On Pockets

My latest column for the Kitchener Post is now available on the website. Have a look:

Women Need Pockets Too

As daughter-the-elder prepares to switch schools on her way to Grade 7, I was unexpectedly reminded of how weird fashion is.

I'm not talking about dresses or makeup -- neither of which my daughter is going gaga for, thank goodness. I'm talking about pockets.

And the roundabout way this came about is through Grand River Transit.

The new school is some distance away, and as we are trying to keep our resolution to drive less, daughter-the-elder plans to bike there. My parental freakout over bike safety on the streets of Kitchener will be reserved for another column.

On those days she can't bike, she'll take public transit.

I'm looking forward to that. Yes, I am a transit nut and, yes, my daughter is humouring me, but I remember how public transit suddenly gave me access to my city when I was growing up.

Most people remember their first cars with fondness because of the freedom they represented. For me, this feeling is evoked by public transit vehicles for a similar reason.

We've talked about getting daughter-the-elder a Grand River Transit EasyGO fare card that she can have on her person at all times, so she'll never be caught short without a fare.

And the thought of her carrying this card brought my mind around to pockets.

For some reason, despite all the progress women have struggled to make toward equality, pockets seem to be a male domain.

My pockets are my fortress. In it, I place my financial security, cheques I need to deposit, drivers' license, health identification, and Presto card.

If I lost these things, my life would get a lot more inconvenient, which is why I have deep pockets and why my wallet and cellphone are kept in the front pocket, even though people say you're supposed to keep your wallet in the back.

I figure it's easier to notice a pickpocket's hands if they're sneaking around near your crotch instead of somewhere behind you.

So, I'm confident about where my important wallet-sized items are, and can pick them up at a moment's notice. The wallet stays in my pants or near my pants when I change them. When I get up in the morning, I put on my pants, and the wallet is ready to go.

And then I look at the struggles my wife goes through getting her documents in order. Her wallet is in her purse, which on more than one occasion has been misplaced. Purses have been snatched, jostled about, knocked down and spilled out.

The pockets my wife and daughters wear are not designed to handle bulky items like wallets, and I have to think that's the fault of the designers, who assume that women don't need pockets, they'll use purses, because they've always used purses.

So, I think about getting a fare card for daughter-the-elder, and I wonder where she's going to put it. She hasn't yet got my paranoia about keeping my important cards close. Worse, fashion designers have not giving her places where she can store these cards safely and conveniently.

I'm back at the time when I wrote a column about how clothes designers designed ridiculous proportions into children's apparel based on whether they were catering to boys and girls. Girls don't have hips before they're ten, and yet daughter-the-elder could only find boys' clothes that fit her.

Fashion is fine and good for those who choose it, but the world needs more sensible shoes and, better yet, sensible pants. With pockets.

James Bow is a writer and a father of two in Kitchener, Ontario. You can follow him online at bowjamesbow.ca or on Twitter at @jamesbow.

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