LAURA CARTLEDGE: Sexist shoes are a sign of being short-changed

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What gender would you say these shoes are?

No, it isn’t something I’d ever thought about either.

In fact, I’d argue, as far as footwear goes, the classic plimsoll has to be one of the most unisex options going.

But I would be wrong, that is, if a well-known sports shop is to be believed.

There is a gender.

You see these are girl shoes.

The reason I know is that another set of the same pairs, in the same size, colour and make, and hanging on the same rack, were more expensive.

Which makes them boy shoes, apparently.

It is just another head-scratch-worthy moment the wonderful, and inexplicable, world of retail offers us on a regular basis.

“You see this one, this has pink writing inside” – said the salesman, grasping at straws.

As if that would be reason enough to get a discount.

Perhaps pink ink is cheaper, I genuinely don’t know.

“But that doesn’t help me here, does it?” was along the lines of my reply as I held two pairs of identical blue shoes aloft – all bar the price tag.

‘Maybe it is a size thing?’ he hoped.

It wasn’t. Both of them were five-and-a-half.

By which point my partner has turned up to find me half-buried in the display unit.

Determined, if such lunacy was going to exist, that I certainly wasn’t going to pay more for it.

“I need a pair of girl’s burgundy shoes,” I told him from the depths.

“How can you tell?” came his muffled reply.

To which, as politely as I could, I told him “I suppose you have to check their genitalia.”

I mean, seriously.

It was so ridiculous you just had to laugh.

Don’t get me wrong, with all the press about the wage difference lately I think us ladies could do with £2 discounts here and there.

The headlines tell us that for every £1 a man earns, women get 80p.

So if a gent earns £10, that difference makes us even again.

It also hasn’t escaped my notice that the shoes are horribly cheap.

And I want to make it clear I am not grumbling over the money for price reasons – just for the utterly bizarre justification I was given.

There’s little doubt in my mind that there’s a trading standards issue going on.

Through lack of clarity, if not anything else.

And, most of all, I feel like it is the tip of a bigger mountain.

The path up which is littered with things like haircuts and misogynist motor services.

But it is a two-way street – you might dispute.

Car insurance used to be ‘unfairly’ weighted the other way.

The thing is my point isn’t about point scoring, it is the fact I get the feeling we are all being taken for a ride.

Gender needs to stop being a reason for difference, after all no-one likes it when the shoe is on the other foot.