I did it! I solved the mystery of why so many Chinese men hold their girlfriend’s or wife’s handbag (and no, the answer isn’t “because they are emasculated”).
Now, I wrote about Chinese men and their propensity for handbags and fannypacks of all kinds here– and no, this isn’t an invitation for more comments about how I’m a horrible person who is reinforcing ridiculous gender stereotypes and blah, blah, blah. I am entitled to my opinion, and that opinion happens to be that men do not need to carry a purse of any type.
Another thing I touched on in that piece was how often I see men here carrying their lady’s bag for them – which seemed unnecessary and ridiculous to me before now. But now I’ve figured out why they do it.
Let me remind you of my ongoing back issues – pain and discomfort dating back to about April. I’d even gone to the hospital to try to get a doctor’s help, and when that failed, I relented to wearing some stinky Chinese medicine patches that were supposed to help (the pain lessened, by the way, but never went away, and in the process I developed a very itchy red rash where the patches stuck, so I’m noting that experience in the “loss” column overall).
Finally, in late August, after another particularly painful couple of days, I contacted one of my bosses to see if she could take me to another doctor. I was in luck, because she knew of a “bone doctor” in our city who supposedly specialized in backs, and we made plans to visit.
For future reference, this “traditional Chinese bone doctor” turned out to be essentially a chiropractor, who felt around my back for about a minute and then informed my boss and I that not only was a bone from my spine out of place, but that my hips were out of alignment too. He twisted and cracked me, told me to return another couple of times and not to lift heavy things or twist, and sent us on our way.
I returned for all the visits, and saw a lot of improvement, but as September drew to a close, I decided to visit him again to have him check that everything was still aligned, because I still had some pain (though nothing like before). I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I was then when he told me that everything was out of place again. Sigh. Let’s get crackin’ again, doc. Another set of visits and a week of holidays later, still in pain and fed up, I decided to try a different tactic.
I made plans with my husband for him to take some time off work on Monday afternoon to visit this doctor with me (since my husband has seen all the hobbling and grimacing at home during this time, and my boss from school has not) and arranged to take this past week (Monday through Friday) off work to rest at home to try to allow everything to stay in place long enough to remember that that is the correct place. As I explained to my boss, somehow I think climbing up and down 6 flights of stairs and in and out of a 9 passenger van a few times a day was not really assisting my recovery.
As we waited our turn on Monday, I couldn’t help but notice how many of the women who hobbled into the doctor’s little clinic seeking treatments for back problems were wearing…wait for it…high heels! I even pointed it out to my husband, who just shook his head and shrugged his shoulders (I like to consider myself a fashionable person, but I gave up heels long ago in this sore back adventure).
The doctor cracked me again, and then sent me out to walk outside for a few minutes before coming back in, just to see whether everything would stay in place even that long. As I meandered out, my husband took my bag from me so that I wasn’t carrying anything in either hand to potentially weigh me down on one side.
Cue lightbulb moment:
The reason so many Chinese men carry their wife’s or girlfriend’s purse is actually to protect them from re-injuring their back, since these women are already apparently seeking treatment for back problems caused by always wearing high heeled shoes!