A woman’s responsibility for everyone else’s spills
July 17, 2019 7:33 PM   Subscribe

"I still am struck at that assertion of power, the arrogant nonchalance of someone who travels to work with nothing on his person but his phone, his wallet, and his keys. Since the spill, I notice them all the time — in particular, on my way home one night, a tall, dark-haired Italian model–type man in a super-slim suit and long, narrow shoes who seemed not to have room on his person for an extra credit card, let alone a stack of paper towels cadged from the bathroom at work, just in case. He looked like he believed he was Important, and maybe he was. The message encoded in empty spaces where a briefcase or a backpack might have been was this: I have people to carry things for me. Golf caddies. Bell hops. Assistants. Women."
posted by Lycaste (95 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
3 things changed my life this hot summer: a phone case with card holder, Popfit leggings with pockets, & a lanyard for my keys. Sadly, that leaves me no place to carry any fucks, so I have to leave them at home.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 8:01 PM on July 17 [139 favorites]


Hmm. Anecdotally speaking, the messenger bag and the backpack are ubiquitous among the menfolk in my city, whereas the tall, dark, Italian model-type is super duper not. Perhaps the New York City subway is not representative.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:03 PM on July 17 [12 favorites]


Oh Hell yeah! We carry purses, bags, diaper bags, babies. That kind of thing has been true since hunter-gather times, but the unencumbered male had to carry at least a spear and his job was to defend the women and the children. In the modern societies, this is not how it works. The unencumbered male’s rôle has been outsourced to the military. Indeed being unencumbered and hands free, thanks to the magic of pockets and stuff you need being smaller is an expression of power.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:06 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I'll usually take a bag of some sort with me if I'm taking transit somewhere but the bag is empty before I go out and I put only what I think I might need in it - usually some entertainment like a book, magazine, and headphones. The only time I'm going to be packing napkins is if I've got a runny nose. So yes men take bags with them and keep stuff in their pockets but unless we're into EDC I'm betting that most of us aren't packing stuff to clean up other people's messes.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:14 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


I’m not sure I agree with the conclusion that men don’t carry stuff. Hasn’t there been umpteen articles about how men’s pockets are roomy enough to fit all manner of stuff in there? Especially Swiss Army knives and Leathermans that could do everything in the world if ever they were called upon? Isn’t this why we make fun of cargo shorts? And this is the first article I’ve seen where women being forced to move from pockets to purses was presented as fashion doing women a favor.

But it also made me realize, hey, I work in a complex with a large number of Indians, and every year we have a company Diwali celebration, and even on a normal day, it’s pretty common to see Indian coworkers wearing Indian clothing instead of Western clothing. Neither the men’s nor women’s clothing appear to have pockets.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:20 PM on July 17 [12 favorites]


the arrogant nonchalance of someone who travels to work with nothing on his person but his phone, his wallet, and his keys

This is me, though I carry lunch as well. But I'm not expecting anyone else to carry stuff for me, it's my problem if I should have had a bag.

I liked the essay and I can see what it describes all around me, especially with the people I know who have kids, where the burdens of carrying stuff and cleaning up messes are not apportioned equally.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:24 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


It is a pretty common sight around here to see a family out and about, where the woman is loaded down like a draft horse, pushing a stroller and carrying a diaper bag, while the man is puttering along empty-handed.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:29 PM on July 17 [36 favorites]


(And then someone holds the door for you because “that’s how you treat a lady” 🙄)
posted by Autumnheart at 8:30 PM on July 17 [19 favorites]


Sorry about the multiple posts, but it also made me realize that one of the reasons I don’t necessarily need to carry stuff in a large purse is because I tend to keep some necessities in my car. Kleenex, more lip balm, a book, the inevitable stash of napkins, a few charging cables, and because I live in a state with extreme winters, the ubiquitous car emergency kit with the jumping cables and Mylar blanket and heat packs.

That definitely harkens back to how people become dependent on car culture, since of course I couldn’t use my car as a purse if I primarily rode public transportation.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:38 PM on July 17 [12 favorites]


look my pockets are already full with a karambit a glock and ten metres of paracord and if you ask me why i need those things youll be banned from the forum
posted by um at 8:49 PM on July 17 [43 favorites]


I take public transportation daily and I feel like most people I see, male and female, are carrying a bag of some sort. I’m kinda blown away by the napkin thing—while I sometimes have a small tissue pack (usually in the winter), it has never occurred to me to just preemptively stuff a bunch of napkins in my bag.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:50 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


I sometimes wonder if a smaller corpus callosum = a diminished ability to foresee contingencies and plan for them. Every time I suggest that a dude might want to carry X in case of Y happening, he either says there's no way Y would happen, or it's so unlikely there's no need to worry about it, or (rarely) he agrees but acts all surprised that I would think ahead like that.

Multiple studies support the notion that women are not only better at assessing risk, they are also better at guiding their actions and decisions accordingly.
posted by amtho at 8:53 PM on July 17 [21 favorites]


I swear to god i don't wear a denim vest all the time JUST cuz it looks cool -- the many pockets allow me to carry most of the crap i need without having a bag. VESTS!!!! THE BESTS!!!!!
(also they look cool though)
posted by capnsue at 8:55 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


My toddler calls his mom’s bag “mom’s dad bag”, because his dad carries a bag every time he goes out, and that kind of bag with snacks and diapers and hankies and clips is called a “dad bag”. I get the message here; stuff is gendered, but let’s not get all carried away with men are like THIS and women are like THAT!!!?

We contain multitudes, and some of us actively seek to work and live against bullshit gender norms.

As problematic as they are, the Boy Scouts teach to “be prepared”, and plenty of men do just that.

Perhaps this is better read as a screed agains Ill-prepared men in overpriced suits: I’ll sign on for that.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:18 PM on July 17 [14 favorites]


"I’m kinda blown away by the napkin thing—while I sometimes have a small tissue pack (usually in the winter), it has never occurred to me to just preemptively stuff a bunch of napkins in my bag."

My husband drove my car the other day and helpfully threw away the stack of napkins I keep in the center console (as well as the emergency water bottle in the same place). I was absolutely furious, and he was totally mystified, since he thought it looked like a pile of garbage, but that is what I use to clean up my children and their spills and their bodily fluids, and this is why when one of them makes a mess in my car it's not a crisis, but when one of them makes a mess in his car by the time he gets home and can clean it up it's dried and stuck on and will never come off.

Similarly, I carry tiny optimized first aid kits in every purse I use regularly, and therefore am always ready for minor childhood injuries, whereas my husband freaks out and panics because he has no first aid supplies and always forgets that I am carrying some because it would never occur to him to carry first aid supplies just in case.

