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    Pockets and patriarchy: The story of women's pockets

    A woman's excitement when she finds a dress or a jacket with big comfy pockets is wild. And slightly sad. Women are deprived of the convenience and functionality of a simple pocket, even though all garments, even skirts, and kurtas are perfectly capable of having a pocket sewed in. 

    But it seems like a problem that is not too hard to solve. So why are women still wearing pants with fake 'only-for-display' pockets? There is a long history and some plain old economics in play here.

    Here's what you should know: 

    A coincidence, and then some sexism

    Before pockets were invented, both men and women carried pouches tied around their waists to carry valuables.

    When pockets came around, women’s clothing fell a little behind simply because of the many-many layers in women’s clothing. Corsets, Petticoats, under petticoats, linings, the works.

    However, even when the layers fell away, women's pockets didn't come into being. This is because the focus now was on hugging, tight clothing that accentuated an hour-glass figure and left no room for pockets. The same fashion trend carries on today in slip-on dresses, jeggings, jeans etc.

    Enter Patriarchy

    What allowed these sexist aesthetics to flourish was the fact that most people didn't see the need for women's pockets. Pockets were for carrying money and valuables when you were stepping out. 

    Women were not encouraged to be financially independent, so why would they need pockets to carry money?

    And if their job is to stay home, tend to the kitchen and the household, why create an accessory that's useful only when you're stepping out?
    Many centuries of such aesthetics, designs and principles normalised the absence of pockets in women's clothing. Hence the norm continued even when women started stepping out and earning.

    Cat's out of the bag

    Here's the final nail: Women's handbags. A gigantic industry targeted mainly at one gender. The lack of a pocket justifies the existence of the handbag and the impossibility of a woman stepping out in the world without one. 

    The lack of pockets makes handbags not a fashion choice, but a necessity. An ever-consistent and growing demand. And that's just good business. 

    Why would one make slightly less tight pants with pockets when they can instead sell a handbag at a much higher cost?

    It's profit for fashion corporations that has kept this trend rooted in sexism and patriarchy still alive. Even though the world is a more equal place than before, it's business economics that's normalising the missing women's pocket.

    A change of clothes...

    Women's wallets too have often been bigger and bulkier than men's cause they are meant to sit inside a handbag and not a pocket. At Arture we made sure that, that wasn't the only option.

    Our wallet, Ember, is a pocket-sized sleek women's wallet that fits even tight pockets. Take that, sexist fashion trends!

    The next time you shop, maybe actively look for alternatives with pockets. And spread the word too. Encourage young girls to wear jumpers and pants with pockets so they can be handsfree and more active from a young age.

    And the next time you slip on something without a pocket, make sure it's a choice YOU make, and not the centuries-old patriarchal societies and industrialists. 

    1 Response

    Rashi Gupta

    Rashi Gupta

    April 20, 2021

    Very important to acknowledge. Thanks to the writer for writing it and making it in notice. I, myself has tweeted about this. Read here

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