The fact that women have to spend more of our less-than-a-man’s wages on disposable items is part of the conspiracy to keep us down. There is the obvious, and the unavoidable, like “feminine products.” We resent this expense, even as we acknowledge there is little way around it. Of course, we now have a birth control pill that reduces the length of the period and can lead to the absence of periods. Disposable feminine products cost the average American woman $12 per month. This “period-be-gone” pill costs $55 per month.
I’m not sure if this belongs in this post on disposable items, but tampons and periods lead us directly to “period underwear.” Most women I know keep these. Whether they are “the ones with ‘Pink’ on the back” or “the ones with dalmatians,” they get lumped in a little pile in a corner of the drawer and are called “period underpants.” Most women spend an average of $5 per month on panties.
We have all indulged and purchased $12.50 pantyhose from Victoria’s Secret. Once. We only do this once, because no matter how silky they feel and no matter how much we enjoy the secret of wearing these special, expensive hose the day we wear them, that’s the problem: We only get to wear them one day.
My conspiracy theory is supported by the fact that many corporations enforce a dress code requiring women to wear hose, even in the summer. The average working woman goes through 12 pair of pantyhose per month.
We’ve all tried Dollar Store pantyhose. Some women will say they haven’t, but I don’t believe them. The complication/contradiction with these is that they last forever, but we don’t want them to; they are so thick they feel like socks and the color is always a little too frosty white or a frightening fake-tan orange. (We use the Dollar Store for lots of other disposable items we buy: lip gloss, tweezers, nail clippers, and little notepads to carry in our purses, and birthday cards for relatives or friends’ kids. I recently saw pregnancy tests at my Dollar Store, and I thought, “I would probably buy one here, if I thought I was pregnant, but then, I wouldn’t trust it.”)
“Dress code” makes me think about clothes, but if I started talking about clothes, I’d never get done with this piece, and I wouldn’t be able to run to Rite-Aid for cotton balls. (I just realized I am out of cotton balls, and I will need them tonight to remove my $4.50 worth of makeup with my $8 bottle of makeup remover.)
Sure, you can say that both sexes buy disposable razors, but the thing is men have an option with the electric razor. An electric razor gets nowhere near close enough for our legs, to enable us to maintain that smooth and silky look and feel we have been trained to obtain—and so that we don’t snag our pantyhose (see above).
And ok, maybe there’s a line between what we have to buy and what we have been indoctrinated to buy, but look at the direction the culture moves in: Waxing, which costs about $75 and needs to be repeated once a month, or six weeks if you’re a slacker, has become mandatory. According to a study by Pantene, women purchase $50,000 worth of products and spend about seven months total on hair in a lifetime. Enough said.
The other day I heard a PSA reminding folks how much of their holiday “needs” can be recycled, like cookie trays and deli platters, aluminum turkey pans and plastic cutlery. I am a recycling nut—I pop the plastic window out the cardboard pasta box so I can recycle the box; I rinse out the tiny cup of salad dressing from a to-go box—but this is mostly to make up for the fact that I take excessively long showers.
Thinking about the holiday trappings, I actually started feeling a bit better (though I knew it was wrong): Here was stuff men have to buy just to throw away as well.
During the holidays, we spend so much money on things that we know we are going to throw away. Sure there are the obvious things, like wrapping paper and Christmas trees and live wreaths, but what about things that shouldn’t be disposable, like Christmas lights? Am I the only one who has to replace at least half of my lights—either indoor or outdoor, or both—every year? (See pantyhose paragraph.) How about things we just like to have at Christmas, like scented candles (“pine,” even though we have a tree, and “Christmas cookie,” since we bought rather than baked)?
Damn. At the risk of sounding sexist myself, um … which gender is most frequently responsible for picking up live wreaths and cookie trays? I should just take my three-quarter-sized paycheck and light a candle with it.