He actually carries gigantic bags when he commutes and when we travel, but they're generally stuffed full of every possible iteration of everything he might ever want to do for entertainment, and not with potentially useful items for emergencies or eventualities. Because carrying Band-Aids when taking three children to the playground is obviously ridiculous, but if he doesn't have three separate books plus his Kindle he might not have exactly what he wants to read and then he might die of boredom when forced to read a slightly suboptimal book for 40 minutes and obviously he cannot know in advance what mood will strike him so he must plan for all of them.

I tend to carry a small purse for a couple years and grab a tote bag when I need to carry more stuff, and then get annoyed by that and switch to a big purse which I carry for a couple years until my back starts to bother me, and then I go to a small purse again. I've been carrying a very small purse, barely large enough to fit my Kindle Paperwhite, for the past two and a half years, so I'm kind of shopping around for a bigger one right now for the luxury of being able to shove 8.5 x 11" pieces of paper into my purse without folding them twice. But even in my smallest purse (9x7x2), I always carry phone, wallet, keys, sunglasses, first aid kit, CPR kit, a toy, chapstick, sunblock, lotion, menstrual supplies, pens, tissues, and a sewing kit. And usually a granola bar.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:23 PM on July 17 [33 favorites]


I carry a little pouch in my purse, into which is stuffed many little useful things, and I'm stupidly fond/proud of it. I tell people it makes me more independent and means I don't have to impose on others, which isn't not true. But if I'm being honest, it's way more often I go in there to grab stuff for other people (more likely women than men in my case, partly just because I'm around more women in my day to day), and that a large part of why I lug the damn thing around is I like seeming useful and prepared. Like I would've been genuinely psyched to have tissues to help clean up the spilled coffee, and I would've given her my mini-trash bag for the wet tissue and my Tide pen if she got any on her.

And all of this is true and not even a thing I dislike about myself. But it's one of those things where yknow, it's fine, but I'm not rrreeaallly sure that deep down it's coming from the healthiest place, and I wonder sometimes how much of it was socially programmed into me in a way I'll never be able to perceive the edges of.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:42 PM on July 17 [15 favorites]


Who else just cleaned out their everyday bag? I try to keep it minimal, but it would require so much more planning and prep all the time to go without a bag, even if I always had pockets, which of course I don't.

OTOH, I love love love carrying an old-school handkerchief. So useful! (Also it's apparently puzzling to men to see a woman using a "man's" handkerchief, which is a tiny WTF bonus.)
posted by desuetude at 10:02 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


"If it is a human thing to do to put something you want, because it's
useful, edible, or beautiful, into a bag, or a basket, or a bit of rolled bark
or leaf, or a net woven of your own hair, or what have you, and then take
it home with you, home being another, larger kind of pouch or bag, a con-
tainer for people, and then later you take it out and eat it or share it or
store it up for winter in a solider container or put it in the medicine bundle
or the shrine or the museum, the holy place, the area that contains what
is sacred, and then next day you probably do much the same again—if to
do that is human, if that's what it takes, then I am a human being after all."

—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction [pdf]
posted by What is E. T. short for? at 10:45 PM on July 17 [35 favorites]


I have a bag big enough to hold many things, however:

1. I keep not putting stuff in the right compartment and it becomes rapidly impossible to find anything without 5+ minutes frantic rummaging
2. no matter how wide the shoulder strap, any weight at all rapidly causes me neck, shoulder, and back pain (i don't have this problem with backpacks but they are trivially easy to pickpocket so i feel constantly on-edge wearing one to transport money)

so I have a big bag with very few things in it.
posted by Cozybee at 10:48 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


the arrogant nonchalance of someone who travels to work with nothing on his person but his phone, his wallet, and his keys

Not so much a gender thing as a class thing. "I got enough money to not need to carry stuff. I can always buy stuff if I need it."
posted by MartinWisse at 10:52 PM on July 17 [15 favorites]


I enjoy Ursula Le Guin's take on what she calls "the carrier bag theory of fiction (I hope this link is legitimate, it was just the first one I found...).
"If it is a human thing to do to put something you want, because it's useful, edible, or beautiful, into a bag, or a basket, or a bit of rolled bark or leaf, or a net woven of your own hair, or what have you, and then take it home with you... and then next day you probably do much the same again-if to do that is human, if that's what it takes, then I am a human being after all. Fully, freely, gladly, for the first time."
posted by huimangm at 11:31 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


and, I wasn't the first to think of it! Sorry for double comment.
posted by huimangm at 11:33 PM on July 17


Sounds like someone doesn't subscribe to r/EDC
posted by Jairus at 12:10 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]


one time I was helping a friend shoot his student film. He ordered pizza, but something went wrong and it took too long, and I had to leave to catch the last bus home. His girlfriend gave me a leftover dish full of pasta. blessings upon her.

The next time I saw him, I had the leftover dish to return, but he .... could not take it. He had no bag to put it in. Only pockets. Eventually he got a plastic bag from a convenience store.

---

For myself, transitioning from female to male, purses are so weirdly problematic and always have been? Even when I was younger and presenting as female, I was rabidly allergic to the idea of a purse and other specifically feminine things. But I needed, specifically, to carry menstrual supplies with me. And of course everything else like chapstick*, aspirin, bandaids, napkins, a pocket knife, multitool, lighter, pen, notepad, comb, snack, gum, phone charger, battery, paperback - but I could have done without all that, and probably would have, for fashion's sake.

and right there, note, that's all really useful and occasionally necessary stuff and it's just a good fucking idea to be prepared with stuff to make life easier and more pleasant. And some of that stuff does not do well stuffed in a pocket, close to your sweaty skin, or it's just an annoying shape, like a phone charger. And people used to ask to borrow my charger, all the time, so it was clearly a useful thing that made people's lives better.

I still definitely would have made my life harder and more annoying because of my allergy to femininity, except for the fact that menstruation forced the issue. My cycle was too unpredictable to take the chance of being caught without pads. so i carried backpacks and messenger bags even when it really wasn't socially appropriate, and eventually I found more unisex bags that I could tolerate, and then, to my surprise, I got used to the luxury of having small necessities close to hand.

fast forward, I'm presenting as male and suddenly i'm not supposed to carry a purse. And, well, I no longer need menstrual supplies, I don't need to carry aspirin since I'm not getting unpredictable cramps. I've got pockets that can fit most of that stuff. Except I don't WANT to carry that stuff in my pants pockets. It actually bugs me to have that weight on my clothing. And i've gotten used to having a bag.

