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How Pockets Can Empower Women.

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“My dress have pockets… Nothing can stop me.” (James Breakwell, Xploding Unicorn)

My husband and I have long enjoyed the tweets of James Breakwell of Xploding Unicorn fame (among other publications) for many years now. Mainly because we relate to a lot of his tweets about his daughters because we have our own two (albeit a bit older, so we can laugh about it all now).  However, a recent tweet where he shared his 9 year old daughter’s delight at having pockets really struck a chord with me. 

I have to say that I love a pocket in my clothes and I have long wondered why the female of the species is often denied them. Apparently, back in the day (400 years or so ago) no one had pockets and everyone used pouches. Then, clearly some genius decided that tucking a bit of fabric into the clothing to provide a ‘go anywhere’ pouch was invented… for men. For some reason, women were denied this handy little addition. Why? Maybe whoever invented it was worried that if women had free hands that we might start carrying a weapon for killing men or something? Who knows?

Then, after a bit more research there seems to be this opinion that women don’t want pockets because it makes them look ‘bigger’. This argument also doesn’t hold because when all this was happening 400 years ago and for a good 300 years after that, women were wearing big voluminous skirts that could have had pockets big enough to house a couple of chickens or puppies (not together, that would be silly) and no one would have been any the wiser other than the occasional cheep or yap. 

Another theory circulating is that a lot of designers are men and that deep down they hate women and want to keep them powerless (and possibly stop them from carrying those man-killing weapons). Hmmm. I am not a man so I can’t possibly comment but if we weren’t toting about handbags everywhere we would have free hands to hold babies, cook food, clean houses; if we have free hands we may be able “Bring teacups and roll away headaches.” (Plath, The Applicant). Isn’t that what every society wants of its women? 

Recently I was at a wedding and when I congratulated the bride on how fabulous she looked, she leaned forward and whispered excitedly in my ear, “My dress has pockets.” 

Nothing could stop her. 

And maybe that’s why we don’t have pockets. Nothing can stop us if we’ve hands free to reach our potential. Nothing can stop us if we’ve hands free to slap away unwanted suitors. Nothing can stop us if we’ve hands free to applaud the achievements of our own heroines. 

Non-gendered fashion is loudly dancing on our horizon thanks to the millennials and their inclusive attitudes and I hope beyond hope that pockets are going to be still around in clothes to offer everyone the freedom of choice. When we have pockets (pockets that carry stuff, not just pockets that make your bum look smaller) we can choose to use them or not. Because when it is all said and done, wasn’t freedom of choice all that feminism was really after? 

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