The Pocket Problem: An Addendum

Last time I wrote about how women’s clothes generally come sans pocket and how that both reflects and reenforces gendered bullshit around subjecthood, emotional labour, and ease in the world.

Today I’m going to write just a quick follow-up about a particular way this has been impacting me lately. My work has just moved into a shiny new building that uses keycards for everything. Keycards! The wave of the future!

Keycards are great. If you have pockets. Back when we used actual keys I wore a super cool lanyard when I went for lunch or to have a pee or any of the other myriad reasons I leave my office. Now? Now I have to choose between carrying my entire purse, because it houses my wallet, which houses my keycard, or shoving it into the side of my bra. Real talk: bra wins every time*. But it may miss the mark, ever so slightly, of the hegemonic dictates of “professionalism.”

What I realized today, as I tried to ever so subtly pull my keycard out of my bra, is that the men who designed the building, the men who decided it should be keycards, the men who designed keycards in the first place will never have to reach into their bra to grab their keycard. The fact of pockets, of useful, utilitarian clothes, of clothes that let them do without thought is ingrained in them. It is a fundamental part of how they understand and interact with the world. Indeed, I think we could go so far as to say it’s an entitlement–men are entitled to clothes that let them function without jury-rigging an embarrassing solution to an easily fixable problem, while women are scorned for problem-solving that same problem.**

*The lack of pockets in workout wear is such an issue that I ended up buying an entire new device (an iPod shuffle) because I was worried I’d ruin my phone by sticking it in my bra at the gym. I had to buy a new electronic device that does the same job as an existing one because no one will give me a god damn pocket!

**The “women bring their purses everywhere” jokes, the “purses contain everything!” jokes, the side-eye at stuffing things in your bra because there is literally nowhere else to put it.

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7 thoughts on “The Pocket Problem: An Addendum

  1. Two great posts. I try to be unencumbered but often achieve it by telling my husband I’m not taking money, phone or keys, thus becoming the woman who must be looked after and paid for by her husband. For the key card though I’d look out for a card holder on a lariat or a clip so I could carry on wearing it.

  2. Yeah, you can’t win with the purse thing. “Women, always bringing too much stuff everywhere, amiright?” Or “Ew, why would you put things in your bra, so gross!” Nevermind that bras are often the most pocket-like clothing women have.

  3. My mom has frequently requested that my sister and I start a business called “Kitty Fisher” (she found Lucy Locket’s lost pocket) that just sews functional pockets onto stylish clothes from thrift stores. Having been unemployed for the past four months with no upcoming prospects, I just might…

    Anyone in the SF Bay Area interested in helping out?

  4. What about a retractable lanyard that clips discretely on your clothing? My boss dresses to the nines in superfeminine clothes, yet she manages to hook her keycard to a beltloop or to a bracelet so it’s always handy.

    A keycard doesn’t have to be a sign of male oppression.

  5. You can still use a keycard with a lanyard, you just have to find one with a plastic cover. Is used one when I worked a job that required a keycard, because the darn thing always fell out of a shirt pocket, and was a pain to add to over used pants pockets!

  6. I truly hate the lack of pockets in our lives. I once worked at a company that designed denim pants for women and the front pockets were always only 3″ deep. With the opening, that really just gives you about 1.5″ of usable space. It was a mockery.
    Women go everywhere with purses because our lack of pockets give us no choice. People won’t give us pockets because we go everywhere with purses. The cycle won’t end because designers refuse to allow it.

    Then again, I also worked for one woman who designed every dress with pockets. Bless that woman. She was crazy in personality, but bless her for rebelling.
    (That I can refer to this as rebelling is also quite sad.)

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