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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Life + Arts

Women shouldn’t be the only ones allowed to carry purses

I was recently in a situation where I had to hold a purse for a female friend. I found myself assessing the practicality of her purse, imagining what I could put in it if it belonged to me. It was made of braided brown leather, a somewhat masculine material, and embellished with a rather large tassel that I would have promptly snipped off if it had belonged to me.

I was tempted to empty out the contents of her purse onto the ground to see if what I was carrying with me would fit inside. The situation caused me to question why men do not generally carry purses in American culture.

Murses, or man purses, are generally maligned in popular culture as effeminate, but this could not be further from the truth. What is more masculine than the Scottish sporran that men wear with their kilts? Sporran actually translates to “purse,” not “man purse.” Kilts do not come with pockets, so Scottish men who wear them must, by necessity, wear a sporran.

They pull off their kilt and sporran wearing with an air of masculine nonchalance that possibly reveals that they are more comfortable with their masculinity than their sporran-abstaining counterparts.

Obviously sporrans are generally just worn on special occasions, but the fact that they are worn at all reveals that there is really nothing inherently un-masculine about a bag with a strap on it. Before the invention of the brief case or the backpack, how do you think men carried their possessions around? William Wallace wore a murse, and it’s possible that Jesus carried one as well. How else would he have carried around his carpenter tools?

I have been carrying murses for the past couple of years. I like to think that I am continuing the tradition of male purse-wearing that William Wallace and Jesus were a part of.

I started out with a rather large military-style messenger bag. After carrying my larger messenger bag for some time, I decided to downsize to a smaller messenger bag that teeters on the line that separates a messenger bag from a purse.

Murses tend to be smaller than messenger bags, but slightly larger than an average sized purse. Whether a bag is a messenger bag or a murse really just depends on how it is utilized.

I originally just carried this bag to school and to coffee shops, but towards the end of last semester I started carrying it to movies, the grocery store and to coffee shops when I wasn’t there to study. I now carry it whenever I am out. This means that my bag made the transition from a messenger bag to a murse.

I sometimes get weird looks from other people while I am carrying it, or get followed by vigilant employees in stores who think I am stealing things. But I couldn’t be happier with my murse, as it frees up my pockets and decreases the discomfort of having to sit on a wallet.

Before I started carrying a murse I would stuff everything into my pockets before I went anywhere. It looked like I had tumors growing out of my thighs.

I can now throw my cell phone, iPod, keys, wallet, Altoids and chapstick into my murse and forget about them until I need them. I now even have room to throw in an extra tube of chapstick, or even a bottle of something if I so choose.

What’s even better is that I am now able to sneak drinks or subway sandwiches into movies without having to awkwardly try to hide them under my shirt. I can answer my phone without accidently turning it off while removing it from my pocket, and I can put my hands in my pockets while waiting in line. These are all things that I could not do before my murse-wearing days.

So, the next time you see someone with a murse and are prepared to say something snarky about him, you should instead follow the example of William Wallace and Jesus and start wearing one instead.

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