Opinion & Editorial

Why pockets are sexist

“Hey, can you hold my phone?”
Said every girl I’ve ever hung out with, ever. I turn into a walking purse every time I’m with a friend of the opposite sex. People don’t want to have to lug around a giant purse or not wear their favorite clothing, so I oblige. I feel bad for my friends who are forced to choose between style and pockets, which is ridiculous.
Lots of women I know just carry their keys and phone in hand until they finally give in to letting their male counterparts hold on to it. Nobody wants to walk around all day holding their stuff, so I have no problem hanging onto things in my spacious pockets.
Lack of spacious pockets for women isn’t going to end the world. It’s just one of those things that bothers me. I can fit an entire graphing calculator into just one of my jean pockets while a standard woman’s pocket can barely hold a tube of chapstick, if the clothing article even has pockets. Half the time they’re just ironed-on designs there for decoration. Sometimes they’re there but sewn shut. Worthless.
A pocket shouldn’t only be there for decoration. A pocket is there because you might lose all your valuables if they weren’t accessible to your hands at all times. Pockets should serve a purpose. They’re there to make life easier, not harder.
It’s amazing how many pockets guys have at their disposal. From shirt pockets and sweatpants pockets to even kilt pockets, clothing is stacked in our favor. Not only do men have numerous pockets, but they’re also huge. I’ve been able to hang onto to three phones, two wallets and a pair of keys in just my jeans pockets alone. Why shouldn’t women receive the same luxury?
Surprisingly, this problem isn’t new. It goes back 400 years. Starting in the late 1600s, men had pockets sewn into their coats and trousers, pretty similar to what we see today. It was a different story for women.
Sure, women had pockets too, but they were external pockets that went around their waist underneath gowns and dresses, according to the Victoria and Albert Museum. These hidden handbags were accessible through slits in their gowns and were mainly seen as decorative pieces. Women’s pockets were for style, with some even being embroidered.
Pockets went out of fashion in the 1790s when the dress style changed so that these pockets would ruin the line of the dress. This is when handbags started to increase in popularity.
It wasn’t until World War II when large numbers of women were entering the workforce, taking on traditionally male positions, that pockets started to return. Women started wearing men’s overalls and trousers as they took on their roles in factories. It soon became commonplace for women to wear these kinds of pocketed pants as casual wear.
Lots of women today want to look skinnier and have an hourglass shape, so the pockets were either shrunk or removed by clothing manufacturers.
Sadly, it makes sense why the fashion industry doesn’t include practical pockets in their designs. It’s cheaper to make that favorite pair of skinny jeans of yours without pockets. Your loss is their gain. Furthermore, with the loss of those pockets, those same companies now have an ideal market to sell their bags and purses to.
After talking to Susan Sokolowski, an associate professor with the UO product design department, I learned that when designing the side-seam pockets in jeans, manufacturers use a person’s hand size for the dimensions of the pocket. Since women have smaller hands, they get smaller pockets, which doesn’t help with today’s giant phones.
It was at this point in my research that I expected the fashion police to break down my doors and take me away for knowing too much, branding me as a conspiracy theorist, but no one cares. Pockets may be biased against women, but few bother to do anything about it.
It’s one of those everyday problems that people notice but rarely talk about. It’s a minor inconvenience with an obvious solution: Why not make women’s pockets larger and more numerous?
Pockets are sexist. The fashion industry needs to evolve to fit the needs of the modern working woman.
Until that day comes, I’ll gladly hold your phone.



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