Girl power just got a fashionable new ‘weapon’ to fight the escalation of ‘manspreading’. Yes, the Pussy Pouch – created by Rachel Feinberg, founder of label DAMNsel – is designed to raise awareness of the male tendency to splay out their legs on public transport. The idea came to the New Yorker on the subway, where she witnessed countless men adopting the Alpha pose, while women were all tightly tucked into their seats. Although not an accessory for the introvert, they’re proving popular with those out to make a fashion or feminist statement alike – including Beyoncé. That said, the 23-year-old fashion designer did have one setback when her Instagram account – @helloDAMNsel – was suspended after she posted a video of naked models wearing the pouch. Not one to be deterred, Feinberg explains why the vulva-inspired accessory is coming to a commuter coach near you. 

Why did you think that women put their purses between their legs on public transport?

I noticed women had this tendency to put their purses in their laps almost as if they were protecting themselves, even if the train is empty. I was talking to a friend about it and it became clear that we were protecting our vaginas. The purse is meant to create a discussion about this behaviour.

Isn’t it a bit provocative for some women to carry such a bag in the street?

I think it’s not for everyone, but if you look at fashion history, it’s not that out of the ordinary. Chanel became famous because she made her garments out of jersey, a fabric typically used for men’s underwear – that was very controversial. So I think what starts out as provocative doesn’t remain so. Although a friend of mine took the bag to a bar in Canada and strangely at 2am someone came over to her and started screaming at her telling her that it was a family establishment. The reactions have been really interesting and I’m kicking myself for not wearing a hidden camera through this entire process. 

Is the Pussy Pouch a feminist bag?

I don’t put a label on people who wear my products. I am a feminist, so I guess my work is feminist, but I’m trying not to identify as a feminist artist – I’m a fashion designer first and foremost.

What’s your favorite ‘vajazzle’ option: “outline”, “fill”, “orgasm” or “radial”?

I like the “orgasm”! ‘Vajazzling’ [the act of applying glitter and jewels to a woman's genitals for aesthetic purposes] is a real trend so it was kind of a combination of my interest and that trend. I’m not really into rhinestones and stuff like that – it’s very far from my aesthetic – but it seemed relevant to what I was doing. 

It’s said that sex sells. Was the idea a way to create a buzz around your name?

Not at all. I really want my work to speak for itself; I think the work should be forward-thinking – it started as a school project. My intention wasn’t to get press but to stir up the traditional idea of fashion – that a product could be beautifully made but could also create a discussion.

Do you plan on creating a male version of the pouch? 

I think men can wear the bag as well – it can represent that they also believe in gender equality. I already have a briefcase that becomes a backpack, I also have a toiletry bag – these bags are not gender specific.