By Georgia Wilkinson
I was out with a friend of mine, when he asked if I had any painkillers. After a quick rootle around in my bag, I produced some. He started laughing and announced that he loves hanging out with girls, because they always have everything in their bags that you could possibly need. I couldn’t really fault his logic – to provide him with the painkillers he needed, I’d had to dig through deodorant, hairspray, a few stray make up items, my umbrella, my sunglasses, a notebook and a multitude of pens. Oh, and (of course) my purse, my phone, my keys and my earphones.
Why am I dragging all this about with me? Admittedly, it was a day I had been in classes, so the notebooks might not have been there otherwise, but everything else is a pretty much permanent fixture. I don’t need it, I never use it, and yet it comes nearly everywhere with me. Why? Because if I’m going to be carrying a bag, I might as well fill it up.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but men carry bags nearly nowhere. Using a bag to take your notebooks or laptop to school, university or work seems acceptable, but if a man is seen carrying a handbag, then he’s thoroughly mocked. This has bothered me for ages, but sitting with my friend that day I realized. The proverbial bolt from the blue struck me right behind the eyes, and I had a perfect moment of clarity – it’s because their clothes have pockets.
I decided to test my theory, and had my friend empty his pockets. We had a few items in common – wallet, keys, phone earphones, pens – but after that all he really had was loose change and odd ends of string. I tried to fit his stuff into my pockets, and I couldn’t even manage one item. Not. One.
Looking back on it, I’m lucky I was wearing jeans that day. If I had been wearing a skirt (as I often do) I wouldn’t have had any pockets to test my theory on. Which, I suppose, would be proof in itself.
When I mentioned I was writing this article, a friend pointed out that maybe my clothes had smaller pockets because I was physically smaller than my male friend. She said she’d rather have small pockets on her clothes, because bigger pockets would ruin the line. While that’s true of skinny jeans, why should it go for skirts, practically none of which have pockets? And why shouldn’t my pockets be at least proportional to those of my male friends, rather than these sham things into which I can barely fit the tips of my fingers.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that this is the biggest or the most important issue facing women today. This is, in fact, the easy issue. I’d rather whine about not having adequate pocket space than address the fact that women make around a third less than men on average, or the fact that rapists like Brock Turner are represented as sportsmen rather than criminals. It’s easier to talk about the shoddy quality of women’s clothes compared to men’s than address rape culture or the phenomenon of mansplaining.
Just look at the Trump/Clinton debate (yes, it’s official – you can’t go anywhere without hearing about Trump) and the way that the candidates presented themselves. Donald Trump did his usual shouting and pointing, whereas Hillary remained cool, calm and collected. While that made her (in my opinion) seem more like the grown-up, it was also because if she had acted the way Donald does then she would have been derided as shrill, irritating and un-presidential.
The point that I’m trying to make is that women miss out on a lot, just because we’re women. The Guardian recently reported that women earn around £300,000 less than men over the course of their working lives. Women are expected to be fully made-up, and yet appear natural, we are supposed to be driven but not bossy. Women are consistently talked over and dismissed, and we don’t even get pockets in our clothes!}