----

*I say chapstick but it's actually Palmer's cocoa butter sticks. they're larger and it looks like I'm sniffing glue whenever I use them. I think they are technically lip balm, but again, gender. no lip balm for me. it's chapstick.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 12:56 AM on July 18 [8 favorites]


I have a black knapsack thing lately, got it for $6 on vacation and never took it off. It's like, why would I keep keys and things that poke me in my pockets, and where do my headphones go when I'm not using them, and dressing in layers is nice, and the way it rains around here leaving the house without an umbrella is insane, and did you know that toilet paper makes a great napkin/kleenex/spill cleaner and also butt wipe, and it's big enough to carry my laptop, its charger, my phone charger, and a power strip if I have to (nice for airports and stuff), and it's good for re-supply stops at the grocery store, and I could go on. Oh and my camera bag fits in it. Damn right I got Carmex. I don't pack it full of everything every day, but I can. I'd say a "neighborhood walk" includes toilet paper, umbrella, phone charger, vape juice & charger, power bank, coffee thermos, camera & one extra lens, headphones. Not a lot, but more than pockets. Keys and wallet go in there too, 'cause I pay with my phone. Shopping, I throw a few reusable bags in. It's not heavy or bulky.

Women see it, and if we're walking anywhere, you know where purses inevitably end up? In there. And the close ones who live with me or frequently spend time with me, not kidding, every time, shrink their outside kit to the point that they leave even phones, keys, and cash at home. Current houseguest has taken to wearing house slippers outdoors because I rinse them off every week regardless.

For the last 6 months, men I've spent time with...want to borrow my stuff.

I might switch to skinny Italian suits.
posted by saysthis at 1:15 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Perhaps this is better read as a screed agains ill-prepared men in overpriced suits.

I always felt that that kind of behavior brought its own punishment.

Anecdotally speaking, the messenger bag and the backpack are ubiquitous among the menfolk in my city.

Mine too, and for all the folk. Can't remember the last time I saw a briefcase, though.
posted by panglos at 1:19 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Really?

"An evolutionary psychologist might have designed the coffee-spill experiment to prove once and for all that spill-cleaning is coded onto the X chromosome."

The writer even admits this to be a generalization and that their husband knows where his towel is.
But then continues on in the same vein. I'm happy for this to be "jerks in fancy suits are bad" but the gender politic in the article are very much not good.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:17 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]


I sometimes wonder if a smaller corpus callosum = a diminished ability to foresee contingencies and plan for them. Every time I suggest that a dude might want to carry X in case of Y happening, he either says there's no way Y would happen, or it's so unlikely there's no need to worry about it, or (rarely) he agrees but acts all surprised that I would think ahead like that.

Multiple studies support the notion that women are not only better at assessing risk, they are also better at guiding their actions and decisions accordingly.
Do you have any actual sources? The article you linked doesn’t cite anything.

There do not appear to be any differences in the size of the corpus callosum: Generally, claims of sex differences in human brains should be treated with deep skepticism: The Trouble with Sex Differences (Neuron, 2011)

These sorts of claims reinforce patriarchal gender roles. Please be careful with them.
posted by danielparks at 2:59 AM on July 18 [37 favorites]


I think the remark on evolutionary psychology was a jab at their way of making up theories that just so happen to support modern norms.

I used to carry tissues/napkins in my pants pockets, but have since stopped, as with no access to a dryer and lint catcher, the risk of them ending up in the laundry is too large. But when I traveled in NYC, I did used to carry them in my pants pocket. I'm surprised more men don't.
posted by Hactar at 3:48 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I used to be a flight attendant, and I once had a passenger tell me she was suspicious that a fellow passenger was a terrorist because he did not bring a bag of any kind on the plane. I tried to tell her this was actually fairly common for men (though not the majority, by any means, certainly I would see several men per day without any carry-on or personal item), but she clearly didn't really believe me. I told her I would keep an extra watch on him, and proceeded to occasionally notice him sleep the whole flight.

This only tangentially relates to the subject at hand, but people do make weird assumptions about the object carrying needs of others.
posted by the primroses were over at 4:37 AM on July 18 [10 favorites]


When I bike in I have a backpack and a whole bunch of potentially useful stuff.

If I'm taking metro to work during rush hour, I often just bring keys, wallet, and phone - a bag is pretty much a liability and it's not like I'm going to be able to read anything on a packed train. If someone spills something in this environment, it's gonna stay spilled.

Oh oh and I wear clothes that fit. Presumably the nonchalant arrogance manages to project itself.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:55 AM on July 18


I haven't read most of these comments, so if anyone posted an article with the same comment I apologize, but in my case the "fix everyone else's problems and messes" was definitely forced on me socially rather than any inherent biological reaction. This was anywhere from "you have to help classmates who are struggling" in school to "you have to clean the house" to "you have to fix your partners and friends who are miserable through their own accord." Because, yeah, I was super self-focused and fine and had no problem helping myself and of the mind that people can help themselves (I mean, except in situations where they obviously can't), only the intense guilt of "well you're a shitty person then and everyone hates you" or "you will be punished for not helping others" made me feel responsible. I wasn't allowed to just not care about everyone else's crises or choose which crises I wanted to help in based on my own judgment or genuine care.

I am fairly certain we know by now that this is common socialization for women.
posted by Young Kullervo at 5:09 AM on July 18 [8 favorites]


Some women refuse to carry bags, in order to block their husbands from using those bags as repositories for their crap (glasses cases, cell-phone chargers, lip balm, keys — usually preceded by the innocent query, Are you taking a purse, babe?)
Ding.
posted by Mchelly at 5:55 AM on July 18 [11 favorites]


Ok so I will amend my amazement at the napkins thing to admit that people who have children need a whole bunch of additional accessories. That makes sense.

But as for everybody else—I would never in a million years call myself a minimalist, but clearly I am here. Like, I have a house full of books, but I don’t keep any in my purse.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 6:06 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I wonder about the differences in car vs non-car life. I live in a city and get around on public transit and walking. That means I carry a backpack with all the stuff I may need in a day - pens, sunglasses, water bottle, umbrella, clif bar, notebook, laptop with chargers for phone and laptop, a paperback or magazine, and my pockets have my phone / wallet / headphones. It seems like for a lot of people, their cars act as a giant pocket where a ton of their stuff lives.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:29 AM on July 18 [21 favorites]


I was socialized female (and sometimes get read as such) and I take public transit; I carry a large full-of-everything-I'll-need-all-day messenger bag because I'm out of the house at least 10 hours. I am forever entertained when dudes are awkwardly juggling things in their hands because they don't/won't carry a bag. I saw two guys on the subway and each had a bottle of orange juice in one hand and a bottle of champagne in the other. Maybe it was a spur of the moment gotta make mimosas thing, but really? No bag?
posted by carrioncomfort at 6:37 AM on July 18


I once had a passenger tell me she was suspicious that a fellow passenger was a terrorist because he did not bring a bag of any kind on the plane

On a recent international flight I saw a guy with no carry-on, nothing, not even a book carried in the hand. He then proceeded to spend the entire flight doing nothing, not even sleeping or watching in flight movies. I did kind of wonder just what kind of demon he was
posted by dis_integration at 6:38 AM on July 18 [47 favorites]


I once had a passenger tell me she was suspicious that a fellow passenger was a terrorist because he did not bring a bag of any kind on the plane.

