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Feminspire | April 24, 2014

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Female Storage, Fake Girl Pockets and How Purses Keep Us Docile

Female Storage, Fake Girl Pockets and How Purses Keep Us Docile

Girls have it hard when it comes to storage. Some of the writers here at Feminspire have resorted to sticking their stuff with “the funbags,” but I’d like to call for an immediate re-prioritization of feminism. How can we possibly be taken seriously as humans when we aren’t even given ample space to carry wallets, or even a normal-sized cell phone?

You may think I’m joking (and in part, I am—women need to be taken seriously no matter what they’re wearing or carrying), but this is a legitimate issue. When I buy jeans, which make up the bulk of what generally covers the lower half of my anatomy, I either have to buy a pair that is manufactured for a person with no hips and a lot of height (aka a MAN), or I get stuck with zero pocket space. It will not do!

The most concerning trend are those “jeggings” that don’t even come with pockets at all—just those sewn-on fake pockets! What, because I make the choice to show off my figure, suddenly I have no belongings that need a place to reside? I mean, really. Clothing companies should know better.

I used to shop online a lot, but the cruel fake-pocket trick has me spooked and now I shop in-person only—at least for jeans. One store that has (partly) figured their stuff out is PacSun. While their pockets are still what I’ll refer to as “girl-sized,” they did streamline their jeans to where they all have pockets, and none of their jeans have those sewn-on fake-outs any longer. A total step in the right direction!

I think the desire to keep women’s pockets either small or non-existent has to do with keeping women objectified and—forgive my use of a made-up word here—unempowered. As long as we are bodies whose primary function is to look good above being functional, the patriarchy is winning. Who knew pockets carried such social weight?

Now let’s switch gears to another issue that is predominantly feminine—purses. I feel I’m a pretty BAMF-y feminist. If I don’t feel like putting on my makeup, I don’t. I wear what I want. I walk where I want, when I want, and expect others to deal with their carnal desires in an appropriate manner. However, carrying a purse is one thing I feel socially obligated to do.

There are so many things that I feel obligated to carry, from a female-sized wallet (don’t get me started—they’re bigger than man-wallets and it’s horrible!) to lip gloss, a mirror, tampons, my schedule book, my birth control, etc. I know I could get by without these things, and honestly, I would prefer to do so. But I feel like people (especially other females) expect me to carry a purse, and so I carry a purse.

But here’s the tricky thing: purses keep you docile. They keep you from being wild, uncontained, and free to pursue and peruse whatever catches your interest. Think about it: if you’re at an amusement park with a purse, there’s more to worry about: if the roller coaster goes upside-down, what if all my things fall out? Or if you go to a park, you either have to leave your purse in the grass, or carry it with you as you frolic on the swings—neither options appeals to me.

The space issue is one that could easily be cleared up if our jeans were made with larger pockets. Like, really. If I could stuff my keys, phone, and a wallet (really, I’ll find a small one, we can strike a deal here!) in my jeans, I would be so much happier.

How do you feel about the female storage issue? Vent with us in the comments!

Written by Becky Havens

  • Mothr Nght

    On the up side, dresses are now being made with pockets! :D

    • Muggle

      It’s kind of funny how ecstatic I get when I find a nearly-hidden pocket in a new dress :D

      • Lauren Jo Fry

        Yes I agreee. Dresses with pockets are exciting!

    • Tlaxcalli

      Yeah… it’s like we’ve exchanged pant pockets for dress pockets. As someone who’s worn a dress approximately two times in 7+ years, this is no consolation prize.

  • Jewels

    I also hate carrying a purse! I live in the midwest so I take advantage of coat weather and throw my wallet, phone, and chapstick in my coat pockets whenever I can. But in the summer, it’s much harder to even bring my phone with me without a purse. Purses get in the way all the time and make everything harder.

  • boop

    I hate purses. I carry a sachel. Most often it stores my laptop so that won’t fit in pockets. I have taken to using the back pocket of my jeans to store my phone. Now that I’m sitting here I’m thinking maybe I can reengineer the size of my jeans pocket. There is enough wiggle room there that I could fit a bigger pocket…. OMG now I’m going to try that! If I’m with my fiance I’ll quite frequently just chuck my phone in my pocket and go with that.

    • Tlaxcalli

      If I can’t find affordable pants with actual pockets, I might get an arm band or two to hold phone, wallet, and keys. I can’t sew.

  • Paula

    I never carry a purse and my mom hates that I don’t. I have a smartphone that I carry around in a pocket in my jeans, a document holder (sth like this where I keep my transportation card that I use to move around the city, my debit card and my ID -that one goes in my other pocket-, and I hook my keys to those straps that are supposed to hold your belt (no idea what they’re called… ).

