A few months ago, I went to a casino with a female friend. We both carried bags over our shoulders. Seconds after entering through the door, a security guard stopped us and asked if they could search my bag. I complied because I didn’t want to compromise my friend’s reputation. She visited the casino often, and we were there to eat and chat.
Her purse was bigger than my bag, but she didn’t raise any alarms because, well, women are supposed to carry bags – men aren’t. A woman carrying a bag is as natural as wearing pants. A man carrying a bag might be up to something. At least, that’s how people perceive it.
Some men feel uncomfortable carrying a bag. They perceive it to be a threat to their masculinity and will avoid carrying a bag, even if it’s inconvenient.
When a man carries a bag, whether it’s a reusable shopping bag, a backpack, or a satchel, he’s often scrutinized. If not by security guards, then by other members of society.
The security guard seemed disappointed.
The casino security guard peered inside my bag and looked disappointed when all he found was my laptop, personal hygiene items, and some tissues. I was worried that he wouldn’t allow me into the casino with my laptop, but he did.
Once we got our food, I watched people enter the same door with all kinds of bags. Some women carried purses big enough to fit a small child inside. None of them were stopped for a search.
I could have protested the search, citing my fourth amendment rights prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure. I didn’t, though, because I learned a big lesson as a teenager: constitutional rights don’t apply unless you’re dealing with government officials or government agencies. When you’re on private property, or inside a private business, you have to comply with their rules.
What’s in my bag?
I carry a bag for the same reason anyone carries a bag – I have stuff I want access to when I go out. Stuff that doesn’t fit into my pockets. Besides my laptop, I never know when I’ll need a clean pair of socks, a beanie, or a snack. I’ve also realized that tying my sweatshirt around my neck or waist is no longer fashionable, so it’s convenient to have a place to store it when I’m not wearing it.
I often stay the night at a friend’s house on a whim, and when I’ve got my bag, I’ve got a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and deodorant.
I carry a bag for functional reasons, and it was given to me for free. There are people who pay hundreds of dollars for high-end leather bags made by well-known designers, but I’m not one of them. I’m not against designer bags, and I’d never wear a backpack with a suit, but most fashionable bags are made from animal leather. I’m not vegan, but I try my best to avoid buying products that required an animal to die.
While reflecting on my experience of being searched at the casino, I wondered if the way I was dressed caused the staff member to stop me. Maybe it wasn’t only my bag. I noticed a couple of men dressed in professional attire carrying leather satchels had not been stopped. I had been wearing baggy jeans, an old t-shirt, and a backward baseball cap.
Professional men and women carry bags, sometimes as a fashion statement. Designers like Louis Vuitton make some people want to carry bags to portray a specific image. Each style of bag presents a unique message to the world.
Wondering if I was due for a style change, I started looking into professional bags that don’t look like a purse. I found cool styles but unfortunately, everything was made of leather. Other materials exist, but I don’t think canvas looks professional enough. Then I found Tokyobags – an independent crafting studio that creates minimalist vegan bags. They use faux leather material in styles for men.
Let’s stop holding men and women to different standards.
It’s no wonder some men avoid carrying simple reusable grocery bags – some perceive putting a strap over your shoulder, or holding onto handles, as feminine. In truth, straps and handles don’t care about your gender. They exist as a utility to help you carry the bag.
I have stuff to carry and don’t give other people’s perceptions a second thought. Perhaps if more men carried bags, it would be seen as normal and wouldn’t raise a red flag.
This content made possible by site supporter Larry Alton.
Photo credit: Pixabay