Justice

This Company Made Gendered Earplugs and Twitter Is Having a Field Day

April 17th 2016

By:
Aron Macarow

It's not just gendered pens anymore. Bic's "For Her" pens — designed especially for women — were absurd enough, but now comes gendered earplugs, courtesy of Hearos, an American manufacturer. Women's earplugs are now a thing. Really.

In all-pink packaging presumably meant to appeal to female buyers, the "Sleep Pretty in Pink" earplugs claim to be "silky soft, designed for women," according to the manufacturer's website. The company proudly proclaims that it is the first brand "to recognize women's plight," which apparently is the struggle against snoring and other nighttime sleep disturbances, especially on the part of husbands. Because women couldn't have any other reason for needing hearing protection, right?

Earplugs that are both needlessly gendered and heterosexist? Sign me up!

Not to be left behind, Walgreens is selling its own brand of knockoff pink women's earplugs. But Twitter users aren't having any of it, hilariously lambasting both companies for their misguided attempts to market to women.

It gets worse. As one Twitter user recently pointed out, the earplugs marketed to women are more expensive than the non-female model in some cases:

Twitter attempted to come up with a reason for the price difference, too, with hilarious results.

Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated thing. Women already make less than men on average, earning just 79 cents to every dollar earned by men in 2015. But products marketed to women also typically cost more. This approach — described as "shrink it and pink it" — is pervasive: Products marketed exclusively to women cost more 42 percent of the time, according to a recent study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.

What costs more for women?  

"Women need to call out companies and put the pressure on brands and retailers to fix the pricing," Jenn Steele, who works in product marketing, told U.S. News & World Report.

To find out more about products that typically cost women a premium and more about gendered pricing in general, check out the hashtags #pinktax, #genderpricing, and #gendertax on Twitter. In the meantime, maybe don't buy the pink earplugs — unless they're priced equally to ones sold to men. And you happen to like pink.