The elephant in the room that is no larger than 18 x 18 centimetres
WORDS BY NELL COHEN
We’ve had the #MeToo movement, the Australian university ‘Red Zone’ report, we followed iconic women such as Rosie Batty, Cheryl Sandberg, Clementine Ford, Roxanne Gay, and the Pretty for an Aboriginal podcast.
Meanwhile we witnessed the downfalls of Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard, and the persistence of the gender pay gap. In the era of Edgy Memes (for edgy teens), sexist, racist and homophobic meme culture has encouraged new forms of bullying amongst teenagers. Girls are called “feminazis” and “triggered” for resisting everyday sexism, on and offline.
The patriarchy is very much alive. We still need feminism. And yet, many of women’s’ everyday battles go under the radar. Oppression occurs in ways that we are yet to fully comprehend.
This is why we need to talk about pockets.
Women are disadvantaged by their pockets. To prove this with empirical evidence, I went into the deep and dark recesses of a middle-aged heterosexual couple’s wardrobe (my parents). My findings? My dad’s pocket sizes ranged from 18 to 26 centimetres in length and 15 to 20 centimetres in width. His pants all had front and back pockets. Of my mum’s pants and shorts that had pockets, they mainly measured from 12 to 18 centimetres in length and 13 to 18 centimetres in width. There was one dress that had a pocket, out of at least a dozen.
For younger women the results are even more dismal. Many shorts, pants, skirts and dresses, don’t have pockets at all. Some clothing brands even have the audacity to give women fake pockets. It’s criminal, really. The issue goes back hundreds of years of fashion trends. While men’s clothing was designed for practicality, women’s clothing sought to complement her figure and maximise attractiveness to the male gaze. The lack of storage room in a women’s garment is a micro-aggression of systemic inequality.
Alas this discrepancy results in a woman’s need for a handbag. We often feel pressured to have at least one black bag and one of the colour of their choosing. There are different sizes and designs for different occasions; casual, travel, cocktail parties, small, large, etc. And of course, the handbag needs to match the outfit. Not to mention, as mobile phones get larger, the usage of women’s pockets decreases.
Clearly the expenses of women’s clothing and accessories exceed that of men’s, which doesn’t help women when taking into account the gender pay gap, and traditional gender roles of women as homemakers, while the men, breadwinners.
And of course, for women who are flustered and absent-minded like myself, the chances of losing my handbag, and therefore my phone, wallet, coin pouch, keys, Panadol, Ritalin, antihistamine, water bottle, mints, dental floss, hand sanitiser, phone charger, headphones, tissues, USB, lip balm, tampons, pens, notepad, deodorant, glasses and sunglasses, are way higher than any man I know.
There’s a saying that you can tell a lot about a man by the contents of his pockets. For a woman – her handbag. We must dismantle the capitalist, patriarchal machine that taxes women simply because they have vaginas. Arguably, #ItsTime we de-gender the pocket.