Sep 30 2005

Fashion Week: It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over


It’s kind of hard to make out, but somewhere amid my deskal clutter is the tiny handbag, 8" X 5"

Holy moly. You regulars are aware that I am not ordinarily given to flights of goopy sentimentality, but I’d have to be made of marble not to be pretty choked up over the completely unexpected mammothity of good vibes y’all have loosed into the aether. Thanks to everyone who’s written in support of my continued existence. For once, I completely agree with every last fuckin’ one of you. I am moved to dedicate the domination of my next pork mole taco to the greatest little bunch of patriarchy-blamers the internet has ever known (I’ll dominate a veggie burger from P. Terry’s Burger Stand for the vegans, but the Klingons are just gonna have to tuff it).

OK.  Where was I?

Oh yeah, the tiny handbags.

You know the ones I mean? They’re the little clutches with the little handles that you see blonde women under 35 gamely attempting to turn into shoulder bags by squeezing them with their armpits.

It may amuse you to know that I spent a couple of days last week sporting around town with one of these tiny handbags. Is there anything I won’t do to blame the patriarchy?

My findings are these: if the tiny handbag is not a misogynist conspiracy, I don’t know what is.

Even if you are the sort of person who only totes around the tiny things that will fit inside one of these purses (your house key, two bits, and a Xanax), a less efficient container is hardly imaginable. In keeping with the venerable and sadistic women’s fashion tradition of shackling, impeding, and inflicting wherever possible, the bag appears to have been designed specifically to immobilize an entire arm.

You either have to hold it in your hand, which, if you only had two hands to begin with, decreases your handiness by a full 50%, or you have to dangle it from your wrist, where it bangs into things, or you have to hang it from your elbow, where it still bangs into things and also makes you look like a dowdy old Republican, or you have to shove it up around your shoulder and, as I mentioned, squeeze it with your pit in a perpetual struggle against gravity.

Furthermore, access to the bag requires two hands: one to hold it and one to unzip it. And will accommodate, my tests show, neither a copy of Black Like Me nor a field guide to Texas spiders.

Do you see the insanity? Do you grasp the fiendish plot? You have to dedicate a whole limb to this bag. Who wakes up in the morning, flings open the shutters, and cries out, "Today I only need one arm! I will cripple myself with a moron fashion accessory and take on the world without my field guide to Texas spiders!" ? Even if leaving the house with diminished spider identification abilities were advisable, couldn’t one just as easily shove their key, their two bits, and their Xanax into a pocket, or hire a sherpa?

Of course, this is true of any handbag, which is why I can only endorse pursey leathergoods with long shoulder straps, or wheels.


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  1. Erin

    The other part of the tiny-handbag conspiracy is that women’s wallets are so crazy big. How do you get one of those portfolio-sized wallets into your dainty bag, anyhow? Oh wait, you’re a woman — you’re not allowed to handle the money, is that it?

  2. nicky

    Really. I mean, rillly. The teeniest tiniest one of these things I’ve ever seen looked like an eyeglass-case with a handle. Which begs the question: Where does one put one’s eyeglasses in such a thing? Let alone, let’s see, what do I carry around all the time: eyeglasses, reading glasses, sunglasses, an actual wallet, keys, lip balm, chewing gum, extra band-aids, smokes, cell phone, pens, pencils, notepad, George Bush voodoo doll–all the essentials for getting from Point A to Point B. Not to mention paperbacks and mags for those neverending waits in the docs’ offices. (In onco-time, Twisty, this means neverending like you never imagined. However roomy your regulation shoulder purse may be, I suggest an auxilliary tote. Which, by the way: How about an “I Blame the Patriarchy” store, perhaps via Cafe Press, for totes, t-shirts, and the like? I’d buy.)

  3. flyinfur

    Don’t we ALL need “I Blame the Patriarchy” gear?

    I detest those stupid handbags that won’t fit over the shoulder and take up a whole hand. Makes me crazy.

