As of January 1, 2023, a new law in California will forbid companies from charging higher prices for products marketed toward a specific gender, according to Yahoo News.
The legislation specifically targets the higher prices often placed on products marketed towards women, commonly referred to as the “Pink Tax.”
Under this new law, a court may issue an injunction to prevent any violations of the Pink Tax ban, regardless of whether any individual has been directly affected by the violation. In addition, a civil penalty of up to $10,000 can be imposed for the first violation, with subsequent violations resulting in a penalty of $1,000 each. The total penalty cannot exceed $100,000. If the defendant continues to violate the Pink Tax law with regard to the same goods, or any other goods, after the maximum penalty has been imposed, the court may impose additional civil penalties beyond the $100,000 maximum.
Despite its stated intentions, California’s new law addressing the cost of feminine hygiene products has several negative consequences. One significant issue is that it disregards the fact that the market price of these products is often higher due to the demand and willingness of women to pay more for them. By imposing price caps on these items, the law interferes with the principles of a free market economy.
It is important to recognize that women, as consumers, have the choice to buy whatever products they want. They may choose to purchase specifically marketed items for women, such as women’s razors or women’s shampoo, which often come with a higher price tag due to the demand from women willing to pay more for them.
It is not mandatory for women to buy any specific goods and most products are available in unisex versions, meaning there is no societal pressure forcing women to pay more. For example, Head and Shoulders shampoo, BIC razors, and Supercuts are all unisex and generally cheaper than products specifically marketed towards men or women.
This law could decrease the number of products targeted toward women because businesses will consider it a risk.
Overall, this new law could give the government more control over the economy under the pretext of advancing women’s rights. It can grant California’s government the authority to forcibly set prices for businesses that are perceived as trying to make a profit. This could particularly harm small businesses, as they may not have the resources to withstand such interference. Additionally, because it is difficult to decide which products are specifically comparable, this law gives the government power to arbitrarily intimidate businesses.