I'm very disconcerted by the people who sit down next to me on the train, in an aisle seat, and proceed to do absolutely nothing for the duration of the journey: not reading, not doing something on a phone/tablet/laptop, not studying or working or doing crochet or listening to a podcast or looking out of the window or sleeping, just staring at the back of the seat in front. I don't suspect them of being terrorists though, just people with remarkable internal resources.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:41 AM on July 18 [14 favorites]


My handbag is generally full of crap - old receipts, its seems to spawn pens in the depths, I once was standing in a queue rummaging around for my purse and I found a small mouldy orange - but I never remember tissues. We went to an event recently and there was a choir and they sang a song that made me cry. I was really close to the choir and trying to quietly ask my husband if he had a tissue as he usually does in his pockets, but he didn’t. I ended up fishing out a black fabric hairband from my bag and tried to subtly wipe my face with that. I think this story proves I’m shit at being a woman? Or good? I’m not sure. Maybe cos I’ve no kids I’m not practiced in the wiping. If my husband spilled something on himself in public I’d just laugh and call him a tube.
posted by billiebee at 6:42 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I feel like theatrical stage managers of either should be universally exempted from any article about "what do people carry in their bags" because we have to be prepared for all manner of stuff. However, this tends to make us impressively prepared for things during our commutes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


Pocket knife, wallet, keys, phone and handkerchief all fit inside my pockets and are my everyday gear. If I need more, I'll bring a bag.

The blade, pliers and screwdriver on my pocketknife and the handkerchief have come in handy innumerable times, more often for people who aren't me.
posted by dazed_one at 6:45 AM on July 18


I always felt that it was "anxiety" that made me carry so much. Truly I am happiest with an almost carry-on sized bag, and since time immemorial I've felt uncomfortable unless I have a book (now phone or if traveling far also kindle), kleenex, snacks, various OTC meds, now a battery pack and charger, in winter extra socks ... on and on and on. A notebook and pens 'just in case.'..... As if I have to prepare for any and every potential discomfort or need while out of the house.

I guess I never associated it with anything other than my own "weakness" (i.e. effects of stigma - a strong, more confident person wouldn't need to bring so much, instead I am anxious and weak and scared). Meanwhile I should have been patting myself on the back maybe for being so thoughtful of mine and others' needs....?

Now I have to think about how much of my "anxiety" is a rational response to the risks and responsibilities that life requires I assume. I don't think all of it, but I am interested in reframing my planning and preparation not negatively as band-aids for mental illness but instead neutrally as steps a rational person could take to meet their needs if they desired.
posted by ramble-on-prose at 6:48 AM on July 18 [6 favorites]


the arrogant nonchalance of someone who travels to work with nothing on his person but his phone, his wallet, and his keys

Not so much a gender thing as a class thing. "I got enough money to not need to carry stuff. I can always buy stuff if I need it."


There is truth to this; it is a lot easier to not carry things (or even not own those things at all) if you know you can just buy them on the spur of the moment if needed. Relatedly, spending the money to have duplicates (and affording the lifestyle to keep those duplicates accessible) works also -- if you have a charger at home, in the office, and in your car, you don't need to have one with you, for example.

But also there is the arrogance (or confidence, if you wanted to sound more positive) that a solution can usually be found without having to carry a lot of just-in-case stuff. I don't carry a phone charger because a) it is charged when I leave the house, and b) if I did need it, there is always one behind the counter at the coffee shop or for sale at the store. (Obviously, this works for some things but not others, and in some situations but not others.)

The kid stuff, like in Eyebrows' comment above about her carrying practical items vs the husband's personal entertainment bag, almost always seems to be super gendered in the couples I know and see around. A lot of the times, there is not even a pretense of sharing the load (figuratively or literally). From the outside it is a weird dynamic to watch, but hopefully it makes sense and is satisfying in the context of those people's relationships and they are happy.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:53 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I once was standing in a queue rummaging around for my purse and I found a small mouldy orange

Oh thank god I’m not alone in this. I lost a banana in my backpack. It slipped down beneath my textbooks and I only found it - blackened and flat - when I finally took all of my books out at once (I do not have the best sense of smell, obviously).
posted by Secret Sparrow at 6:54 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


There is truth to this; it is a lot easier to not carry things (or even not own those things at all) if you know you can just buy them on the spur of the moment if needed.

True, and, this made me also consider the role of access to a vehicle and flexibility in the workplace. While living in NYC, of course I relied on public transportation. I needed to carry on my person everything I might need for a 12-hour day of work and school, without the ability to simply keep stuff in my car. Now living in a rural community, I could keep a lot in my car and not carry as much. And of course, people have more and less flexibility during work to pop into say a desk drawer/locker and grab a cough drop from their bag, compared to either popping out to the car and getting it or getting into the car and driving to the pharmacy. All easy things for me, but not so much for many people.
posted by ramble-on-prose at 7:04 AM on July 18


As with so many things gender, it's a fraught topic (at least for me!) and difficult to generalize. I remember as a very tomboyish child getting a purse for my birthday around age 7 or 8 and feeling a weight of guilt because I had absolutely no desire to use it despite also wearing dresses and strappy sandals every Sunday to church and not fussing overly much about that weekly ritual. I held onto that purse for probably 2 decades before I let it go. I owned purses as an adult but they were just special occasion things until I left academia and the conveniently almost-always-present bookbag. But over the past 15 years or so I've become a routine purse carrier when I leave the house, and the more disciplined I am able to be about keeping the same set of, I guess, EDC in it the less of a frantic ADHD mess I am when it's time to go somewhere. I don't carry napkins because I rarely grab fast food or coffee on the go, and I don't carry tissues because...I don't cry I guess?
On the one hand, you can look at it as becoming the pack mule, always having the crap on hand that someone else needs. On the other hand, you can look at it as a sign of independence...you don't need to turn to anyone else to meet your crap needs. It's kind of like money that way--I'm really happy to be financially independent and able to support myself and my kid(s), but saying "I don't need your money" to a deadbeat ex is a double-edged sword. It woulda been nice.
At any rate, my daughter is turning into one of those post-millennial non-purse-carrying minimalists. She has a backpack for when she's in school, but if she's just out and about she only carries a phone with her keycard, ID, and a bank card tucked into the case. I don't think it's going to be long before it will be possible to forgo those physical cards even.
posted by drlith at 7:11 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Thissss dressss hasssss POCKETSSSSSS!!!!!!
posted by lextex at 7:17 AM on July 18 [19 favorites]


