Rachel--I think Erik understood the rationale you'd been told (we've all heard it before) he was just pointing out how really stupid it is (as in, oh, women 6th through 4th kyu can be immodest, but modesty begins at 3rd, not until dan for men...just plain dumb).
As for guys assuming women don't know anything and 'teaching' a senior, happens no matter what either is wearing. Trust me. When I get tired of being 'taught' I usually dump them really hard on their butts. If I'm lucky I get to do it twice before they catch on and shut up.
Ignacio--good point about the import costs, import tax was what I assumed when $200 was mentioned, a lot of Americans forget what things can cost in other countries.
I think hakamas should be gender-neutral, I don't really care when one starts to wear them, but it should not be based on what equipment is hidden beneath the hakama.