Ever wanted to know about my neighbourhood? Well, then I have just the thing for you. You can click here to head on over and read an expat interview/guest post I did for the lovely Edna. She’s an American girl who is currently living in Paris, but has managed to get herself the kind of lifestyle we all kind of wish we could have – working jobs she loves and is passionate about in amazing locations around the world (just in the last year or so, she has worked in not only Paris, but Singapore, Shanghai, and Australia too). I’d hate her if she wasn’t so darned nice!
Now, since I really have no witty way to segue into my post for the week, I’ll channel Jerry Seinfeld and ask, “So, what’s with the man purses?”
On any given day, I can walk down the street and be guaranteed that nearly half of the men I encounter will be carrying purses of some variety, whether their girlfriend’s or (shudder!) their own. There are specialized market stalls that sell man purses. There are multiple styles, for heaven’s sake (clutches, shoulder bags, fannypacks…)!
I’ve heard men of various Asian backgrounds lament the fact that they have troubles with the ladies and that women, especially Western women, don’t take them seriously. I’ve heard them talk about how they think women perceive them as being more feminine than men of other ethnic backgrounds.
Well, here’s just my own two cents on the subject: A good place to start would be the purses.
First of all, stop carrying your girlfriend’s handbag. I don’t mean cut back and only carry it when she’s really tired. I mean never ever carry it. It’s her bag and she needs to be responsible for it. If her bag is too heavy for her to carry, then that’s her problem that she needs to deal with by taking some of the junk out or lifting more weights at the gym. Don’t enable her by offering to carry it for her. If she has a lot of other things to carry, then offer to help carry those, but leave her to carry her own purse, dammit!
Let me introduce you to the term ‘whipped’. It’s used to refer to a man who will do anything his wife or girlfriend tells him to do, and it’s not positive at all – in fact I’d say it’s on the opposite side of the spectrum from ‘manly’. While there are lots of things you can do as a husband or boyfriend that are lovely gestures and are very helpful (chopping wood, hunting for meat for dinner, buying her jewellery), you need to draw the line somewhere. Carrying her purse should definitely fall on the “don’t do this” side of the line.
You’re wondering why I’m stressing this first point so much? Well, because it’s a slippery slope, folks. A guy thinks he’s being nice by offering to carry his girlfriend’s purse while they are out for a walk one day. Soon, he’s carrying it more often than she is. After that, he’s thinking to himself, “You know, this bag isn’t really that bad. Maybe I should get one of my own.” Then he’s out checking out the man purses at the local market and thinking that the colour selection just isn’t what he was looking for and he ends up buying and carrying a women’s purse as his own. Which I’ve seen.
Through foreign eyes, it’s pretty disturbing to see a man carrying around a women’s purse, but even more so when there is no woman accompanying him. It leads to all sorts of questions and speculations.
My husband and I saw a man ride past us on his bicycle one day, with a bright blue women’s handbag slung over his shoulder. I gaped, mouth open, and said, “That man is carrying a purse, but there is no wife around.” Without hesitation, my husband’s response was, “Maybe she’s IN the purse.”
Do you want to avoid being thought of as a murdering, dismembering maniac? Then stop carrying women’s bags.
Second, start laughing at your friends who are carrying bags. It doesn’t matter if it’s their wife’s (fake) Gucci or their own, make fun of it. Laugh and point. Say “Whu-chaaa” and act out a little air whip gesture. Ask if you can borrow some lipstick. Nothing alters behaviour better than peer pressure!
And finally guys, stop carrying bags of your own. What could you possibly have to carry around that you need a whole bag for?! We women, well, we have makeup and chapstick and hand cream and tissues and nail files and hair elastics that we need to carry around ‘just in case’. But men?
Now, I may be a little biased, because I grew up around rough and tumble cowboy folk; the sort of men who wouldn’t be caught dead carrying a purse. They stuffed their wallet in one back pocket and proudly sported worn circles of denim on the other from habitually carrying a little tin of chewing tobacco. Sure, they wore shiny belt buckles the size of dinner plates but there was no mistaking them for being feminine because of it.
Wait! But that was before everyone and their dog carried cell phones around, you plead.
Maybe. But I’m pretty sure that even today, those cowboys, and most other men in North America, have managed to find a spare pocket to contain their phone.
So yes, Asian men (or any man, for that matter), if you are carrying a bag around, I am assuming that in it you have, in addition to a wallet, keys, and a cell phone, makeup and chapstick and hand cream and tissues and nail files and hair elastics. And that stuff does indeed make you a bit feminine.
If you absolutely must insist on carrying a bag of your own, make it a proper messenger bag, a briefcase, or a sporty backpack, whatever suits your style. Just please stop with the man purses.
My husband, being into hip hop, carries a backpack when he feels the need to haul around anything more than his wallet, keys, and cell phone. Though, apparently there was a close call.
After watching a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory, in which an Indian character mentions his man purse, my husband commented, “All Asian men like those.” I went on to say how glad I was that he didn’t have one. He told me that his mother had tried to give him one once but he had politely declined.
However, he continued to reminisce and wax poetic on the details of it – the leather was so soft and it was really well-made, then he could carry his money and his phone together… I asked if it had a shoulder strap. “No, it had a wrist strap instead,” he replied dreamily.
Lord help me – maybe we’re not out of the woods yet.