It’s already the second week of school, so there’s a good chance that some big questions and hard facts have already been raised and put on the table for discussion in courses, such as international tensions, systemic societal prejudices and why we bother to differentiate between stalactites and stalagmites. Facing these problems, discussing them rationally with evidence and logic, and taking the next steps once you have a more complete understanding of these complex issues takes practice and an open mind. Even those with an experience in conflict resolution and diplomacy can struggle with this process, so I would like to walk us through an example as a start-of-the-school-year refresher.
To start us off, here is an alarming statistic that I just made up: Nearly 90 percent of the pockets on pants marketed toward women have suffered from malnourishment to the point of near-extinction. They’re one of the fastest-climbing groups on the endangered list, right after the black rhino and the use of cursive. Out of all my pairs of jeans, there isn’t a single pair that I can fit my entire hand into, and I have average-sized hands; I’m sure individuals with well-endowed hands suffer even worse. Some of my pants even have fake pockets.
In light of these serious facts, let me propose a conspiracy theory: the systematic extinction of pockets on pants marketed towards women is actually a ploy by Big Fashion to sell more purses.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? (This is where the openmindedness comes in.)
Less holding space needs to be made up for somehow, and if purchasing more is our only option, we’re going to do it. My needs are no different than those who wear pants from the men’s section; I need to have my phone, keys, various candies, various candles, umbrella, assortment of woodworking tools and wallet on my person at all times, which is impossible with the coin-purse sized pockets on my jeans. Instead, we are expected to invest in extra accessories to make up for the value-sized features provided to us.
In this discourse like any other socratic seminar, others may bring up counterpoints or new facets to the issue, and listening is key. For instance, some may say that this problem is actually indicative of what has been called the “Woman Tax” or the “Pink Tax,” which alludes to the price gouging that the products marketed towards women go through; a razor put in the men’s section might be much cheaper than the same one in pink in the women’s section. Some might say that the only reason we as a society put up with this so-called tax is to adhere to limiting gender norms. Another point to bring up in this discussion is that the small pockets might actually be to encourage a slimmer fit to pants, which plays into the objectification and sexualization that women’s bodies are subjected to in our culture.
However, I said my idea first and loudest, so all of these people that may say these other things are either wrong or don’t matter, and I win.
Thus, step one is complete: establishing the facts and some background for further context to this ongoing injustice. Now, what’s important to remember about the issues that we discuss in classes and face as a society is that debate and understanding is only one step. Proposing well-thought-out solutions and eventually implementing them is truly the end goal.
In this case, I have a variety of solutions, all set to go. For instance, we can all just stop wearing pants. If we boycott the companies that force small pockets upon us and perhaps mix in a letter-writing campaign, then they’ll have to give into our demands. Similarly, we could perhaps all buy pants from whatever section we want, gendered or not, but giving them our business regardless of their pocket size decisions would only encourage more tomfoolery. Another idea would be to get rid of phones, keys, wallets, etc., and move our society towards more of a commune model in which there is no currency or individual housing. We wouldn’t need pockets nearly as much then, but the drawback here is that it might take more than a week, and we don’t have that kind of time to spare. Instead, I propose what is easily the best option of the bunch, which is to take down Big Fashion with an agent on the inside. They would never see it coming.
At this point, one or many of these solutions would be championed by the masses, brought to the attention of the media and the world at large, and it would be fixed within days, thus ending this cycle of critical thinking and discourse. I’m certain that this exercise has been helpful and made the process a simple one to follow, and now it is well within our means to fix every problem the world is facing, now and in the future. You’re welcome.
In all seriousness though, pants manufacturers: please, I’m begging you, give me somewhere to put my phone and a place for me to stick my hands when I’m standing awkwardly. It’s really not that much to ask.
Sarah Leeson can be contacted at email@example.com.