us a living. We owe the vulnerable care and assistance. Sorting out the genuine recipients is the problem we face.

Malcolm physical violence, the kind reported by Duncan is grounds for sectioning under the 1983 Mental Health Act irrespective of gender.

Duncan, every case is individual and different and open to questioning, which means blaming another country or their methodology is not recommended when treating mental illness. Moreover, it is pretty common knowledge the dangers of mixing alcohol with drugs. Many alcoholics suffer from an underlying mental illness and resort to alcohol as a means of medicating themselves but sadly end up with addiction as well as mental illness. Also to take drugs with alcohol is a recipe for disaster.

It has been the subject of recent debate that continuous and prolonged psychological abuse can be even worse than physical abuse, the effects of which, not being immediately obvious or visible are harder to detect and therefore treat.

We have veered off topic once again so will leave it there, except to say it is possible to prevent someone’s else’s recovery by accepting abuse from them, in which case anyone who believes they should put up with this type of maltreatment ought to be questioning the reason why they do.

Beryl, I am intrigued about how you manage to cut and style your hair at the back. Do you use a selfie-stick and take pictures as you go so you can see how it’s going?

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Just for the record, suicide rates are not concealed; there are various sources, including the Samaritans. As it happens, male suicide rates decreased in the UK by 5.6% between 2013 and 2014 while female rates increased by 8.3% over the same period. It is impossible to say whether this is a long-term trend although the overall rates of suicide have been falling over time for both sexes. The suicide rates per sex for people aged 3-29 are proportionate to the rates for other age groups with roughly three times more male than female suicides.

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While it’s true student suicides have increased, overall suicides have decreased. In particular Atkins group universities are seeing more self-harm among students whose academic issues might be causing them concern. It’s a very tricky field to fathom, simply because different places use different techniques and recording methods but the overall consensus seems to be that overall suicide rates are falling, although female postgrads appear to be overrepresented and present a significant statistical anomaly. However, and purely from my own thoughts, I wonder if the recent small increase might be allied to the increase in student tuition fees and the concurrent course difficulties. Combined, these might seem overwhelming to a young person.

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Well I did rather hope I wouldn’t be asked that question John as it’s complicated, but here goes……….

I have a dressing table with 3 mirrors (one central and 2 side ones) which allow me to view the left and right sections at the back. I first divide all my hair into sections and secure each section with either clips or hair bands.
I use a portable dressing table hand mirror to view the centre back which I cut blind to match the already cut sides at the back using small sections of hair held between the first and second fingers, (as you have probably witnessed your barber doing). I then cut the side sections near the ears making sure each side matches up, and lastly the fringe. I then move to a larger mirror in the bathroom situated directly under a downlighter and check for any bits that need levelling using the portable hand mirror in one hand and scissors in the other. It sounds complicated but as with all new ventures, practice makes perfect. It’s very important to use hairdressers scissors and not the ones from the cutlery draw in the kitchen!

I must add that it is not too easy to wear shoulder protection whilst carrying out all the necessary manoeuvres so I usually end up removing all clothing during the cutting stages and then straight into a nice hot shower to wash away any remains of hair left on my skin and hey presto! job done 🙂

PS. I did warn you the description would be much more complicated than the action!

Thank you, Beryl. I was going to ask whether you were lucky enough to have one of those three-section mirrors that are rarely seen these days. My late M-i-L had one on a beautiful curvaceous and Walnut-veneered dressing-table. By angling the wing mirrors one could almost see all round. By using cross-reflection and turning the head, as an owl does, a virtual circumnavigation of the dome was possible; just the nape escaped.

Duncan – I am not disputing the rise in student suicides but they are a segment within a category where the overall trend is downwards. The interpretation of statistics and causes is problematic, as Ian has said, but we need to bear in mind that the number of students has increased markedly over the last decade and I would hazard that there are people within the student population who are not suited to the pressures [or the liberties] of further and higher education.

Yes John, I can recall as a child peering into the wing mirrors of my mothers dressing table and the fascination of watching myself in multiplicity becoming increasingly smaller and further and further away finally disappearing into infinity………….