    I’d just wear a backpack except that it’s not very safe to carry stuff back there unless you have eyes in the back of your head.

  4. larkspur

    I think we’re supposed to keep those tiny handbags inside our giant messenger bags, so we can haul the tiny ones out at the end of the day when we go clubbing or whatever. Or at least for when we go to lunch.

    This virtually guarantees that you will forget to transfer something essential into the tiny bag, or will impulsively leave something because it just won’t fit. So there you are at lunch, one arm immobilized by the tinybag as you scamper into the restaurant on your highest heels, and then oops! You can’t read the menu without your reading glasses. And oops! You forgot to bring cash, so someone will have to spot you, or else you’ll charge the whole thing on a credit card.

    So there you are, cute, helpless, with one functional limb. Shrug off the tinybag, kick off the pointyshoes, and use that strong arm to grab the patriarchy by the neck.

    Um, also, I commented on your earlier post, and filled the first paragraph with typos. Sorry. I was just So Fired Up.

  5. Martha Garvey

    Wow, I think about this all the time! Patriarchal purse conspiracies bedevil me! I myself prefer to walk with a nice red wagon…the better to carry my patriarchy-hating dog when she gets tired.

    Seriously. The master’s purses will never dismantle the master’s house.

  6. Stephanie

    Spot-on patriarchy blaming, Twisty. I’ve never understood why anyone would carry those crippling little things. There are all the reasons you mention, plus they’re so easy to put down and forget somewhere when you’re busy thinking of higher things, so you can look like a ditsy chick as a bonus.

    An everyday bag for me must (1) be big enough to hold all the regular stuff-sunglasses, wallet, comb, lip balm, cell phone, keys, tampons, notebook, etc.-as well as a paperback book and (2) have a strap long enough that it can go across my chest bandolier style. Occasionally a teeny purse is useful, so I knit myself little ones that are the size and shape of a jeans pocket and have the requisite long-ass across the chest strap.

  7. WookieMonster

    My purse of preference is a small-ish purse specifically designed to strap across my chest like a messanger bag (extra awesome points for a cell phone holder on the strap that is in front of me for easy access), but seeing as how the fashion industry in their infinite patriarchal wisdom have decided that these are “so last decade”, I am stuck with a small purse with a short handle as described above (except slightly larger to carry all sorts of useful stuff like allergy medicine so my sinuses don’t explode, and multipliers just in case of emergency). It’s all the inconvenience that Twisty described and more. I really need to make my own with the pattern of my all time favorite, but just try to find a good sturdy, sewable material, I dare you. I’ve tried and tried and the closest I came up with was tacky nylon…I’ve been thinking more and more about knitting one and felting it, but good yarn for something like that is very, very expensive stuff.

  8. Amy

    My “purse” for lack of a better word, is indeed a back-pack-looking thing that is virtually dirt proof but which, if necessary, can be slung in the washer when on rare occassions it is smeared with virtual dirt.

    I carry all the above listed items as my fellow patriarchy blamers, but I’ll add that I schlep a Leatherman in a smart carrying case as well. You never know when you want to pull a MacGyver on your lunch break.

    I work on a college campus and the odd and highly annoying trend here is to tote around your god-awfully heavy back pack full of the necessities of college existence — AND — have one of those twitty litte purses slung on your arm, sometimes under the backpack, sometimes on the outside, sometimes on the opposite side. Um, hello? What’s the point of that? Sigh.

    As for “I Blame the Patriarchy” gear – I’d snag it up in a flash. Are you going to do anything in a twitty litte purse? :)

  9. Dim Undercellar

    Belly packs.

    Everyone needs a belly pack.

    NO limbs are immobilized during carrying. One or two, optionally, are required to open and utilize. It can hold EVERYTHING. Sizes vary to accomodate your personal needs. Extra pockets, of varying sizes and shapes, allow for mucho utility.