Most of the year, I have a sweater with pockets and my stuff is in it. This time of year, when it is hot and my clothes are smaller, I sometimes transfer that stuff to a handbag. Which I then constantly lose track of. If I'm going out somewhere that will be air conditioned I just transfer the stuff back to my sweater and carry the sweater. I'll need it to wear in the office anyways since public buildings are often more like refrigerators.
posted by elizilla at 7:18 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I have generally found that women who forgo purses often also end up outsourcing to/relying on the women with purses. One time, a friend made a beeline for me across the dining hall to ask, "brook horse, do you have any pads?" And I did not, because I had gone on continuous birth control about half a year ago, and had since given away the rest of the pads that were in my purse. I have since made a conscious choice to keep a few pads in my bag, even though I don't use them.

I've been the woman with everything in her bag since college, and I became that way because I spent a lot of time around other chronically ill and neurodivergent people, primarily women and nonbinary people. Lots of people with ADHD, autism, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, etc. 98% of the stuff I have in my purse is to reduce pain/nausea/fatigue or assuage sensory issues. In my small purse, I always carry: Tylenol, tissues, a heat pack, chapstick, lotion, hairpins, nail clippers, a granola bar, sunglasses, my disabled parking placard, and my medication. This small bag goes in a larger bag, which also always contains: Ibuprofen, Midol, Benadryl, decongestant, breath mints, earplugs, deodorant, band-aids, floss, a nail file, eye drops, and pads. The only non-comfort things I carry are pens and sticky notes, headphones, a battery pack and charger, and whatever entertainment I decide to carry for the day (Switch, a book, knitting). Making people comfortable is an accessibility issue for me, because that headache, loud noise, chapped lips, etc. can be a lot worse for neurodivergent people, or people who were already just at their pain/nausea/fatigue threshold, and it can be the difference between them needing to go home and them getting to stay out and socialize.

So I really have never minded being, as my friends have dubbed me, the "momfriend," and I still don't, despite reading articles and comments like these. I am sure I was socialized this way because I am a woman, but I like helping people out. People will often suffer in silence, but I'm pretty good at picking up on "I'm uncomfortable" signals, and will frequently ask what's wrong--I usually get a downplayed "just a bit of a headache/my lips are just a little dry/it's just a little loud in here" and then I immediately hand them the solution to their problem. Life sucks enough, why be any more uncomfortable than you have to be? I definitely get people not liking to have that role forced on them, and if I had less grateful people in my life maybe I would too, but I did go into a helping profession for a reason.
posted by brook horse at 7:20 AM on July 18 [13 favorites]


I once was standing in a queue rummaging around for my purse and I found a small mouldy orange

This happens to me all the time. I mean, specifically, small moldy oranges. I have a bad habit of throwing clementines in my purse for a snack later that day, not eating about it, it gets buried, and I forget about it for weeks. It's... it's not great.
posted by brook horse at 7:22 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]


I was at a roleplaying game convention and played in a game set in the modern day. Another woman and I at the table convinced the (male) game master that our characters should be able to have any item we could produce from one of our real-life purses. The next four hours was filled with "Why do you even have that?"
posted by Karmakaze at 7:38 AM on July 18 [62 favorites]


I’m not sure I agree with the conclusion that men don’t carry stuff. Hasn’t there been umpteen articles about how men’s pockets are roomy enough to fit all manner of stuff in there? Especially Swiss Army knives and Leathermans that could do everything in the world if ever they were called upon? Isn’t this why we make fun of cargo shorts?

It's called the Schrodinger's Man, who simultaneously carries too much and not enough until a deterministic complaint is made, collapsing the quantum baggage measurement into the amount appropriate for said complaint.
posted by FakeFreyja at 8:02 AM on July 18 [11 favorites]


I definitely feel like there’s an element of class in this. I work in banking and almost every dude in my office strolls in every morning in a suit with their hands empty. They don’t need to carry a lunch because they all make enough money that they can buy lunch in downtown Seattle every day without thinking about it. They don’t need snacks or coffee from home because they can go across the street to Starbucks multiple times a day without batting an eye. And they all drive in and pay to park every day so they can leave stuff in their car. Most of the lower level employees are women and we come in on the bus and train, laden down with lunches and coffee from home, and less practical “work appropriate” shoes, and the umbrellas we need while we wait for our bus in the rain.
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:04 AM on July 18 [28 favorites]


I'm a bus traveller in a city with weather that goes all over the map, so I'm always going to be carrying a bag with my umbrella, cold-weather gear, meds, a book, etc. unless I'm out with my car-driving partner for some very specific purpose for which I've decided I can do without being prepared for every eventuality. But it sure is freeing sometimes when those occasions do arise, and I realize I can just stroll out the door with my wallet, phone, and keys in my pocket, and nothing else.

I passed an entertaining twenty minutes at a wedding once with my sisters-in-law, dumping out our purses on the table to see how much "just in case" stuff we had each shoved into our (small! fancy! packed just for that wedding!) purses for just that evening. We decided that between us, we were pretty well set to survive at least the initial stage of the zombie apocalypse if it happened to break out during that wedding. Our partners had nothing but their wallets and phones. And their bow ties, I suppose, maybe they could have choked a zombie with a bow tie.
posted by Stacey at 8:11 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


I think there's a whole bundle of different privileges here
  • Not thinking it's a man's job to do cleaning
  • Not thinking it's a man's job to look after children
  • The machismo of "travelling light": e.g. Jack Reacher travels across the country with only cash, a toothbrush and an expired passport. (When his clothes get dirty he buys new, when he needs a gun he takes one from the baddies.)
  • Being risk-tolerant instead of risk-averse
  • Not being judged on appearance so not needing makeup, comb, fresh clothing
These are all related, but it's not like a particular one is the root cause.

Even the biological needs are impacted by social factors. If men had periods, there might not be a stigma around the products and not such a great need to always have them handy. "Gimme a pad buddy, I got blood trickling down my ankles here".
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:15 AM on July 18 [12 favorites]


How am I failing at being a woman today? *spins wheel*

*wheel flashes through cooking, handwritten thank you notes, lands on doesn't carry napkins*

Doesn't carry napkins? Okay, fair enough, I do usually wander about with just my keys and phone. Does this mean that I've had to stop by Walgreens to buy tampons and then carry around a box of tampons all day? Yes, but I feel that one day of minor inconvenience is worth 364 days of freedom.
posted by betweenthebars at 8:21 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]


heheheheh when we started dating my partner would always boggle at my shockingly heavy large purse. (Usually just a tote bag, as I'm too lazy to take care of a proper purse.) But my partner likes to Be Prepared more than anything, so after a couple years of observing me he acquired four bags of various sizes which are now in constant rotation.