Sorry, Duncan: yes, I did, and the problem presented is that the ONS groups suicides according to several criteria which make definitive statements about rates difficult without hedging what you’re saying with numerous conditions. There has been a rise – interestingly – in older male suicides but without knowing the criteria used to define a suicide (they do change) what I said, gleaned from several different sources seems to be correct.

Seem to have drifted a little off topic? I plead guilty.
Perhaps someone could provide a comprehensive list of supermarket products that are over-priced according to gender and we could look at alternative ways of purchasing to avoid this “exploitation”. Incidentally, we seem to concentrate on males and females but what about others? How do they cope?

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I think we all have the same amount of choice with our grooming products whoever or whatever we are, Duncan.

It’s about time there was a bit more cross-representation of alternative styles and characters in the modern media without mockery, especially on TV. Shakespeare’s Viola from Twelfth Night [or What You Will] , and lots of other roles from classical drama and pantomime, paved the way, largely through the comic arts, for exploring the excitement of travesty. Now, as society becomes culturally more mature, transgender issues can be treated seriously and enter the mainstream. I welcome the acceptance of difference and inclusion as it might relieve many people of mental torment, anxiety and subordination. If – through the latest clinical procedures – it leads to the success of gender reassignment so much the better. I appreciate this might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it will not do you any harm.

What I don’t get is your last sentence: who are being made “worse”, and in what way?

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Now we really are off topic and in an area I personally feel is unsuited to a Which? Convo. I raised the question of why only male/female in a genuine way. I’m sorry that it deflected the Convo in this way. 🙁

As Michael Winner might have said about an insurance advert: “Calm down, Duncan – it’s just a commercial”. It’s just a bit of [badly made] fun. No actor was forced against their will to wear high heels and posture provocatively. Does it send up men? Or women? Does it matter? Not a lot.

There’s a lot you need to know about enforced female sexual exploitation before you generalise about prostitution and pornography but this is not the place to go into that.

With specific reference to the MoneySuperMarket commercials, personally I think you have misread the messages that are coming from the adverts you dislike and are attributing more to them than they can possibly sustain. By all accounts, despite some complaints, the latest ‘dance-off’ advert is a very big hit with the viewers. If there was any risk to young children from possibly seeing those adverts [which are not shown on daytime TV] they would not have been passed for broadcasting.

I caught the tail-end [literally] of Mrs Brown’s Boys before watching the News this evening. I suppose that’s off your watch list as well. Judging by the roars of applause it must have been awful.

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I agree Malcolm and I was about to delve into the multiple universe theory through reflection and refraction of light in wing mirrors! All emanating from price differences between gender merchandise!

It’s fascinating the way this topic has veered (although probably foreseeable as the basis for it was an increasingly blurred definition of gender) and the use of ‘Stereotyping’ in the header was almost bound to push the good ship Intention towards the reef.

But if it does one thing it throws into sharp relief the need for flexibility in the way topics are created. No one can doubt some very useful and informative interchanges have occurred in here, but they almost certainly warrant their own topic. Having said all that nothing posted in here is beyond Which?’s remit or area of concern. It was created, after all, as a social enterprise in the best sense.

It also highlights a need to avoid the commodification of people and their culture through indiscriminate advertising in an attempt to initiate a herd mentality, more prevelant it would seem in females, as already touched upon in some of the postings, with little regard for the recognition and appreciation of the distinctive uniqueness and individuality of each and everyone, all in the name of monetary procurement and gain.

When will we ever shed the use of marketing techniques to exploit the suggestibility of key market segments that have been conditioned, through stereotyping, over many years to desire toiletry products and appliances that will enable them to first conform to the prevailing type and then to follow it religiously wherever, and however unsuitably, it leads? All branches of the media, advertising, product design, merchandising, and pricing conspire to bring this about – almost as though there were some over-arching force at work. I suppose there is – it’s applied psychology.

Erin – If I might suggest an amendment in your Intro. When you refer to the Fawcett Society it would be more accurate to say that it is “a” rather than “the” UK charity that campaigns for gender equality, or even “one of the UK charities that campaign . . . “.

Thanks John, that change has been made.