  • Liane Graham

    I see purses as pretty much the best thing ever and I always have a big one. They’re super functional! I feel bad for dudes who can’t justify carrying a bag of any sort unless they’re travelling or carrying a laptop. Me, however, I’m always ready for anything — besides obvious things like keys, wallet and phone, I always have a water bottle, tissues, a book, a notebook, a pen, maybe some food or an extra sweater if it’s cold, some medications, whatever, and I LOVE it. If I buy something while I’m out, I can stash it in my bag for easy carrying. Pockets, no matter how roomy, could never contain all the stuff I like to take with me when I’m out for the day. As for running out to the grocery store? My keys, phone and wallet all fit into my jeans pockets (but to be fair, my wallet is a tiny man wallet). Sure, there’s a weird bulge if my pants are tight, but I don’t really care.

    • NRA

      I will say that is the upside. I’ve always hated purses, I feel so weighed down by them. But, at the same time, I’ve always been impressed with those women who seemed to have literally anything for any situation that might arise. Talk about being prepared, the boy scouts could use a lesson!

  • Linnsey

    I have migraine and allergy rescue meds I need to always have with me, but you’ve reminded me of why I always refused to carry a purse when I was younger and am wondering why I started.

    Can I get by with just leaving everything in my car’s glove compartments? Maybe a small pill case I can carry in my pocket? I’m going to try it out.

  • Alice Berning

    This is why I live in dresses w/ leggings (suprisingly comfortable and I can sit however I want/climb trees/etc) and I only buy dresses that have pockets or add pockets myself.

    • Tlaxcalli

      It’s crazy that a woman must now wear dresses if they want pockets.

  • Emma

    I carry a purse around because I always bring my ipod+bulky headphones and my kindle with me. Those things would not fit in a pocket no matter how big.

  • Denisse

    I totally hate purses. I am a fan of fashionable backpacks!

    • NRA

      I love me a saddle bag with a nice long strap!

  • heyhihello

    I tend to carry around a small leather satchel that can be worn as a backpack, and i also buy the smallest sized mens jeans and dress them up with a girly top because then you have the function plus lookin good

  • 1984

    I think you’re over thinking things in the case. Either that or I just can’t relate to your problem. I love jeans with no pockets because I have wide hips and the pockets pucker in the front. Besides I’ve never stuffed anything into my front pockets- it’s too uncomfortable. At any given moment all I need are my keys, an I.D. a debit card, a cellphone, paper and a pen. All these things -except keys and cellphone- fit into my back pockets just fine. Maybe you carry way too much stuff?

    • 1994

      Wish I could stick stuff in my back pockets but as a student, most of my days are spent sitting down and that’s too uncomfortable for me. :( Also, I only ever put my phone and iPod in my pockets. Hopefully that’s not too much stuff?

    • Tlaxcalli

      Uh…. all I need pockets for is wallet, phone, and keys. It’s nice if I can stick a few more things in there, but not necessary. where do you expect me to put these things? They fit into your back pockets? LOL, most women’s pants these days don’t even have back pockets – if they do, half the time they’re just an inch or two deep. Am I expected to sit on my debit card without a wallet to cushion it – and just let it slip out or snap in two? I prefer to put few things in my back pockets – at most, I’ll stick my bike lock key or a piece of paper in there, but otherwise back pockets are not preferable for me because I don’t like to sit on things, and I’m afraid they’re fall out more easily that way or get stolen. Most stolen wallets are taken from back pockets because that’s harder to notice and easier to pull out. I’ve never had any wallet stolen because I’m careful about that. It’s also easier to check if the items in the front pocket are still there. Since I bike a lot, I like to check frequently to make sure that nothing has fallen out of my pocket. That would be awkward if it were in the back pocket. Of course, I find that things simply don’t fall out of the front pocket often, but it’s good to be cautious. Also, due to biking, it’s almost inevitable I’ll be sitting down for a while anywhere I go. Do you expect everyone to conform to the way you prefer? I’m fine if there are some pants without pockets, but the majority should have REAL pockets. Also, no pockets is different from FAKE pockets, which is just misleading. I don’t believe those who claim it’s aesthetically pleasing – I mean, sure, but you KNOW the main reason is to trick people into buying pants with no pockets. Happened to me on several occasions. Most women prefer their pants with pockets – I’m pretty sure. I’m sorry to hear your pockets pucker in the front – personally, if I had wide hips, I think I’d just deal with it. I can’t image going around all the time with no front pockets. I’ll wear the ones with no back pockets, not that I prefer them. But if there aren’t front pockets, I basically consider them pocketless. Thinking of some of the pocketless pants I have, I’m not sure if they have back pockets or not. I think one pair has tiny one-inch back pockets and none in front. That’s essentially pocketless. Only thing I’d ever use those pockets for is a bike key, which is pretty much the same as nothing, and even that is only a maybe because the key would probably fall out of such a tiny pocket.