For my part I am getting slowly better at leaving the house with only my keys and phone, but that involves a whole long process of learning to wear less, but more resilient, makeup and to wear my hair in ways that are weather-and-wind-resistant. And often that's more trouble than just throwing a little makeup pouch into a tote bag.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:29 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


"At any rate, my daughter is turning into one of those post-millennial non-purse-carrying minimalists. She has a backpack for when she's in school, but if she's just out and about she only carries a phone with her keycard, ID, and a bank card tucked into the case. "

I did this for YEARS, in and after college and grad school. A combination of phones getting too big for my pockets and having children pushed me in to the realm of purse-havers. But now I kind-of like having a bunch of useful stuff immediately to hand in my purse.

And I do honestly love the moments when another woman needs something and I've got a tampon or a bandaid or a hairband or a tylenol to offer. (It's not quite so affirming when you help out a man, I don't know why.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:32 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Not sure this is a gender thing.

I'm a woman and carry very little -- my phone with its credit card case either in my pocket or in a tiny bag if I don't have pockets (I hate women's pocketless clothes!). The tiny bag also includes one tampon and a small kleenex pack.

My wife carries a bag that weighs 10 lb and contains everything anyone might possibly need. Although I will use something if we are together and she offers it, I never really miss any of it when I'm alone.

Her bag makes her feel happy and secure (but would cause me hideous shoulder pain). My tiny bag/no bag makes me feel content and free.
posted by mkuhnell at 8:55 AM on July 18


My husband recently discovered that he is lactose intolerant and has to have lactase tablets with him, and I swear to god, the need to carry an expendable resource every day nearly broke him. Every meal and snack outside the house triggered another episode of the Unending Lactase Tablet Drama. He thought he had them in his pocket, but no, he has to run out to the car. Wait, there aren't any in the car, did I move them? (Why on earth would I have moved them?) Oh, no, he has forgotten the tablets, and now he has to have a hamburger instead of a cheeseburger, and everybody must hear about it. He has finally adjusted to the fact that he needs to put a few in his pocket every morning, but, for a while there, it was a THING.

If he had had to keep track of tampons since puberty, I suspect that it would not have been an issue.
posted by BrashTech at 9:25 AM on July 18 [19 favorites]


Go-bags are a thing. And the well prepared person has one at the ready at all times.
posted by mfoight at 9:26 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Or, in the Balkans, this summer nearly all the men are wearing cross-body square pouches (which I guess is the evolution of the bumbag) that are bigger than the women's handbags.
posted by tectressa at 9:31 AM on July 18


That carrying a purse often indicates lower class and less power probably explains why there are so many articles written about why Queen Elizabeth II always carries a purse.

While practical necessities like extra gloves and sewing essentials are carried by others, the queen does carry her own "crisply ironed £5 or £10 note".
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 9:46 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Because when your face is on money, there's no need to carry ID.
posted by Mchelly at 9:56 AM on July 18 [8 favorites]


Now I’m wondering about how changes in workplace set up might affect this? A lot of the things people here describe carrying with them are things I just leave in my office—but having an office with a bunch of storage space is maybe more of a privilege these days?

So for example I used to carry my water bottle home every day and then I realized that I could just leave it at work—I have extra water bottles at home (mostly accumulated as swag from various events) in case I need one on the weekend or something. Similarly, I have a sweater that just lives in my office, along with socks, snack bars, tums, lotion, etc. I even have napkins in my desk drawer! I try very hard not to bring my laptop and other work-related things home with me unless I’m going to need them for a meeting not in my building first thing the next morning.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:08 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


DiscourseMarker, most of my clients and vendors in my industry and many of my friends who work in offices, are now relegated to so-called hot desking. Even among those who work 9-5 in the same office with the same folks every day, they are not permitted to have their own permanent desk or storage, nor allowed to keep personal items. Honestly to me it seems like a game of "how miserable can we make our employees?" for reasons I cannot fathom, but yeah that does seem to be something more and more people are dealing with.
posted by ramble-on-prose at 10:15 AM on July 18 [8 favorites]


My eternal grar is that needing sunglasses and sunscreen to go pretty much anywhere outdoors in the summer pretty immediately bumps me up to needing a medium-size bag. Do people just... not use those? What are you doing?
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:29 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I carry next to nothing, and I live in a city and walk to work and everywhere. I usually have a wallet, keys and phone. On workdays I bring my lunch and if it might rain an umbrella. During cold season I put a handkerchief in my pocket. I decided years ago that I would rather take a chance on the rare occasion of being mildly inconvenienced or uncomfortable than schlep around piles of just-in-case crap.

I don’t bother bringing stuff for the kids anymore either. When the kids were of diaper age I carried around the usual stuff, but as soon as they were beyond that I would just put a couple granola bars in a pocket to avert hunger meltdowns and go. When they grew out of that, I stopped hauling anything around for them, and I bring them everywhere with me. Errands, groceries, whatever — and I bring them on far more errands than my wife does.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:33 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I don’t rely on my wife having a bottomless bag of holding either. She has a tiny purse for her wallet, phone, keys and a couple other things. So I guess we are both minimalists.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:40 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Honestly to me [hot desking] seems like a game of "how miserable can we make our employees?" for reasons I cannot fathom, but yeah that does seem to be something more and more people are dealing with.

It's much more likely a game of, "we know that on any given day a randomly determined 20% of our employees are working from home or on a business trip or on PTO, so how can we stop devoting space (and thus money) to desks that sit empty?" -- which is not to say I necessarily agree with the practice, but that is the underlying justification in cases I've been aware of.
posted by tocts at 10:47 AM on July 18


I live in a mountainous area where a lot of what people do for fun is hiking and outdoor stuff, and even after several years I haven't quite nailed the outdoor purse. Not a backpack for overnights, not an over-the-shoulder tote for workdays. But something lightweight that will hold my water bottle PLUS my husband's water bottle (after I have to pester him to fill his own, lest he drink all of my water when he is inevitably very thirsty at some point during the hike), PLUS all the usual things that keep me feeling comfortable and safe like band-aids, hair ties, my little traveling medicine cabinet, menstrual supplies, my phone/husband's phone, etc. etc. It's such a Thing. It's tiring.
posted by witchen at 10:49 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I've been thinking about my child's TV shows.

