Why is there very little utility to women’s clothing? Why don’t we get pockets which actually open? Why do we have to put up with the ‘false pockets’ that are frequently sewn onto women’s jackets and pants to give visual interest without ruining the ‘line’ of the garment? Why, when pockets are actually present, are they so rarely large, stable, or loose enough to accommodate a phone or a wallet? And why, given this is the case, do women go on to cop so much flack for carrying handbags around with them?
Oh wait. Is this one of those double standards which we feminists are always going on about; one of those innocuous little things which everybody just accepts because it is the norm?
Women carry handbags. It is known.
But why? I have watched my male friends get ready to go out. They slip their wallet into one pocket, their keys into another, their phone into a third pocket, and some of them even still have spare pockets large enough to carry a novel for the journey. Those of my friends who wear women’s clothes, though, face an entirely different situation. If they are wearing the right jeans or jacket, they may have up to two usable pockets (not at all guaranteed). However, in most cases they won’t have any pockets at all. Utility and style rarely meet in women’s fashion, so they grab a bag.
Contrary to all the jokes, most women don’t ‘have’ to leave the house with everything they pack in their day-to-day handbag. Most of the items in a woman’s everyday handbag are in there because, if she’s going to have to carry it anyway, she might as well make it worth her while. Excuse us for making use of the one useful item we find in our wardrobes.
“Once upon a time there was a girl who lived on the outskirts of the forest. She was lively and bright, and she wore a red cloak, for that way if she ever went astray she could easily be found, since a red cloak would always stand out against the trees and brushes. As the years went by, and she became more woman than girl, she grew more and more beautiful. Many men wanted her for their bride, but she turned them all down. None was good enough for her, for she was cleverer than every man she met and they presented no challenge to her.
Her grandmother lived in a cottage in the forest, and the girl would visit her often, bringing her baskets of bread and meat and staying with her for a time. While her grandmother slept, the girl in red would wander among the trees, tasting the wild berries and strange fruits of the woods. One day, as she walked in a dark grove, a wolf came. It was wary of her and tried to pass without being seen, but the girl’s senses were too acute. She saw the wolf, and she looked into its eyes and fell in love with the strangeness of it. When it turned away, she followed it, traveling deeper into the forest than she had ever done before. The wolf tried to lose her in places where there were no trails to follow, no paths to be seen, but the girl was too quick for it, and mile after mile the chase continued. At last, the wolf grew weary of the pursuit, and it turned to face her. It bared its fangs and growled a warning. but she was not afraid.
“Lovely wolf,” she whispered. “You have nothing to fear from me.” She reached out her hand and placed it upon the wolf’s head. She ran her fingers through its fur and calmed it. And the wolf saw what beautiful eyes she had (all the better to see him with), and what gentle hands (all the better to stroke him with), and what soft, red lips (all the better to taste him with). The girl leaned forward, and she kissed the wolf. She cast off her red cloak and put her basket of flowers aside, and she lay with the animal. From their union came a creature that was more human than wolf. He was the first of the Loups, the one called Leroi, and more followed after him. Other women came, lured by the girl in the red cloak. She would wander the forest paths, enticing those who passed her way with promises of ripe, juicy berries and spring water so pure that it could make skin look young again. Sometimes she traveled to the edge of a town or village, and there she would wait until a girl walked by and she would draw her into the woods with false cries for help.
But some went with her willingly, for there are women who dream of lying with wolves.
None was ever seen again, for in time the Loups turned on those who had created them and they fed upon them in the moonlight.
“Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end. And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”—Audre Lorde (via blackheartedlove)