    Unfortunately, the Patriarchy says only people who are (A) not male or (B) male and old can wear it acceptably. And even women are tempted to buy $1.7 million designer versions.

  10. emjaybee

    I can’t get behind the bellypack, DU. It doesn’t hold much, for one, and it looks so godawful, for another. I’d rather have one of those Scottish purses you wear with a kilt, the kind made out of a whole otter…at least it hangs better.

    For a while in college I carried a man’s wallet for my cash and a keychain, and that was it. Very freeing! But did not leave room for tampons or books, so I had to move to a big unfashionable shoulder bag or backpack, where I’ve been ever since. Messenger bags look like a good idea, but tend to pinch the boobage.

  11. zz

    Why stop with the little ones? All handbags have the stench of Patriachy to me. Who is dictating that women must cart around all this useless shit? You guessed it, the Patriarchy!

  12. Miriam

    Best wishes on your struggle with breast cancer!

    And I totally agree on the handbag thing. That’s why I carry a massive RED tote bag to stick it to the man replete with waterbottle, books to read, knitting to work on, planner, journals, candy, advil, camera (for blogging convenience), and calculator. On second thought… perhaps my tote bag is not so much about sticking to the man as it is my obsessive nature…. hmm…

    You know what really bugs me though? Women’s PANTS! If we actually HAD pockets on women’s pants, then we wouldn’t need tiny, useless handbags.

  13. Minion

    How surprisingly insightful of you to recognize the true purpose of the mini-handbag. Normally, I would make a phone call to my supervisor, who would notify his manager, who would inform his overseer, who would discuss this sensitive issue with the director of Silencing Operations, who would undoubtedly take all measures necessary to ensure the secrecy of the operation, which would almost certainly include your termination. However, I find that I am inordinately pleased that someone has finally seen a small shred of my genius. While I make no claim to inventing ludicrously inefficient hand bags, I was the first in my division to see how they could be used effectively in the fight against the all-too inappropriately named “Women’s Liberation Movement.” The great battle to preserve Patriarchy is as subtle as it is ubiquitous, and the tiny ray of light your awareness may shed upon it is far too small a thing to influence the ultimate goal of the Patriarchal Conspiracy: Eternal Victory.

  14. nicky

    While we’re on the subject of fashion, Twisty, could you come up with a new pants design? I mean, of what use is the fly-zipper for women? We all know it’s meant for men to have ready access to their you-know-what in order to take a whizz without undressing. Why can’t women’s pants have a zipper in the crotch, where it’s really needed? Or perhaps a front-to-back flap-style opening. Think about it: no more bunched-up pants around the ankles when nature calls.

    Yeah, well, they ridiculed my goddess, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, when she, six months’ pregnant with her fifth child, strode to the podium wearing bloomers. Some of us are just cursed with being ahead of our times.

  15. Ron Sullivan

    There’s a field guide to Texas spiders? See: there are some things right with the world.

    When I was younger and skinnier, I carried everything in my pockets most of the time. (I was wearing Carhartts before the young fash types were born; started with white ones when I was a nurse, for the extra pockets.) Lately I use a belly bag (which I buy cheap at places like Long’s Drugs) slung on one hip, where it’s out of the way and easy to reach. Fortunately I’m both old and non-male, so I don’t have to give a shit.

    When I need more carrying capacity, I put the sporran into a shoulder bag/smallish messenger bag with an adjustable strap, for shoulder or bandolier carry-age. Depends partly on the situation and partly on which set of muscles is least sore, how I carry it. I do have some adjusting to do with the boobage, minimal though it is, as gravity has its way with me.

    I blame the patriarchy for that too, given the ridiculous assortment of bras I have to choose from. If I were into pain, pads, and/or sternum radio reception I’d have it made.

  16. Hissy Cat

    Was anyone else reminded of the mini-backpacks that were really popular in, like, 1994? They looked like they’d been attacked by voo-doo head-shrinkers. What the hell was up with that?

