I am trying to prepare you. I am trying to excuse the small thing I am about to share then analyse. I want to make it clear the item I had a miniscule epiphany, an ‘oh’ moment about is not something I tend to think about.Reader, I am about to discuss bags.
If you are a woman being interviewed on XOJane you will be asked something about your bag, “What’s the grossest thing in your purse?” in this case. Brownstein answered: “I just carry around air really, I have all these empty bags and there’s nothing left in there…it’s just ridiculous that I even carry a bag. It just seems like the thing you are supposed to do”.
Without my bag I feel like I have forgotten something, I feel anxious and incomplete. But there is nothing in my bag I couldn’t probably force into a pocket (although I wear women’s clothes, which tends to only have fake or few pockets). It isn’t just my bag I worry about; I met Squeamish Louise recently and repeatedly asked her where her bag was, “I haven’t got one with me today” she patiently replied. What is my problem with bags?
Like Carrie Brownstein (I am not trying to shoehorn in how we could be friends or how we’re so alike but…we could be real life friends, we’re so alike!) I more or less carry around air. Come warmer weather I carry around mine and my bag-free friends’ hoodies/cardigans/scarves like a fool.
It is not the first time I have been made to think about the point of my bag. The first time was during English A level class. Our teacher Barry always took time at the beginning of the lesson to discuss with us what books we were reading. Barry’s book was Germaine Greer’s The Whole Woman, ‘according to Greer, a woman’s bag is symbolic of her womb, you women are carrying your wombs about with you’ he informed us.
The Greer quote he is referring to is this: “Why do women always carry bags, and why are those bags so often heavy? Why is it that most women will not go out of the house without bags loaded with objects of no immediate use? Is the tote bag an exterior uterus, the outward sign of the unmentionable burden?”
Perhaps Greer is on to something, perhaps this is quite a stretch of the imagination.
When XOJane interviews men they don’t ask him what’s in his purse, or bag or pocket for that matter. Because when we think ‘bag’ we think ‘handbag’ and that is usually held by a matriarchal figure. Bags full of plasters, hand-cream and spat upon tissues. A ‘manbag’ is A) usually a joke and B) containing important papers.
Whether you think the bag is a status symbol, a required receptacle or your outward womb the question is actually quite personal and potentially embarrassing. Because it reveals certain anxieties you fear may materialise when you leave the house.
It seems like a dull challenge, but those of us (without small children – there’s logic to what the traditional handbag contains) who usually pledge allegiance to the bag should try going out sans receptacle.
Without something clinging to our backs, hanging from our shoulders and bouncing against our hips we are free of cloakroom charges, free to dance and free to run. I promise you won’t get suddenly hungry, thirsty or need mints.
Go ahead, if anything it might mean XOJane have to readdress those 5 questions they always ask.