  • Alicia

    Wallet is a kind of jewellery for womens. It plays an inportant role to increase womens personalty.

  • guest

    One word : pickpockets.

  • Amber Hill

    And this is why I’m making a utility belt, I will always have a pocket, I will always have a place for my tablet and I will always have the right spot for my keys, because seriously women jeans are short on belt loops too.

  • femgineer

    if you were a true BAMFy feminist you wouldn’t do anything because of whatever made up obligations you feel like others are holding you to. Fuck purses if you don’t like em. I wear a backpack most of the time because bike around a lot and no one looks twice. And I take pride in the fact that I carry a man’s wallet. I’ve gotten called out by everyone who’s been around me when I pull it out to pay for something but the reaction is always one of, “oh, interesting,” not, “oh, EW.” It’s reaaaally not as big of deal as you’re making it out to be.

  • zombieprincess

    On the rare occasion that I don’t have to carry my purse somewhere with me I do feel very liberated. It’s almost like a guilty pleasure. However if I lose myself in my thoughts or zone out and snap back to reality I can sometimes have a moment of sheer panic wondering if I’ve left it someplace, then remember I didn’t bring it. It also happens if I let someone hold it. It’s a lovehate relationship. Also – The Female Genitalia as a Metaphorical ‘Purse’ and its Representations in Literature. Thanks internet.

  • Meli

    I think… wanting to show off your figure AND have pockets counteracts itself?

    I personally wouldn’t wear jeggings to go run around. I got MUCH better pants for that! :D

    • Tlaxcalli

      Pretty sure I can show off my figure AND have pockets. Yeah, pretty sure I do that all the time. However, I haven’t bought new pants in ages and the last ones have all fallen apart due to disgustingly flimsy material. The pants I wear most often have bunches of EXTRA pockets. Like cargo style. One of them is snug-fitting and sexy, in my opinion, though I consider them to be more like dance clothes. Anyway, not all women want to show off their figures. Most of the time, I don’t really care. And men show off their figures without sacrificing practicality. Whatever floats your boat, but I don’t think that impracticality should reign when it comes to available products for women. Let’s not even get into the absurdity of women’s shoes, which have fake buckles and most of which are terribly ugly and impractical in my opinion. Fashion is whatever, but I’ll never understand why other women find high heels sexy. I had a nightmare about them after my girlfriend told me about a photoshoot she did in high heels. I understand it for short women, who want to “move up in the world” so to speak, but otherwise… you know, it’s not like short men make up for their lack of height by wearing high heels. Although I did see one shortie wearing platform biker boots. That was an exception.

  • Kristin Gerhart

    I agree with this completely. I absolutely hate purses and cannot stand those fawn sewn on pockets. If a man bought a pair of pants with those, he would return them immediately no questions asked! Why should we have to be stuck with this dumb fashion trend? I’m all for cargo!

  • Inlustris

    Phone wallets! I love them! And I have a carabiner for my keys that can also clip onto my belt loop. I love this for when I go out to bars because I can dance relatively unencumbered and worried about a purse.

    Between the two, I live life wild and free. Lol. Not really, but I like keeping everything to a minimum. When I carry a purse, people feel that they can usurp that space and put things to store in it–without even asking. I’m not even a mom, its not children who do this, but my significant other and my male friends. Its become my duty to carry their additional stuff! I travel light, so I don’t become responsible for picking up after everyone around me.