  17. Minion

    The Patriarchy, silly. The Patriarchy.

  18. Linnea

    Futhermore, the minibag requires that you bring someone else with you to carry the other stuff, often a man. This makes you dependent on said man, the goal of the Patriarchy.

  19. magikmama

    Ron Sullivan-

    Yeah. About the evils of the bra, there was actually a study done at MIT by 3 seperate classes of engineering students. The first part was assessing how well a bra performed the act of spreading out the weight – it failed miserably. They tested only bras that were marketed as “very supportive.” These weren’t the flimsy, fashionable torture devices – these were the huge, ugly sturdy things.

    According to this study, wearing a bra such as these actually creates more issues because of the way it redirects stress to the upper back, cause posture issues.

    Secondly, they designed a better bra (based entirely on support issues.) After many retests – they gave the design to a bunch of companies to try and get them manufactured – but there were no takers.

    I wish I could find a link to this – I watched a whole episode about it on the Discovery channel in the early 90’s. I found it fascinating.

  20. d.e.i.x.i.s.

    That’s why they made the Ipex, silly! The Ipex is the bestest bra EVER.

    +++Who is dictating that women must cart around all this useless shit?+++
    Me. I need all of the shit I carry around or I wouldn’t carry it around. And fuck the tiny bag– I carry around a big military medical bag with a long ass shoulder strap.

  21. d.e.i.x.i.s.

    +++I mean, of what use is the fly-zipper for women? We all know it’s meant for men to have ready access to their you-know-what in order to take a whizz without undressing. Why can’t women’s pants have a zipper in the crotch, where it’s really needed? Or perhaps a front-to-back flap-style opening.+++
    I’m reminded of split bloomers. I don’t think that shit would fly today, though– I mean, one wrong move & your naughty bits are on display. Even if such pants were made [outside of the fetish circuit, anyway], our underwear are still built wrong for an easy bathroom trip.

    You know it’s time to blame the patriarchy when it was easier for Victorian women to take a piss than us!

  22. SassyCat

    When I was going on rounds of job interviews, I too, feel prey to the idiodic tiny handbag. Felt like a jackass all damn day. It’s just not worth it.

  23. nicky

    D.E.X.I.S.: Then it’s high time for women’s underwear redesign as well. Men’s briefs and boxers have those little overlapping deals through which they can easily pull their schlongs, right? Why not women’s? The snap-crotch idea comes to mind.

  24. Anonymous

    yes, i thought of those teensy little backpacks–just the right size for a pack of gum, and nothing else. well, ok, maybe a xanax would fit, too.

  25. Nikki

    I would totally make out with you.

    And, I say to hell with the field guide to Texas spiders. I’d like a field guide to Texas Spinsters.

  26. joolya

    What do you all think of the man-bag, ie the man-purse, most commonly seen on Europeans and generally mocked in the US, until the males notice how much stuff they can fit in a purse and are hooked? My nonheteronormative significant other who just so happens to be a male is a big fan of the man-bag and i support his decision, especially when he totes my wallet around for me (as, being a woman, i have no pockets).

  27. Sylvanite

    I haven’t carried a purse since high school. In college, I put everything in my backpack. I noticed the evils of purses and the pocketlessness of women’s dress slacks and determined to gain employment in a field that allowed me to dress down into practical clothes. As a geologist, I get to wear standard jeans to work (i.e., no low-slung hip-huggers). Consequently, if it doesn’t fit into my pockets, it doesn’t usually get taken. However, I do use my lunchbag to carry stuff on occasion. :)

    Also, bras suck. Especially during the summer. I wear mine as seldom as possible. Fortunately, my modest endowment makes it possible a good portion of the time. I don’t have any “weight” to be distributed, so I guess the only function the bra serves is to not advertise my nipples to the world!

  28. novice blamer

    “My nonheteronormative significant other who just so happens to be a male is a big fan of the man-bag and i support his decision, especially when he totes my wallet around for me (as, being a woman, i have no pockets).”

