Men. Purses. Orient.
February 6, 2011 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Macho Chinese men need purses. To hold their fat wads of cash, of course.
posted by binturong (51 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not enough pictures of Chinese men with purses...
posted by lakersfan1222 at 6:14 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


What would the Chairman say.
posted by clavdivs at 6:15 PM on February 6, 2011


MARK IT ZERO! before it starts
posted by growabrain at 6:26 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


What would the Chairman say.

Seeing that much cargo space, he would have written a larger red book.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:26 PM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's not a purse, it's European Chinese!

... Also Indian Jones wears one.
posted by dgaicun at 6:26 PM on February 6, 2011


Oh Chinese and their silly customs HURF DURF LOL
posted by blucevalo at 6:29 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's the dividing line between shoulder bag and manpurse and purse? Nevermind, carry on with the othering, amirite? Haha Chinese men, so feminine!
posted by zardoz at 6:35 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man-purses are like a load placed before us, challenging us to shoulder them. Some purses are light, some heavy. Some people prefer the light to the heavy; they pick the light and shove the heavy on to others. That is not a good attitude. Some comrades are different; they leave ease and comfort to others and take the heavy purses themselves; they are the first to bear hardships the last to enjoy comforts. They are good comrades. We should all learn from their communist spirit.
posted by benzenedream at 6:37 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I been seeing this for a while in NYC, for every guy with a Manhattan Portage messenger Bag there is a guy with a LV valise, or some sort of Gucci briefcase. Now there are smaller iPad or gizmo bags. I see guys carrying that same bag from the photo all the time. People are always asking if my briefcase is Marc Jacobs
posted by Ad hominem at 6:38 PM on February 6, 2011


Oh Chinese and their silly customs HURF DURF LOL

Yeah, right? As an American, I wish I was free to use a "purse" without socially normalized scorn. An I wish I could wear a zip-up hoody under a blue jean jacket, too, without other peoples baggage laid on me.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:39 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I once heard it said that American concerns about the Chinese usually have less to do with what's actually happening in China, and more to do with how Americans are feeling about themselves. So if the American economy isn't doing well, you'll suddenly see a lot more articles about the unstoppable Chinese economy. If test scores are slipping, the papers will run stories about millions of Chinese wunderkinds. Basically, that by looking at news stories about China's strengths, you can immediately tell what America is feeling weak about.

It's been a few years since I could talk about Chinese politics with anything approaching competence, so I can't really back this theory up. But I'm going to assume it's true, because it presents the slightly ridiculous question of what American insecurity a news story about Chinese men carrying purses exposes.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 6:40 PM on February 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I'm bummed about the Chinese guys purses full of cash because my skinny wallet is MORE than enough for my life savings to fit in!
posted by Redhush at 6:46 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Uppity Pigeon #2, you're right. I find it remarkable the number and tone of stories, here on the "likeably lefty" MetaFilter, that reveal the deep-seated unease of middle-class Americans over their declining place in the world. I wouldn't stoop to calling it racism, but it's pretty interesting to watch.
posted by wilful at 6:47 PM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's not a purse, its a bag!
posted by Splunge at 6:51 PM on February 6, 2011


Same shit in the 80s with the Japanese, every acquisition was met with handwringing. Of course the Chinese are making money hand over fist, they are pillaging the landscape and an entire generation of people to outcompete us on making socks. It's burning the house down to keep warm.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:53 PM on February 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


it presents the slightly ridiculous question of what American insecurity a news story about Chinese men carrying purses exposes.

I think it's a dual-faced insecurity. It both exposes the fear that Americans have about people who depart from culturally-approved gender norms when it comes to dress, AND plays on economic fears about this other group of people who are able to buy luxury items which most in the US cannot afford.

Kind of like the framing of this post. Macho? Orient? Purses? Hurf durf. Good grief.
posted by hippybear at 7:01 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I kind of wish man-bags would become fashionable, with all the electronic gizmos I'd like to carry but don't have the pockets for. In particular I'd love to be able to carry my digital camera with me in case something crops up I'd like to photograph.
posted by delmoi at 7:09 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I kind of wish man-bags would become fashionable, with all the electronic gizmos I'd like to carry but don't have the pockets for.

Yeah, it's strange how people seem to really react differently to a man carrying, say, a black leather book bag, or a messenger bag, and then carrying some other kind of bag which is more purse-ish looking.

Also interesting to note is the way men's bags (of any sort) are regarded with more suspicion than women's purses when it comes to security of varying sorts.