  • Tlaxcalli

    I don’t ever carry a purse. Ick. I carry a tote bag, and that’s not an appropriate place to put my phone. It’s an inconvenient and often inappropriate place to put my wallet and keys, because I often need to leave my bag lying around somewhere such as at work or at a party. I have a few pairs of pants with no pockets, and I rarely wear them – I wouldn’t have bought them if I’d realized there were no pockets. I despise fake pockets. I think they’re stupid, and I’m glaring at all the women claiming that they’re just fine because they’re aesthetically pleasing. Please. There are plenty of pants just as well that have neither real nor fake pockets – it’s not like you’ll be judged for wearing pants that obviously have no pockets. But I’m judging you all right if you encourage the mass marketing of fake pockets for bogus reasons. An actual pocket – the pocket itself – leaves no bulge whatsoever. Don’t like to put stuff in your pockets? Then don’t. But I swear it’s getting harder and harder to find pants with real pockets, and most of them have fake pockets. That pisses me off. Cheapskate designers are just making up excuses to skimp on actual pockets. It’s disgusting. On top of that, I can’t find a pair of pants that doesn’t need to be hemmed after spending $20-$40 on it, and/or that isn’t infuriatingly flimsy. I am average U.S. height and size 6-10. Whoever’s designing these clothes, I’d like to kick them in the balls. What a waste of clothing. Even my pants that do have pockets, several of the pockets have broken through in a short time period, and some of them still have fake pockets. I have two very nice pairs of business pants that I can pretty much only wear with a blazer that has pockets, and that’s annoying enough as it is. I think one of them has a hole on it, too. I am on food stamps. I can’t afford to spend $500 a year on pants.

  • cathxrine

    I used to wear men’s jeans but I stopped dressing as butch in the past several years and it has been a hard transition to women’s non-functional clothing. Luckily I worked for a jean company and I made several custom selvage jeans with pockets I could fit my hands into. Since then, I’ve found that Rag & Bone has a decent sized pocket for women’s jeans.

  • Anny

    I think Men do have it a lot easier as they have bigger pockets to keep stuff in and you are less likely to lose or have your phone, money and keys stolen from your pocket in your jeans than a handbag, plus you can still get home if you leave your coat anywhere. The only problem is you end up feeling like a combat soldier every time you go out to the shop :D

  • T

    I really appreciate this article because my mother and I are in the middle of a fight right now and it is all because I don’t want to carry a purse. I personally just don’t feel comfortable or like myself with one but she feels like they are a necessity. I plan on sending her this article to help her understand that she has just been brainwashed to believe that she MUST have a purse. It’s just another social structure.

  • NRA

    AMEN!!! I have tried so many ways to work around the lack-of-pocket problem. I even tried to make brightly colored aprons fashionable in college (skirt + apron = instant pockets!). It didn’t catch on. Nowadays, I have one rather small purse that has a long enough strap that I can throw it on and go, but whenever I’m wearing an outfit with big enough pockets for my basics (wallet, keys, phone), then I go with the pockets. It’s infinitely freer. Carrying a purse absolutely weighs you down, and the fact that women’s function as decoration is more important within society than our apparently flawed nature of being humans and therefore having stuff does make the pocket situation quite political. Which is ridiculous, but there it is.

    So, that said, I’m launching my line of cargo skirts. Skirts, dresses, whatever you want, with at least 1 pocket and up to 30. Because right now finding a skirt or dress with pockets feels like winning the lottery.

  • Rachhhh

    I found this article ridiculous and unorganized. But really, if you “do what you want” just ditch the purse, carry a “man wallet” if you want to, keep your birth control, schedule and whatever else in your globe compartment? Why on EARTH do you feel obligated to carry a bag….

  • Jordan

    Wait…do women not chose to wear tight-fitting jeans that leave little room for storage? I’m pretty we live in a free economy where if consumers express a demand for something, businesses leap in to fill this demand. I highly doubt that Levi’s is choosing to oppress women at the cost of billions of potential dollars.

    Instead, perhaps the majority of women enjoy showing off their figure like tight-fitting clothes, like purses, or both. Baggy pants with plenty of pocket space do exist if you so desire, Becky.

    • Katter

      That argument assumes we can FIND women’s trousers with pockets, and that form-fitting clothing is the only clothing that lacks them. I have never once found a pair of women’s dress pants — even loose fitting ones with plenty of room for pockets — that had a decent pair of pockets on them. Similarly, women’s running shorts do not come with pockets; in order to be able to carry my locker key or a bit of cash I had to get men’s running shorts (and finding a pair that don’t restrict my movements due to a difference in proportions was a long, tedious process in which I did not take aesthetics into account; even if I could find men’s trousers that fit, they would not be flattering). I do not wear skinny jeans, leggings, or other tight trousers that would not allow room for pockets, but the boot-cut jeans I found with pockets just barely deep enough to hold a cell phone are a rare exception in a world of women’s jeans with pockets into which you can barely fit a tube of chapstick. It has been at least a decade since I found the one and only pair of women’s carpenter jeans I have ever seen in my life, and I can’t remember the last time I saw cargo pants for women on a rack in a store.

  • Reslie Cortes

    It’s not a made up word, although “disempowered” is more frequently used

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