    This is funny to me because my nonheteronormative significant other who just so happens to be a male, is always asking me, “could you please put this in your purse for me?” Of course, I carry a big, long-strapped, multi-organizer-compartment thing that I’m sure is a monstrosity by any fashionable standard, but hey, it works. And probably holds way more stuff than pockets would anyway.

  29. Mandos

    As a dude I also carry around a tonne of useless stuff. I can’t help it. I have what is effectively a man-purse for it. I used to call it a shoulderbag when my cousin (who occasionally blames the patriarchy) pointed remarked that I call it a shoulderbag when it is no different in any important way from a large purse, and that my mother carries around a large purse very similar to it—the same colour, too. Mine is just more square and briefcasey.

  30. Steph

    I sometimes think the tiny bag can be used to subvert the patriarchy just a teeny (ie microbial) bit.

    Let’s say it’s summer and I want to go out for the afternoon wearing a tiny tank and shorts-which we all know have almost no pockets. I can carry a bit of cash, a credit card, keys and a lip balm and go. Mine is actually a passport wallet thingie with a long shoulder strap (like a mini messanger bag).

    I don’t have to carry any man’s things (because they always ask), my hands are free and it’s nicer than a waist pack (I think they’re really ugly). I have a nice knit one too.

    But I guess then it’s not really one of those stupid mini bags.

    Oh well.

  31. Kyra

    Once, I had a pair of pants that had a pair of big pockets on the outside of the hips, about halfway down. They were lovely. Unfortunately they were also tight enough that I tore open the seat when I sat down one day, and my mother took them away (what is it with mothers–so I showed the very bottom of my butt a little bit, they had nice pockets). Nowadays I’m looking for a sort of suede pouch, y’know, the small round things you occasionally find at Renaissance faires and Black Hills tourist shops, that I can wear on the side of my hip tied to a belt or the belt loop of a pair of hip-hugging pants. Like a pocket, except you take it off before you wash the pants (and therefore have less chance of your wallet, tampons, and car keys going through the wash).

    Things I would carry in my pockets if I had room for them: wallet, checkbook, keys, key to Dad’s car with its big remote keychain, eyedrops, chapstick, sunglasses, contact lens case, Swiss army knife, tampons, Midol, notebook, sketch pad, a dozen or so pencils in the full range of hardness, pen, conte crayons, watercolors, paintbrushes, charcoal sticks, two or three books, CD player, CD of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, CD of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, CD of burned Green Day songs (all the good ones, none of the sucky ones), chocolate, a pear or peach, bottled water, canned Mountain Dew, digital camera (if I had one), laptop computer (if I had one), cell phone (if I had one), flashlight, screwdriver, spare batteries, chopsticks, granola bars, and tiny travel pillow and eye pillow.

    Things I can fit in my pocket: Wallet, eyedrops, chapstick, keys that don’t have big remote keychain attatched.

    I blame the patriarchy.

  32. Ron O.

    The man purse. Reminds me of my first lesson in patriarchy-blaming.

    In the 70s my dad started carrying a nice leather bag with a long shoulder strap. Hee took alot of pictures, so people would compliment him on his fine camera bag. Inevitably, he would say “That’s not my camera bag, that’s my purse.” Us kids would be mortified. He didn’t care, he was too highly amused watching people’s reactions.

  33. antelope

    It seems we have an advantage here in Alaska – I just put everything I need in various pockets of my jacket or coat. Since some sort of over-layer is needed 9 months out of the year, I really only think about purses in the summertime. Sometimes in the summer I bring a denim jacket “in case it gets cold in the evening” but really it’s for the pockets.