We have a long way to go before equality manifests itself in all the little ways.
posted by hippybear at 7:14 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't want "man-purses" to become the norm, because it threatens my way of life.*

* My way of life is only possible because I don't spend all my spare time looking for my man-purse and wondering which store it was I left it in--which is what would happen if I owned one.
posted by maxwelton at 7:18 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The framing. Sigh. As the guilty party, let me jump in here to admit to flippancy as usual. However, I had no intention of laughing at Chinese men or fashions. Au contraire, I was only wanting to share a silly LA Times article because (as some have already said) it is the existence and tone of the article that is interesting. That, and I wondered if these status symbols really were expensive designer accessories or... not. Being originally of British origin I would tend to call them handbags and not purses, which are small containers of money that can be put in a pocket.

The "gender-appropriate" aspect is funny. I remember the 80s when men and women both went in for those awful "fanny packs" -- especially almost universal at airports. I'm glad they went out of fashion.
posted by binturong at 7:26 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


We prefer the phrase "murse" in our house.
posted by bibliogrrl at 7:27 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh for fuck's sake, man up and wear a purse.
posted by regicide is good for you at 7:30 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another odd thing is the quote is from a guy rocking a Dunhill "clutch", Everything about that is pretty masculine except for the form factor. Not surprisingly Dunhill does not call them Clutches. I guess having nice stuff is feminine though. He should be carrying his shit around in his backpack from college.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:39 PM on February 6, 2011


This has less to do with the males in China...and more to do with the financially well-off trying to become fashionable according to western (european) standards.

Is this how you spell nouveau riche?
posted by hal_c_on at 7:43 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I say bring back the yīguànqián.
posted by Soliloquy at 7:48 PM on February 6, 2011


hey, nice timing! A co-worker of mine dabbles in leather work in his spare time and last month he made himself a really awesome man-purse. So many of the customers coming into our cafe complemented him on it that he's now taking orders and selling them for a few hundred $$ each.

I still throw out the occasional Murse joke but I don't really feel bad cause he's raking in the dough doing something he loves to do (and would probably be doing regardless).
posted by mannequito at 8:05 PM on February 6, 2011


I carry around my purse with me just about wherever I go. Never caused me any problems. Here's a pic of a similar one.
posted by clorox at 8:27 PM on February 6, 2011


I have one of theses.

It makes me feel like an adventurer!
posted by The Whelk at 8:47 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I stayed at my wife's house in Japan for a year or so before we got married, my father-in-law made a big deal out of going to the department store in town, and picking out a leather murse especially for me.

It would be best described as a handbag with a wrist strap, something a guy would put his wallet in, his smokes, a wallet, and a cellphone.

My father-in-law (born before the war; wore navy polyester slacks, rayon polo shirts and horn-rimmed glasses) was supremely pissed when I (in my mid-20s) declined to use this murse. I feel bad about it to this day.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:57 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is it really a "haha look at us Othering the Chinese?" I saw it more as "haha, look at these nouveau riche ass-hats."
posted by explosion at 9:08 PM on February 6, 2011


ha, KokuRyu, my wife (also Japanese) associates those men's hand purses--along with punch perms and aviator sunglasses--with the yakuza. Or wannabes, at least.
posted by zardoz at 9:08 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


i used to use a US army map case but recently switched to a wool shoulder bag i got from muji. I live in a city (Los Angeles doesn't count as a city) and take public transportation and often need to have space to store a hat, scarf, or light jacket for when i go from areas of differing temperatures during the day. also good for carrying cameras, phones or whatever.

men can carry shoulder bags and putting brand labeling on a shoulder bag doesn't make it a purse.

on preview: KokuRyu and zardoz are probably talking about second bags (セカンドバッグ), my favorite kansai area men's accessory. they are hand bags rather than shoulder bags. you don't see them all that often in Tokyo, but when you do it's usually some guy from Osaka on a business trip.
posted by mexican at 9:19 PM on February 6, 2011


I once heard it said that American concerns about the Chinese usually have less to do with what's actually happening in China, and more to do with how Americans are feeling about themselves...
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2


You over-estimate the engagement of Americans regarding China.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:26 PM on February 6, 2011


What's the big deal? We got one of these for my husband on a recent trip abroad. (Not a fancy one-- we spent about $40.00, US, I think.) It's useful, convenient, and not at all feminine.

