Big phones, small pockets: women’s clothing reinforces oppressive tendencies

The same week Apple live-streamed details of their new 4.7 inch iPhone 6 and 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus for the modern folk to drool over, I innocently wore a new pair of jeans for the first time, and a surly cloud loomed throughout the day. Why? Pockets. Puny ones, with a depth only my child-sized pinky finger could fit.

If the rejected two-thirds of my iPhone 5c flops around as it is, how could all women who wear pants adapt to the constant enlargement of smartphones? It is another stark reminder of persisting gender inequality every time I struggle to fit a phone in my pants.

Shallow pockets tell women a few more things about how we should be viewed and that we should sacrifice function and comfort to meet these expectations. If it means having your phone or even bobby pins pop out when you sit down, so be it—at least your ass looks good. The amount of money manufacturers save on material probably doesn’t hurt their bottom line either.

Men, on the other hand, are able to fit wallets, phones, keys, change, calculators, pencils and occasionally water bottles in their pockets without a visible bulge. Men’s jackets are also equipped with handy pockets on the inside.

The pocket binary makes it obvious to women that manufacturers don’t want to extend the same options to both sides, furthering female dependency on handbags and other accessories the fashion industry convinces us we need.

The assumption already stands that women carry purses anyways and questions surround the relevance of pockets, which is a cycle of echoed arguments that rubber-stamps women as holding the same style preferences.

Clothing for women is typically designed to accentuate curves, whereas men’s wardrobes offer different functions. I constantly see women crossing the shopping aisle to escape the expectations enforced by multiple elements of daily life, but I hardly see men flocking to women’s apparel.

This specific revolving door of how society sees each gender sparks safety concerns as well. In a city with smartphone theft so rampant that Muni launched a campaign to encourage cautious commutes, I feel like an easy target no matter how I go about it. As someone who once got their phone stolen on the way home from campus, a secure front pocket is the only place I feel most comfortable storing it.

Tighter pants are also a dead giveaway of what’s in your pockets while handbags restrict movement and are also targets of theft. Women should, at the very least, have the option of pockets with more volume to comfortably accommodate basic daily necessities without needing a purse.

Oppressive systems reinforced by something as unsuspecting as trouser pockets must also progress with technology and other facets of modern life.