  34. ae

    I have about as much desire to carry a purse as I do to blow Pat Buchanan. I carry around a record bag, because it’s a decent size, frees my hands (damn right, Twisty!), and holds the essentials: novel, Moleskine, pen, wallet, keys, phone. I sling it crossways over my shoulder, the only drawback of which is to accentuate my boobage, but hey, the Patriarchy should have to be distracted sometimes, since they’re so keen on distracting us, which brings me to what we put inside purses.

    Weighing us down and occupying our minds w/ shiny baubles and gewgaws is the Patriarchy’s plan! Cripes, why do we need all that crap? What are we doing, going on safari? Bring your wallet and keys, friends, and let’s keep both hands and, more importantly, our minds free for patriarchy-smacking.

  35. ae

    Kyra, chopsticks and tiny eye pillow! Hhaha! Gaw, I must just be accustomed to being either a) uncomfortable, or b) untethered. I place a high premium on untethered.

  36. Leesee

    My very best wishes are going out to you through this thin little wire, I hope you triumph over this setback. Your blog makes me feel better every day, keep up your smart twisty ways.

  37. TimT

    But aren’t those little handbags good for hiding little revolvers in? On the other hand, large bags with wheels have the capacity for holding ouzis and sabres. Hmmm, tough choice.

    Perhaps you should opt for the mafia option and go around carrying violin cases that do not have violins in them.

  38. Wally

    As a college based person, albeit an old one . . . . backpacks are cool.

  39. sois disant

    as for the crotchless pants, doesn’t anybody remember Fancy Ass jeans anymore? The ones with the zipper fly that went *all* the way around. Sooo daring. Sooo cool. Especially up here in Canada, ’round about January. We really gotta revive those, I think.

  40. sois disant

    mind you, I don’t think a pair of Fancy Ass (Asses?) lent a lot of advantage in terms of space for carrying stuff–unless there’s some kind of muff reference somebody else wants to run with?

  41. Twisty

    Wouldn’t the zipper, you know, hurt?

  42. nicky

    Sois Disant: Now that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout. Forget space to carry stuff, that’s what big-ass purses and tote bags are for. What about the abolition in women’s fashion of the fly-front pants? It seems women-friendly pants design is as risible in the 21st century as the relatively sensible bloomers were to the original suffragists, who truly suffered with 20 lbs. of corsets, street-length petticoat upon petticoat and skirt, ankle-high button shoes, mandatory long sleeves, etc. — the Western, 19th-century version of the womanly form-denying burka. True liberation will come when we devise a woman-anatomy-friendly, fly-free pants. And when it first emerges it will receive the same ridicule that bloomers did when our foremothers first donned them. They, humiliated, ultimately returned to the patriarchy-proscribed, burdensome dress style of the day. How far have we progressed, sporting pants that are male-friendly and female-exclusionary? There, I throw down the gauntlet. Or whatever.

  43. nicky

    Twisty: Yes, a zipper on underpants would obviously not work. A zipper on pants might not work, either, comfort-wise. A radical revision in pants design is in order. That’s why I’m thinking some sort of fold-over style with snaps or something. Underpants should be free-foldover. I’d have to revisit my sewing days (which I try to avoid) to come up with a comfortable, woman-anatomy-friendly design. But surely such a thing exists.

  44. BritGirlSF

    What’s the point of carrying a bag if you can’t put a book in it? And where does one put one’s CD/MP3 player? Not to mention the fact that the tiny bag makes the women carrying it look comically huge, as if she stole the bag from some defenceless 8 year old.
    I think it may have something to do with whatever bizarre impulse inspires grown women to festoon their persons with things covered in Hello Kitty logos. I know a 28-year-old woman who has a HK cell phone case, which matches the HK handbag and the HK pens and the HK backpack and the HK makeup bag and so on ad infinitum. I’ve always wondered what the appeal was. There’s something particularly odd about seeing tampons crammed into the tiny Hello Kitty bag.
    I do the bag with a strap across the chest thing. OK, so it looks like a cross your heart bra, but at least I have both hands free.
    One comment about the underwear with snaps at the crotch idea…have any of you actually worn a garment that has snaps at the crotch? It tends to result in little pieces of hard metal rubbing against one’s sensitive areas, and is really quite horribly uncomfortable since you spend much of the day sitting on said bits of hard metal. Not such a great idea, overall.

