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 t hat 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.