We call it Randolf Manbag.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:40 PM on February 6, 2011


ha, KokuRyu, my wife (also Japanese) associates those men's hand purses--along with punch perms and aviator sunglasses--with the yakuza.
The first male demographic I noticed often in possession of a clutch purse, a little bit under shoe box size, no strap, were small-town officials, who share similar needs (and private booths at the karaoke) with the criminal classes - where to put that big fat bribe or latest protection payment?
There was a bit of an ironic revival of the old military-style 'Serve the People' satchel which you cold also see in the original and in earnest right down at the rural grassroots - searching for a picture I also spotted this trendy leather version for women so maybe they're still in with the yoof (I'm a fashion ignoramus as one look would tell you).
posted by Abiezer at 11:35 PM on February 6, 2011


Hey, mexican! I don't think the "second bag" is strictly a Kansai thing. I see them all the time up here in Iwate and in the greater Tohoku region. I've seen honest to God fanny packs laid out next to nice briefcases in the Saty. Guys wear them bandoleer style across the chest, with the bag down behind their elbow. I just thought it was a Japanese man thing and gave it little more thought other than "tee-hee fanny pack!"
posted by gc at 12:30 AM on February 7, 2011


What I (from the UK) would call "bum bags", and what Americans might call "fanny packs", are really popular with young men here in Germany at the moment. I think this might have come along with the fashion of tight jeans with no room for keys, wallet etc.

I'm waiting for the sporran to make a comeback myself.
posted by jonesor at 4:45 AM on February 7, 2011


I don't understand the hate for "fanny packs", other than maybe the name, and stupid implication the bag belongs on your back. They are perfect for amusement parks, especially if you remove your glasses for coasters.

But I carry a bag most of the time. The security thing is so true, and best illustrated when I go to a concert, and they insist I check my bag, while I watch women walking in without comment, carrying bags twice as large as mine. WTF?

I was just shopping for a new bag on Saturday, and found very little. I hate messenger bags, they don't do what I need. I carry a camera always, and usually a bottle of water. Probably a book and headphones. I like enough room to add a sweater when it seems advisable, and a bag for when I buy groceries.
posted by Goofyy at 5:07 AM on February 7, 2011


To hold their fat wads of cash, of course.

Silly, it's for the many, MANY cell phones that the modern, upwardly-mobile Chinese man carries.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:07 AM on February 7, 2011


You guys are way behind the curve
posted by IndigoJones at 6:14 AM on February 7, 2011


Hey! Officer! Someone took my Chinese carryall!
posted by Thoth at 6:35 AM on February 7, 2011


Jesus, half the men I work with1 carry a bag of some sort. If only they had the balls to just call it a purse.

When someone mocks my bag as a purse, I smile and say "Yep. Sure is."


1 Including me.
posted by grubi at 6:43 AM on February 7, 2011


Jesus, another fucking Times trend article?
posted by electroboy at 6:52 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, you can just carry a small messenger bag without waiting for them to become fashionable. Maybe YOU will make them fashionable.
posted by chunking express at 6:55 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it really a "haha look at us Othering the Chinese?" I saw it more as "haha, look at these nouveau riche ass-hats."

Or it's neither of the above.

Look at the Chinese, they're not too proud or close-minded to engage in a little gender-bending. Maybe us Westerners can learn a thing or two.
posted by tybeet at 7:19 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember when I was in elementary school, first grade abouts, the 'fashion' was to wear your backpack slung over only one shoulder, and only "geeks" utilized both backpack straps (read as: wearing it properly). I was a scrawny kid carrying a ton of books, so of course I wore both straps. I even had friends complain about how heavy their backpack was, switching off shoulder straps as we walked home. I would ask why they didn't wear both straps like I did.

"Because only dorks wear their backpacks like that, didn't you know?"

I was watching my friends sacrifice form and function for a trend that made no sense and actively hindered them. Now I'm watching people complain that they "wish" they could carry something that would fit their needs exactly, but don't, lest they be ostracized by strangers.

It didn't make sense to me then, and it doesn't make sense to me now.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:05 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I remember when I was in elementary school, first grade abouts, the 'fashion' was to wear your backpack slung over only one shoulder

Not to derail the thread completely, but I still sort of default to doing that-- even though my backpack now routinely contains a large laptop, one or more hefty science textbooks, and a several inch-thick stack of papers to grade. And of course, none of the young'uns carry their backpacks that way anymore-- so at several points during any given day, until I realize what I'm doing and put on the second strap, I will be both ungainly and dorky looking.

Occasionally I spot professors who are my age or older doing more-or-less the same thing, which kind of cracks me up.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:11 AM on February 7, 2011


It would be funny if those trendy high fashion bags turned out to be cheap american knock-offs. Personally, I like army surplus load bearing suspenders. Can't forget then in a store and damn hard to get swiped off your back. They just need to come in some better colors other than shades of olive drab
posted by Redhush at 3:20 PM on February 7, 2011


also, all chinese women simultaneously told them, "no, there's no more room in MY bag for YOUR stuff."
posted by mlo at 9:24 PM on February 7, 2011


Confession: I carry a larger bag than I need just to appear "manly." I'd actually like to carry a smaller, more fashionable bag. (Canvas has a greater "manly" factor than anything nice, I'm afraid.)
posted by SPrintF at 9:38 PM on February 7, 2011


Tchoh. The truly wealthy have a purser.
posted by chavenet at 10:41 AM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


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