The popularity of the iPhone generated a barrage of digital comments, complaints, and articles about how the trendy phone didn’t fit in women’s pockets, from articles like the one in the Atlantic titled “The Gender Politics of Pockets” to a vlog called “Girl Pockets” by popular vlogger Hank Green. Why are women protesting about the inadequacy of their pockets, and how is this indicative of sexism and inequality? An examination of the gendered history of pockets answers this question, and is rooted in the literature of the Victorian era. I use thing theory to reveal how the pocket was both an agent and a symbol of economic change in this period. This dissertation considers the importance of the pocket, not only as an item of fashion, but also as an object that carried symbolic and representative meanings in Victorian society.
Much like women’s fashion in general, pockets in the Victorian period were used as disciplinary forces. The increase in technology and the rise in consumerism meant that women were leaving the house, and a female buying force became immensely important to the British economy. Part of the effort to counter this threat was to make women’s fashion debilitating and limiting. As the receptacle of money and object of convenience to a mobile shopper, the pocket was an important part of the effort to curtail feminine power, and this can be seen in Victorian literature. A fashionable woman was forced to use separate tie-pockets, which were exposed to theft or ransacking, and were also inconvenient. This meant that women’s pockets were more vulnerable, and in economic and psychological terms, women suffered for this. The comparison with men’s easily accessible and secure pockets worked to reassert the traditional hierarchy in the Victorian patriarchal system. Consequently a tension was created: the female shopper represented a much-needed potential economic force, but because of the threat to patriarchy that she represented, this force was constantly being constrained and controlled.
Through an examination of Victorian literature, art, and advertisements, we can see that women’s pockets, then as now, were unsatisfactory.
|Commitee:||Downing, David, Wisnicki, Adrian, Yang, Lingyan|
|School:||Indiana University of Pennsylvania|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Fashion, Womens studies, British and Irish literature|
|Keywords:||British, Economics, Fashion, Gender, Literature, Women characters|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be