Racked writer Chelsea G. Summers wrings her hands over this appalling discovery: Men's clothes typically have a lot of pockets, and women's clothes don't.
Or actually, women's clothes often do feature pockets–but they're usually purely decorative and useless for storing keys, phones, and loose change, forcing their wearers to spend huge sums of money on handbags. They're pockets of oppression.
And, as Summers writes:
A bag is not a pocket, and pockets — more than pants, more than ties, more than boxer-briefs, even more than suits — are the great clothing gender divide.
Men’s dress is designed for utility; women’s dress is designed for beauty. It’s not a giant leap to see how pockets, or the lack thereof, reinforce sexist ideas of gender. Men are busy doing things; women are busy being looked at. Who needs pockets?
And this has dire political consequences:
Take away pockets happily hidden under garments, and you limit women’s ability to navigate public spaces, to carry seditious (or merely amorous) writing, or to travel unaccompanied.
Summers's article focused on the white pantsuit that Hillary Clinton wore to accept the Democratic presidential nomination (her suit jacket suit actually featured a couple of front pockets–but they seem to be sewn shut). But feminists have actually been crying "So unfair!" about the lack of pocket parity for some time. Here's Mic style writer Rachel Lubitz back in February:
The 21st century, what little of it we've experienced so far, is sick of this s[—]. Women want pockets big and wide on the back of their jeans and the front. We want pockets in every dress we own. We want pockets in shirts and skirts and jackets and any possible garment where one will fit. We want to put a screeching halt to fake pockets that fool us. But most of all, we want pockets that fit our phones.
Big pockets are popping up, of all places, on red carpets, where women such as Amy Schumer are rocking pocketed dresses with their hands tucked ever-so-stylishly into them. But that doesn't mean it's trickled down to real clothing, like, jeans, where we really need them for our iPhones. Every iteration of the phone has gotten bigger, bringing with it a panic among women that one day, we will all be forced to either hold our phones or throw them into increasingly messy bags where they will never be found again.
When you look back at history, what we're really asking for is equality.
And here's Tanya Basu in the Atlantic way back in 2014:
But the biggest problem might be the lack of pockets in the first place: women's slacks, dresses, and blazers often have no pockets, or worse, “fake” pockets that serve no utilitarian purpose besides sartorially leading the wearer on to believe they have a handy wardrobe aide, until it’s too late.
So Basu turns to an expert:
Camilla Olson, creative director of an eponymous high tech fashion firm, points to inherent sexism within the industry. Mid-range fashion is a male dominated business, driven not by form and function, but by design and how fabric best drapes the body….
Olson believes the industry is overly focused on the visual appeal of clothing rather than how it can help women—and men, for that matter—live simpler, easier lives. She thinks it’s this preoccupation that’s kept the fashion industry from becoming relevant in today’s technocentric society.
“I find it discouraging,” Olson said. “Fashion looks selectively at who they let in and keeps women at a certain place. It’s not helping women move forward in the workplace.” Olson says that some designers have deemed pockets “too ugly” for clothing, while others simply don't think women need them. And these decisions, she says, have created a chasm in women’s fashion, and hold women back.
So I decided to click onto that Camilla Olson link to see what sort of non-sexist pockets she's been stitching into her garments to fill that "chasm" between what clothing women want and what clothing men foist upon them. I found this:
Camilla Olson has suspended her namesake ready-to-wear label.
Hmm, here's a thought for you, Camilla (and Tanya, Rachel, and Chelsea): The reason women in the real world–in contrast to the imaginary world of feminist journalism–don't use the pockets in their jackets, slacks, and dresses for stuffing phones, keys, wallets, Kleenex packs, Tic Tacs and the like is that women like to look sleek and attractive and show off their figures without unslightly bulges.
Maybe it's not sexism but the difference between the sexes.