An Instagram account called “Shit you should care about” highlighted a shocking fact. It must’ve escaped many of us, and rightly so. How much time do we really have to observe the side our buttons are on?
But if we consider the difference in buttons on men’s and women’s shirts, a starking contrast can be seen. While men get their buttons on the right, women get them on the left. This differentiation pertaining to designing shirts for the binaries baffled us.
Many fashion designing students seemed to agree with this fact and some even told us about how this was an ‘unsaid’ rule among the trainees.
So we looked deeper into the underlying factors that led to the division between things as minute as buttons based on gender.
Why The Difference?
Three crucial factors came to our notice—horses, babies, and Napoleon.
Now I understand the factors themselves must have confused you further. So to make it a bit more comprehensible, allow me to dive deep into it.
These souvenirs of gender discrimination and inequality have ingrained so deeply into our daily lives, that we simply fail to notice them. And even if we do, we pass them off as ‘normal’.
But isn’t ‘change’ the torchbearer of this ‘normal’? And who said that ‘normal’ equates to ‘acceptable’?
Challenging normal is valid. That being said, let’s now look at the factors mentioned above.
“A relic of the old tradition”, ‘button discrimination’ has been around almost as long as shirts have.
Men’s shirts have buttons on the right with flaps opening to the left. The major reason for this discrepancy seems to have come from the tradition for wealthy men to carry weapons inside their apparel.
With the majority being right-handed, “It was easier to use the left hand for unbuttoning”. But now, the question arises as to what was the need to put women’s buttons on the other side? Was it in fear of them carrying weapons as well? Or was there any other ‘partially valid’ reason?
Since times immemorial, women have been seen as baby-producing machines and family caretakers. Any other role has seemed blasphemous. Pertaining to the same reasoning, perhaps, buttons got their designated side.
Since women generally hold their babies with their left hands (considering the right-hand dominance in general), which keeps their right hands free for other tasks, their buttons were put on the left, with flaps opening to the right. That way, feeding the baby seemed convenient as well (according to the decision-makers of those times).
Horses And Women
With galloping eras and slightly better acceptance, women were ‘allowed’ to ride horses, and thus, the concept of resistance came to light as well.
It was thought that buttons on the left would act as barriers against the high winds, thereby preventing their shirts/dresses from flying open.
Just like spiteful men led wide-level witch-hunts to curb competition from women taking control of the beer manufacturing industry, it is speculated that this button differentiation might also have taken place in spite of the women’s movement.
The toxicity and spinelessness of patriarchy is no joke. Nor is their incompetence and intolerance towards others’ opinions. This is why they must’ve deliberately put buttons on the left for women, to show their dominance over women with things as simple as clothing.
They must’ve also done this to highlight the big differences (in class and worth according to them) between the genders veiled under such a small difference.
On a lighter note, women and their spirit could never be paralleled nor diminished. This was augmented by pictures that show women mocking the emperor with ‘a hand in waistcoat’ pose. This undoubtedly irked Napoleon.
Who went on to support, inclusive of other reasons, the partition of sides regarding buttons on shirts.
Sign Of Class
But out of all, the most acceptable reason seems to be women not dressing themselves up properly. Especially the affluent.
Buttons, not easily procured, held a certain value to them. In order to seem a bit more refined and maintain their class in the social hierarchy, women of wealthy households were ‘ordered’ to wear clothes with buttons.
Servants were appointed to aid these women in dressing up, and again, most were right-handed, which is why the buttons got assigned their side.
If you can think of any other possible reason for this discrepancy, let us know in the comment section below. We’re sure there must be plenty of factors influencing this gender inequality.
Image Source: Google Images
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