In "Andy's Dinosaur Adventures" there's always a scene where Andy has a problem, says "Hattie's backpack! There's always something useful in there!" and extracts something to solve it.

In "Peter Rabbit", Lily has a "just-in-case pocket" which she always reaches into to find something useful.

So maybe it is a thing in normative gender relations now that women are supposed to maintain an inventory of useful items for men.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:19 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


So this whole discussion is kinda ruining my secret. As a dad, you can pretty much get instant points from onlookers as soon as your kids (or the kids they're on a playdate with) make a mess and you instantly whip out some napkins. It's the easiest shit (and super predictable; they're kids, they'll make messes) but people will give you this look like "that dude is on it".
posted by Jpfed at 11:20 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


> People will often suffer in silence, but I'm pretty good at picking up on "I'm uncomfortable" signals, and will frequently ask what's wrong--I usually get a downplayed "just a bit of a headache/my lips are just a little dry/it's just a little loud in here" and then I immediately hand them the solution to their problem.

I hear this. I enjoy being That Person in my office.

And everyone once in a blue moon, I do some enjoyable magic spontaneous problem-solving out of my bag for my (male) spouse. Important caveats: a) He does not carry any expectation that I am prepared for random things. b) He uses an everyday-carry bag himself for utterly practical purposes (not full of entertainment options) including room for groceries, because our division of household chores does not fall along gendered expectations. c) When he is not carrying a bag, he does not ask me to carry any of his stuff.
posted by desuetude at 11:23 AM on July 18


I take whatever I need for the occasion of leaving the house, so it could be a backpack with phone, extra pair of glasses, water bottle, kleenex, mints, pen& notebook, wallet, and space for extra stuff--shopping bag, book, leftover food. Or it could be just the wallet, keys, phone for this trip. Maybe lip balm. Depends on where I'm going. When my impulsive friend lures me out "for a walk" I now know to take everything up to and including bug spray, shoes, spare clothes, snacks, extra credit cards (if usable) extra ibuprofin, phone charger, overnight toiletries, flashlight, and I should probably consider signal flares, rope, a knife, and a larger than average flask (filled in advance).
posted by twentyfeetof tacos at 12:00 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Interesting issue. My goal is always the Grateful Dead concert rule. Never bring in something you cannot afford to lose or only bring in what you can lose. Usually that amounts to a $20, a debit/credit card and maybe a driver's license. My EDC is cash, keys and a credit card and my DL. Now that my kids are older 22, 23 and 24, I don't even carry my phone about half the time.

As for the no bag on the plane thing, I am one of those people. I cannot tell you how freeing it is to not have a bag, any bag, when flying. I first learned that when I was commuting from SF to NYC for 8 weeks. Out on the redeye Sunday night and back Thursday afternoon. I would leave my clothes at the hotel where they would clean them and hang them in the room I had the next week. I left a backpack with toiletries and assorted small stuff like that. I would FedEx any documents I needed to have with me. So, I would walk on to the plane empty hanged. Sometimes I would have a to go beer in my hand from the airport bar. With no bag, there is no rush to get on the plane to claim overhead space. I would stroll on at last call. It did help that after a few weeks of commuting, the flight attendants got to know me. Since my company was paying and I traveled enough, I was upgraded to business class almost every time.


When my kids were little, like 2, 3 and 4, I figured out that they liked to wear little backpacks when they went out or we traveled. I would have them carry two extra diapers and some wipes in their packs. I kept my carry down to a half empty backpack with a few juices and some of the heavier or messier stuff like suntan lotion. On a plane, my daughter ran out of paper on which to color/draw and pulled out her diaper and tried to write on that.

Often now, my gf will ask me if I am going to carry something with me. When I tell her no, she asks what if I need it. My answer is always the same. I will suffer without it until I can get home. And I do.
posted by AugustWest at 12:00 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Here's a 2013 study (one year earlier than that cited above, but with a much greater sample size) that did find statistically significant differences in proportional corpus callosum size.

I can't find a study about accuracy in assessing risk right now (I don't have enough time to do a thorough search), but that particular link is not where I originally heard about it.
posted by amtho at 12:35 PM on July 18


" I haven't quite nailed the outdoor purse. Not a backpack for overnights, not an over-the-shoulder tote for workdays. But something lightweight that will hold my water bottle PLUS my husband's water bottle (after I have to pester him to fill his own, lest he drink all of my water when he is inevitably very thirsty at some point during the hike), PLUS all the usual things"

I use something like this or like this for that.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:37 PM on July 18


I would leave my clothes at the hotel where they would clean them and hang them in the room I had the next week. I left a backpack with toiletries and assorted small stuff like that.

That alone is a bit of privilege, too. Not saying it as a bad thing, just that it's a service I didn't even know existed until just now. I mean, it makes sense that it does exist, it's just that I've never had a job important enough to have done business travel.
posted by cooker girl at 12:55 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I've begun to think that it is generally good etiquette for posts about things men do where one is the exception not to post about solely how different you are, as it often implies that a lot of men totally don't do the thing, not that you are one of the good guys.

So, speaking more broadly:

I think it's interesting to contrast what women carry in purses and what men carry for EDC (every day carry), and the frequency of use of these items.

How often do guys really need regular and phillips head screw drivers and don't have access? Bottle openers sure, and knives, at least for packages opening, sure occasionally, but unless you smoke, how often do you need a lighter? How often do you need a pry bar? A flashlight, separate from your phone? A tactical pen?

Contrast to makeup, tissues, water bottles, tampons, sunscreen, etc in a usual purse.

I'm not saying that everything in an edc kit is useless and carried as a fetish, or that everything in a purse is useful and necessary, but I feel it's worth contrasting stuff and picking out what you want to have so you can look cool vs stuff you carry because you use it everyday.
posted by gryftir at 1:01 PM on July 18 [10 favorites]


I've had a couple of Swiss Army Cards and keep one in my wallet: little credit-card sized gadgets with knife blade, scissors, screwdriver head, micro torch, ruler, magnifying glass etc.

Kind of assumed I'd be doing lots of cutting and unscrewing, but the thing that's come in most handy for most people while on the move is... the tweezers.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:25 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


For a guy how often do they need makeup, tissues, water bottles, tampons, sunscreen, etc? If they need them then they'll go in a bag but the fact that they aren't carrying them is pretty good evidence that they don't need them. In my example I'll carry tissues if I have a runny nose but otherwise I won't.

If you don't wear makeup or need tampons then what do you still need to carry with you?

