A women's rights group in France called Georgette Sand says it has found a hidden "women's tax" on common products.
The group says products targeted toward women — things like shampoos, deodorants or razors — are more expensive than essentially identical versions made for men. It's only when they're packaged and labeled as "women's" goods that prices are bumped up, they argue, and they've set up a Tumblr page to prove it.
The group has also started a petition that has received about 30,000 signatures. "They said 'Hey women, look around — how is it that our disposable razors are more expensive than men's disposable razors? This is unfair,'" says Alexandria Sage, a reporter for Reuters in France.
It's not just supermarket items, either: They say services such as dry cleaning and hair care also cost more, too.
Sage says that while Georgette Sand is going up against big names like Gillette, they've been successful at drawing attention to the issue. The group met with France's women's rights minister, which seems to have sparked some action.
"She went back to the health minister and the finance ministe, and now they have charged France's Consumer Protection Agency to do a study," Sage says. The officials haven't promised major changes yet, but Sage says that businesses in France are heavily regulated, so it's likely the matter will get more attention.
There is still an obvious loophole available to businesses: Sage says it will difficult for the French government to regulate these products if the companies can argue that the "feminine" products are more elaborate to make. But she says that many in France won't be happy if the issue is not addressed.
"Everything is expensive in France, anyway," Sage points out. "It's annoying to think that if I want the pink toothbrush rather than the blue toothbrush, I'm being had.