Audrey Glickman has been a lifelong champion of the underdog, working both professionally and as a volunteer on such issues as domestic violence, secure voting and equal rights.
Now, in her new book, “Pockets: The Problem with Society Is in Women’s Clothing,” she is taking up the cause of those who she jocularly refers to as the “unpocketed majority.”
But although the book — Glickman’s first — is light in tenor, clever in concept and outright hilarious at times, she most definitely sees the lack of pockets in women’s clothing as a serious matter.
She hopes to be starting a movement.
“I can’t believe people didn’t start it before,” said Glickman, a native Pittsburgher and member of Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha who currently works at Congregation Beth Shalom as the assistant to Rabbi Seth Adelson. “We need pockets. We have no way to carry things.”
Glickman has been complaining about the lack of pockets in women’s fashion for decades, she said, and finally began working on her book about four years ago. She finds it fundamentally unfair that fashion curiously dictates that women’s clothing has smaller, fewer and shallower pockets than the clothing created for men.
“Women need to carry things more than men do, but they build giant numerous pockets into men’s clothing and they build none into ours,” she said. “Women have to carry all kinds of personal supplies. We should have a place for those personal supplies. Why should we always be trotting to get our purse?”
“Pockets” is a fun read, made even better by Glickman’s own illustrations, depicting the dilemma in smart minimalist cartoon images. Although her bachelor’s degree is in theatrical production, Glickman also holds a diploma from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and is a skilled artist, having drawn and painted for most of her life.
Her book moves seamlessly beyond a rant toward creative solutions, such as bras with pockets, or pocketed peplums.
The dearth of pockets in women’s clothing, according to Glickman, could be a reflection of the historical power imbalance between the sexes.
“There are many sides to this,” she said. “And, in fact, men do have more power because they have pockets, and I prove that in the book, I think. Men also are the designers of many of the clothes, and they started the clothing designs for women and they put forth how they want women to look, and we seem to comply with that as well.
“I don’t have any trouble finding a guy with his pockets jingling with keys still a sexy guy, but apparently women have to have these skintight pencil skirts that have no pockets in them for no good reason,” she continued. “There is no reason why we don’t have fashionable pockets. Why do they sell women’s suits without pockets? If men are wearing suits with pockets, don’t women need the pockets as well?”
Although she does not directly attribute the 2016 presidential election results to the lack of pockets in women’s clothing, Glickman does acknowledge that it was problematic.
“How about Hillary Clinton in her pantsuits?” Glickman queried. “Where were the pockets? There were none. When she had a cold, what was she doing? Her Kleenex or her hankie seemed to come out of nowhere. It wasn’t like she could reach into a pocket and get them out.
“Men have these huge jackets, they are pulling out things from here, from there,” she continued. “If you try to run for office without pockets it’s a big pain in the butt. You’ve got shoulder bags all over you, you can’t carry stuff, and you can’t always just whip out your business card that says what you’re running for.”
But despite its predominately light tone, the book nevertheless concludes on a somber note.
Glickman was in the midst of revising “Pockets” for publication, and searching for an appropriate ending, just prior to the massacre at the Tree of Life building on Oct. 27. Glickman was in the synagogue that morning, and, along with some other congregants, ran to hide in a storage closet. Her lack of pockets that day was more than just an inconvenience.
Although she typically chooses to wear clothing with generous pockets, that day was her late brother’s birthday, and she was wearing a new pair of orange pants to synagogue because orange had been his favorite color. The pants only had pockets that were two inches deep, not deep enough to hold her cell phone, so her phone was in her purse, which she had left at her seat.
Fortunately, one of the other congregants with whom she was hiding had Glickman’s son’s phone number programmed into his phone so that she could text to let him know what was going on and that she was all right.
“In order to contact people you have this device, and that we can’t carry it on our persons because they don’t give us pockets is an additional injustice on top of all the horror that happened,” she said. “There were two of us women who had their purses left behind in the shul. We had to wait to get our stuff back from the FBI days later. And I didn’t know how to reach people who didn’t look at Facebook. The additional injustice — the men had their keys in their pockets so they could have the agents pick up their cars and take them home. My car sat in the lot at Tree because I didn’t have my keys on me. It does make it easier if you have all your personal effects upon your body.”
In the grand scheme of things, Glickman knows that the problem of not having her phone and her keys on her person that day ranks low, but, she said, it was an issue that could have been easily avoided.
“Pockets” is available at wordassociation.com and amazon.com. Glickman will speak on Oct. 24 at Riverside Landing at a program beginning at 5 p.m. pjc
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at