I think most men think EDC is silly because yeah that stuff will never get used. We aren't thinking "hey that is a cool leatherman or tactical flashlight" but rather "why do you bother carrying that?" For regular travel in urban areas (commuting to work, shopping, errands, etc) all you need is your wallet and phone, and maybe not even the wallet if your phone can make payments or you have a case with some credit card slots in it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:36 PM on July 18


I think it's interesting to contrast what women carry in purses and what men carry for EDC (every day carry), and the frequency of use of these items.

You mean like work to pass laws so they can every day carry guns?
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:49 PM on July 18


For a guy how often do they need ...sunscreen...? If they need them then they'll go in a bag but the fact that they aren't carrying them is pretty good evidence that they don't need them.

Personally I think there are a lot of future skin cancer patients out there who aren’t very good at accurately assessing whether or not they need sunscreen.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 1:50 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


regular travel in urban areas

Out here in the badlands between cities you'd not only carry more of this other gear but you'd carry it all in a pot, serving the secondary purpose of cooking the muskrat you've hunted down and stabbed to death with your Leatherman blade come lunchtime. Mmm, muskrat stew.
posted by XMLicious at 2:31 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


1) Today I learned that most people don't get runny noses randomly throughout the day, and thus are never unexpectedly in need of tissues (should I see an allergist?)

2) Men need water bottles and sunscreen just as much as women, lots of them are just dumbasses about it. Please note, I, as a woman, am also a dumbass about it, but there's no gender difference in the fact that we all need to be regularly drinking water and applying sunscreen.

3) Other things that are useful regardless of makeup and tampon usage (I am a woman who uses neither): Tylenol, chapstick, earplugs, headphones, pens, paper, snacks, hair pins, hand lotion (if you get cracked skin), hand warmers (if you live in a winter state), nail clippers (for hangnails), sunglasses, band-aids, floss... none of these things are gendered, except in that on average men are less willing to take care of themselves and decide to just "muscle through."

Unrelated, this post prompted me to finally update my ask with the not-a-fanny-pack I made for my partner so I stopped having to carry their keys/wallet/phone when they wore skirts without pockets. (I didn't mind other than the fact that I did a lot of standing around staring stupidly, waiting for them to open the car, before remembering I'm the one with the keys, and I would also forget to give them their things back.) Maybe this is a solution men would consider as well?
posted by brook horse at 2:47 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


No, I decidedly didn't mean any sort of gun rights advocacy. Perhaps you are confusing every day carry and open carry, which are, one would hope, very different things for most people.
posted by gryftir at 7:07 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I had to go look. My shoulder bag has my nitro spray (in case of another heart attack), a checkbook, a roll of cough drops, and a pen (presumably to fill out the checks with). I need to start carrying napkins and water.
posted by Mogur at 8:20 PM on July 18


Other things that are useful regardless of makeup and tampon usage (I am a woman who uses neither): Tylenol, chapstick, earplugs, headphones, pens, paper, snacks, hair pins, hand lotion (if you get cracked skin), hand warmers (if you live in a winter state), nail clippers (for hangnails), sunglasses, band-aids, floss... none of these things are gendered

I keep a lot of these things at my desk and have them at home as well. But if I didn't have my own desk I could see the need to bring a toothbrush or hand lotion in my bag, even if I never actually use my desk hand lotion. My schedule is pretty structured during the week and I'm never going to be somewhere other than my home or office for more than 2 hours at a time on any given day. So I don't feel the need to carry them with my for my 30 minute commute or when I'm running errands. For people who carry lots of things in their bag, would you still do so if your situation more closely matched mine?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:40 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Just as another data point, I don’t carry anything more than a key, a card (or cash), and a phone if I must.

Sometimes I need a bag, but my goal is to carry as little as possible. I don’t rely on anyone else to carry my stuff, though.

Coworking days are a whole other story!
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 9:42 PM on July 18


EDC fetish Leatherman jewelry. I have one, mostly it's a surprise-bottle-opener-as-conversation-piece. You're welcome, world.
posted by saysthis at 1:33 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


My sister has a large purse in which she carries everything but the kitchen sink. But she can never actually find anything in her purse without a protracted search of a minute or two, and that seems to me like a clear sign that one has too much junk in their purse. A good friend of mine chooses her purse size on the basis of being able to carry her iPad in it, a determination that I may adopt for my next purse, since I too have a tablet and sometimes would like to bring it with me while I’m out and about.

I deliberately chose my purse to not fall prey to the junk search, so it is a smallish size that fits my phone, a large comb, my wallet, my keys, a lip balm and some mints. I also made a deliberate choice to wean myself away from carrying makeup most days, although I do own some travel size makeup if I go somewhere where a touch-up would be a good idea. I don’t carry pads or tampons because I don’t need them anymore, and well, I used OB anyway and nobody seems to like those, and my aspiration to girl code does not stretch to buying and carrying some other brand of tampons I don’t need, purely to hand out to strangers.

I think that limiting the things I carry with me has been pretty good for me, because I definitely fall prey to being The Woman Who Solves Problems and don’t really want to encourage a dynamic where the default is that people just look to me to figure it all out. In terms of being able to solve problems for myself, though, it is just as easy (and lighter, and takes up less space) to carry extra money than to carry things. I’ve also employed the same mechanism at my house, to build up a petty cash fund instead of building up a stash of “stuff”.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:07 AM on July 19


No, I decidedly didn't mean any sort of gun rights advocacy.
No, I didn't mean you did, I was just making an illusion to the idea that men are not carrying things that some feel they need to carry (napkins, bandaids, etc) which are occasionally necessary but they pass laws to carry guns on the .0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% chance that they might have to stop crime, and carry them religiously.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:32 AM on July 19


6'3" guy, have travelled a lot, been a security guard*, now do a lot of survey type work often remote and always alone. Usually wear\carry a Gearslinger, feels so a part of me it's more like clothing than a bag.

Usually has Chromebook, locking pliers, a self-opening lockknife, Swiss army knife, the makings of fire, water bottle, painkillers, medical tape, pens\notebook and transparent clipboard, random cables and often a paperback.

Any fool can be uncomfortable and ill-prepared and I'm not going to be one of them. Lots of dead idiots in NZ who go bush\wandering with no gear.

*my main tool then was a small garden fork (gun carrying being illegal in NZ), once you've been forked you won't be bothering me again.
posted by unearthed at 1:15 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I was originally annoyed at the suggestion that there was some sense of masculinity which meant that men wouldn't carry a bag of useful stuff. It did not really accord with my experience.

I think I have to walk that back a little after this Twitter thread.
Clearly there are some men who apparently consider how you carry stuff some kind of expression of their masculinty. Though the ratio would suggest it's very much a minority.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:32 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


« Older ‘We feel useless, alone, bored, guilty, horny’   |   Ricky, Renuncia! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments