What’s in your pockets? Hold on to your tiny lint balls, this edition may empty them…if your clothing has any.
A couple of weeks ago I ran across an article on Austin Kleon’s website innocuously titled, “Artists Need Pockets” that changed my perspective on gender equity. The significant moment of illumination for me was when he quoted a tweet from designer Kelli Anderson:
Women's clothes w/ no pockets = A vestigial design decision to disempower (still around today.)
Implies that the wearer:
- isn't expected to build anything
- is invited to contribute her appearance, first and foremost
- should be controlled/surveilled
Kleon also points to Chelsea G. Summers’ article, “The Politics of Pockets: The history of pockets isn’t just sexist, it’s political” which provides a fascinating history of the pocketlessness of women’s garments since the sixteenth century. But, of course, the bicycle plays its part, along with guns, in the evolution of gender equity too. From Summers' article:
Advancing the notion of pockets as distinctly masculine, one 1895 designer of women’s bicycle "costumes" even included pockets for pistols. "Not all of them want to carry a revolver," says the anonymous tailor quoted by the New York Times, "but a large percentage do and make no ‘bones’ about saying so. Even when they do not tell me why they want the pocket, they often betray their purpose by asking to have it lined with duck or leather." You have to hand it to the pistol-packing women riding turn-of-the-century bicycles in their bloomers and split-skirt suits.
Then there’s the much discussed “white pant suit” worn by Hillary Clinton when she won the Democratic nomination. The New York Times published “Why Hillary Wore White” by Vanessa Friedman. While Friedman does not address is the lack of pockets in the anonymously-designed suit, it’s cool to learn the intentionality of the color white--not only as a nod to the suffragist movement but also to the white suit Geraldine Ferraro wore in 1984 when she was named the first woman vice-presidential candidate.
Of course, we can't ignore the story that Virginia Woolfe filled the pockets of her dress with stones and slipped quietly and eternally into the Ouse River.
But do you know Sarah Calhoun!? She’s the owner of Red Ant Pants, a small company in White Sulphur Springs, Montana that makes work pants for women--lot’s of pockets, double lined, badass work pants. See photo of Jennifer above.
Her contributions to the independence of women in business has even caught the attention of, ahem, former President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton (from her website):
In 2011 she was invited by President Obama to attend a White House forum on jobs and economic development after serving as a US Delegate to the APEC Women in Business Summit hosted by Secretary Hillary Clinton in San Francisco.
All because she makes pants for women. Pants with pockets.
Ok? Ok. Happy Solstice!