Pocket-Sized Prejudice

I’m pretty sure that everyone is aware of the overall frustration that comes with owning women’s jeans, whether you were the one complaining, or you had to suffer from a rant about them. With this point of frustration, I am obviously referring to the fact that pockets in women’s jeans are complete rubbish. They’re way too small, and if the designer really wanted to screw with you, they’ll give you the illusion that you’ve got at least a tiny pocket, when, in fact, you don’t. Of course, as if this wasn’t infuriating enough at times, it seems there are still some people out there who don’t understand how utterly inconvenient these good-for-nothing pockets really are. Don’t believe me? Allow me to give you an example: I can recall with the most astonishing clarity a moment a few months back when a guy told me he found it unattractive when a woman kept her phone in her back pocket. I kid you not when I say that three women, who had not been part of this ‘conversation’, whipped their heads around and yelled various versions of “where else are we supposed to keep it?” and “our pockets are too small”. I cannot deny that I didn’t have a similar, highly annoyed reaction myself after hearing this comment. Especially since I had not asked for his opinion or commentary on whether it looked attractive or appealing if I kept my phone in my back pocket. Then again, if it wasn’t for this one guy, I would still be deceiving myself into thinking that keeping my phone in my back pocket was super attractive and that guys loved it when I wear it like that because that’s obviously why I keep it there. 

Why women’s pockets are too small to fit anything but maybe a Bobby pin—if we are lucky enough to be blessed with pockets at all—still baffles me. But I guess, realistically speaking, I really shouldn’t be. It’s no secret that over the course of history, women’s fashion has been anything but functional or comfortable. It seems that the phrase ‘form over function’ can be seen as the golden thread that connects all fashion trends for women. Take corsets for example, which were worn during the Victorian age and long after to create this ideal image of thin-waisted girls with big bosoms and bottoms in order to appeal to the male definition of female beauty. Another example would be the Chinese tradition of foot-binding, where women were only considered marriageable if their feet were four inches or smaller. For reference, the average smartphone is about five inches long. Quite frankly, I could write entire articles on either of these subjects, and I almost did after spending way too much time researching these two historic fashion trends. If I’d done so, I would’ve made a general observation that the goal of women’s fashion seems to be looking good and appealing to men. Huh, I guess the guy who commented on the unattractiveness of my phone in my back pocket was justified after all. I mean, if fashion is truly meant to appeal to men, then I hereby give my sincerest apologies for any man I have so shamefully let down by keeping my phone in my back pocket. How dare I? I should be considering myself lucky that I don’t have to wear a corset or bind my feet, the least I could do is keep my phone somewhere it doesn’t obstruct the view of my butt. I should be grateful that for me, beauty isn’t pain, but mere discomfort.

Yet, despite knowing how much better off women are nowadays in the fashion department, I cannot help it but find these ridiculously small pockets to be unfair. This stems from a simple reason: I know that it can be done, I know that we could have bigger pockets because, for some completely unthinkable reason, men do get to have big pockets. Here I am, unattractively cramming my phone in my back pocket—which, let’s face it, is still too small—while in the meantime anyone wearing men’s jeans is granted pockets that seem as endless as that magical bag Hermione carried in the last movie. It’s just not right, and I know for a fact that I am not the only one who is beyond annoyed at what I like to call jean sexism. 

That brings me to the million-dollar question: why do women have such small pockets in the first place? The answer is quite simple actually, so allow me to answer it with another question. To all those wearing women’s jeans: what do you do when you need to go somewhere, and you have to bring multiple things with you? That’s right: you bring a purse or a handbag. And this might come as a shock to you (if you’ve never worn women’s jeans and don’t talk to girls much) but, when I say multiple objects, I’m referring to a phone, a wallet, and keys. That’s it. We can’t fit these three simple items in the pockets of our jeans because the fashion industry would rather sell us handbags and purses than give the comfort, nay, luxury of reasonably sized pockets. The reason they don’t mind giving men big pockets is that the chances of selling purses and handbags to men are close to none, since they are considered to be very feminine fashion items. But women have, historically speaking, always carried handbags and purses since, up until the 60s, they commonly wore skirts. As far as I know, most skirts and dresses don’t have pockets, and nowadays when they do, we will tend to tell you so with too much enthusiasm. I think almost anyone will recognize the scene of someone complimenting a dress and instantly getting the response: “thanks, it has pockets!”, followed by the wearer putting their hands in the pockets to show you. We have become so excited at the prospect of having actual pockets, yet as long as the fashion industry can make money off of selling us purses instead, we’re unlikely to get them. Last year, the fashion industry made almost 11 million dollars by selling handbags in the United States alone. Do we really expect them to give up on such a golden goose just so we can have deeper pockets? They have been making money off of our lack of pockets for over half a century, while we still cheer when we can fit in a set of keys. Our sole solution has been carrying a bag for just a few things, or to ask our bag-carrying friend to hold our stuff (yes, I’m very much guilty of the latter). But really, it’s no wonder that women’s bags are always so full of seemingly useless items; that way we feel more validated in having to bring a whole bag in the first place.  

In short, as a person wearing women’s jeans, we have to constantly ask ourselves what kind of judgement we are ready to face: ridicule about all the useless stuff in our bags, or unprompted comments about how unattractive we look with our phone in our back pockets. It’s a problem we face almost daily and it’s one that’s easily solvable, and yet I doubt we will see a change any time soon. At least not as long as it suits the fashion industry and their money-filled pockets. I just pray that those pockets are as small as ours.


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