Gender Inequality, the shoe’s on the other foot

If you’ve been reading the newspaper columns this year, you’ve bound to have heard how women pay 37% more than men on the high street or are even overcharged everyday on products that are packaged differently but are actually no different from mens – pink razors, pens and deodorant are the most cited examples.

So when I went to treat myself for Chinese New Year, I went straight to the men’s section of my semi-local Decathlon store. I wanted to buy some new running trainers as my current ones are tattered, torn and a bit of old after years of running across, up and down four countries.

I looked at some reviews online and decided to try a pair of Kalenji’s, specially designed for long distances. The colour was a nice dark blue, the 40 fitted fine and I was happy to pay the 399块 (about £40). Until I walked past the ladies section, just to see if they had any purple ones. I found the same shoe, in a bright pink, ‘ladies’ version (I measured, the shoes were exactly the same). Besides the colours and the fact that the men’s laces were longer, something else was different…the price.

Pink or blue?

After all I’ve been reading recently, I assumed there would be no difference in China, and the ladies shoe would be more expensive than the men’s. But to my surprise, the ladies shoe was 29% cheaper, at 299块  (about £30).

I was shocked, outraged and very confused. How could quite clearly the exact same shoe differ so much in price, only due to the colour and it being in the mens/womens section?

663695312069214461In my outrage, I took both sets of shoes to the till to ask if they really were different prices, maybe they’d made a mistake? Maybe my laowai charm would make them scan the pink ones but give me the blue ones? The 服务员 told me that yes, they were different prices. I asked her why, she said ‘different colour, different price’. I pleaded with her “but the blue ones are so nice, why are they 100块 more expensive?”, but she didn’t budge and told me (nicely, not aggressively) “if you want the blue ones, spend another 100”. I sighed, said no, I’m on a student budget.

She told me if I sign up to be a Decathlon member, not only will I get some points, but she would give me a free frisbee. Sold. I spent 10 mins filling in details to become a Decathlon 会员 and walked away with my pink trainers.

But I’m still considering changing them to the blue. What should I do? I really liked the blue ones, but the difference in price just made me so upset and angry, I should probably stick to the pink ones out of principal, and my Dad said they’ll lose their pink shine soon enough anyway.


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