Pink Tax refers to the broad tendency for consumer products marketed specifically towards women to be more expensive than those marketed to men, a phenomenon often attributed to gender-based price discrimination. Pink Tax is also about the invisible labour of women — women doing most of the unpaid, unrecognised work in families and in workplaces. The Harvard Business Review published a study which found that at work, women are 44% more likely than men to be asked to volunteer for “unpromotable” but time-consuming work tasks. Mothers, sisters, and daughters are all too familiar with the imbalance of labour scales (physical or emotional labour) when it comes to their male counterparts in the home.
Black women are charged both Pink and Black taxes daily, and are also the group expected to pull up others as they climb out of the misogyny and racism pulling them down. At some point, something has to give.
So, when tennis star Naomi Osaka and champion gymnast Simone Biles cited prioritising their mental health over whatever expectations others held over them, I couldn’t understand the backlash (albeit amid much praise and admiration). When shot-putter Raven Saunders openly talked about her struggle with depression and sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was demonised for smoking weed to cope with her mother’s passing, the fictive kinship kicked in hard for me. Of course, some complained that Osaka and Biles were walking away from their responsibilities. Others even criticised them for being weak! Because how dare they put themselves first? How dare they not be grateful? How dare they let their teammates/country down? How dare they not be excellent?