Well, this is embarrassing.
I am in my early late twenties (a numbering convention I am pretty sure I picked up from SATC, actually), which you will note is a significant number of years beyond the age of 18. And yet, a couple of weeks ago I still managed to drunkenly lose my phone in a taxi.
Thankfully it didn’t end up being as catastrophic as it could have been – I offered (and paid) the taxi driver $100 for its return and I was back to mobile Facebooking within a few days – but my bearded beloved did take the opportunity to mock me pretty much constantly from the moment it disappeared. Because, let’s be honest, this wasn’t the first time I’d drunkenly misplaced a phone. It wasn’t even the first time that month.*
I think we were waiting for the driver to meet us at the designated address when the bearded one exclaimed, yet again, that he couldn’t believe I had lost it. He went on to boast that he had never lost a phone, and then, fed up with his smug sanctimoniousness, or more accurately, not enjoying losing an argument, I called him a jerk.
“But how do you lose it?” he asked.
“Sexism,” I retorted.
“What… even… what?”
I explained that I had taken out my phone to call him that night and that afterwards I had (probably) put it in my pocket, which it fell out of. I hadn’t even tried to do something ridiculous, like try and squeeze a whole smartphone into the hip pocket of my skinny jeans, I’d simply tried to put it in my coat. Something, I’d note, my beloved (and many men like him) does every day.
“If I had REAL pockets, maybe my phone wouldn’t have fallen out so easily and MAYBE I wouldn’t have to nominate a safe address to meet a STRANGER and have to pay him $100.”
He looked at me. “You are the one who offered to pay him…” he said, unhelpfully (and, I think, intentionally missing the point).
“You have real pockets,” I went on. And he does. He can keep his wallet and keys and phone in his pants, no hands required. “But women’s clothes don’t have pockets. If we do, we have little shitty ones but really, we are expected to keep everything in our handbags.”
As he deliberately removed his mobile from his jeans pocket and flicked to his Game of Thrones e-book, I could tell I was losing my audience.
“The patriarchy lost my phone.”
The bearded one just rolled his eyes.
Ok, perhaps I was just a drunken idiot that night (likely) but we women really do put up with some ridiculous shit from the moment we roll out of bed and try to make ourselves “decent” for the world outside. Consider:
1. The pockets thing. Women’s clothing tends not to have them, or if they do exist, they tend to be of little use. I, for example, do not own a single pocket that will fit my huge women’s purse, and only one or two that will fit my phone. The rationale is that actually putting anything in these pockets would ruin the line of the garment, that is, block the viewer’s view of the feminine figure underneath it. Contrast this to dudes’ clothing which is almost literally covered in pockets. Pants, shorts, shirts, jackets. Fucking pockets everywhere. And not just decorative pockets – men’s pockets are substantial enough to hold bulky wallets and phones. It’s quite clear that men’s clothing is intended to help the man do things (hold keys that get him from A to B, hold a pen for a business meeting, etc.) , whereas women’s clothing is intended to make the woman look good.
2. The handbag thing. So if women can’t put their belongings in their clothes like the dudes do, where are we meant to put our stuff? Why, in an additional accessory called a handbag, of course! Not only does the fashion industry therefore squeeze a few more bucks out of us, but the things also encourage us to cart around more stuff than is good for our backs/shoulders (and WHY can’t we get more supportive straps? Or even ones that are just comfortable?) and are a handy target for thieves. Walking down the street becomes an additionally terrifying exercise once you realise that just one grab can see your whole life carried down the street in instant. And of course, if you are carrying a handbag, you have no excuse not to have your make up bag with you, lest people be forced to see your hideous, natural face.
3. High heels. These are really worth a post by themselves, let’s not even go there today!
4. WTF sizing and fits. Women’s fashion is, by and large, designed to look good on a very specific, very thin, subset of the female population. While these styles are usually available up to a size 14 , that in no way means that it looks good on people wearing those sizes. Being given the choice to either buy unflattering clothing or nothing at all, and standing around in change rooms under harsh fluorescent lights that make you wonder if the problem is you or the floral bike shorts you have squeezed into, is demoralising for the female consumer and cynically encourages her to spend more money. If she is not spending it on the disgusting 90s trash that her peers are wearing (and with whom she would like to fit it), she is sinking it into several bottles of wine (or pairs of shoes) to try and find her self-esteem again. And god help you if you are any larger than a 14, because most designers and high street chains have apparently deemed your money to be tainted by fat, or something, I don’t know, at any rate plus size clothing has only barely progressed past the vast mu-mu stage depicted in that Simpsons episode. Plus size women barely even get the opportunity to look unhappily at themselves in a change room mirror – it’s more Go Directly To Pub, Do Not Pass Fashionable Clothing, Do Not Spend $200 (even if you want to).
So what’s my point? Women’s fashion can be a fun way to express oneself. I love vintage dresses, particularly wrap dresses, and I have a wardrobe full of handbags, and wearing a great outfit can put a smile on my face for the greater part of day. But the industry can also be terribly constricting – there is nothing empowering about wandering into a store with money ready to spend, only to find that none of the overpriced stock fits properly, something that happens even if you are a “standard” size. Clothes should make you feel good, they should perform the functions you need (yes, that means pockets if I want them), and they shouldn’t hurt you or restrict your movement (shoulder pain, I am looking at you). I’m not convinced that women’s fashion does that… and my lost phone would argue that it doesn’t.
*(In my defence, I have been drinking less. My tolerance just isn’t what it used to be!)
RESULT: Fashion is undoubtedly sexist. Pockets, people.
Up next: A more realistic rom com