  45. john_m_burt

    I remember an article on purses — big, voluminous, hold-all-you-own purses — in Ms. magazine, many years ago. It struck a chord with me, as my family were continuingly puzzled by my insistence on carrying my backpack everywhere I went (not considered cool and grown-up back then).

    Now I’m starting nursing school, and find it’s time to move up to the wheeled variety that’s not so muich an oversized purse as a smallish handtruck. Oh, well.

  46. Twisty

    have any of you actually worn a garment that has snaps at the crotch?

    I remember leotard-type things–I forget what they were called–we had to wear in the 80’s with our pouf skirts. They had snaps. Those things fucking sucked hard.

  47. alphabitch

    I never put one of those on in the 80s, but I remember them in the early 70s when I was in about third grade. I had a red one with a turtleneck, that I wore with a pair of cuffed, plaid “elephant pants.” There was this boy in my class who told me that when I wore that shirt I was so beautiful he fell in love with me, and then one day he stole his mother’s wedding ring and tried to give it to me. I threw the ring in the wastebasket and the red turtleneck in the fire when I got home. Our teacher took the ring out the wastebasket, fortunately. The melting, burning nylon fabric of the red turtleneck bodysuit smelled really bad & I got in trouble about it. I haven’t worn one of those stupid things since.

  48. bitchphd

    Well, the bag that is too small to hold a book is definitely a problem (she says, even though her current bag is, indeed, too small to hold a book–but just the right size for a wallet, a notepad, a pack of cigarettes, a change purse, and keys). OTOH, the huge bag is a real problem too, as inevitabely one ends up toting around a ton of crap, simply because one can–and the inevitable, “here, honey, will you carry this?” Plus I hate carrying a damn heavy bag, screw that. I’m a big fan of the medium-sized, structured bag.

  49. Maureen

    Okay, the snaps/zipper/buttons can’t be on the crotch–I’m thinking of a panel of cloth which goes from the back waistband and fastens to the front (and perhaps has dual zippers at the sides, safely away from sensitive areas but still preserving modesty). The underwear, I think, would essentially be a loincloth with little buttons holding it up in “closed” position. (Think of a thong, add an actual back so we don’t have patriarchal ass-floss, and put buttons at the front waistband)

  50. Amanda Marcotte

    Purses are symbolic pussies. Something to consider.

  51. beth

    I have the sneakiest little purse. It looks like a cute patriarchy-approved handbag, a bit bigger than Twisty’s. Yet somehow it manages to carry about ten times its volume in crap. I can throw in my keys, wallet, moleskine, phone, camera, a book, and even a long-sleeved shirt in case I get cold (the kind made of thin fabric). I have no idea how all of that fits in there. And it still has room left.

    But here is the sneakiest part: it has some decorative metal bits on the front. I can carry a strap inside the purse so that, when I don’t feel like holding the handles, I can snap the strap on and carry it over my shoulder or over my chest.

    I lied. That was only the second-sneakiest part. The sneakiest part is this: one of the handles has decorative buckles on it. Miraculously, the decorative buckles ACTUALLY WORK. I can use them to buckle the purse onto my belt, even if I left the shoulder strap at home.

    This bag is magical. It probably also sneaks out at night and blames patriarchy for me while I sleep.

  52. Kyra

    AE–Chopsticks because I stop for Chinese food a lot (takeout) and it usually doesn’t come with a fork that way (although I suppose I could usually get chopsticks from the place I buy the food, but that’s the sort of thing I forget about easily.
    Eye pillow ’cause if I’m not driving, I tend to fall asleep. Or want to. And it’s often too fucking bright out.
    Remember this is the ideal; there is no pair of pants on Earth that can hold all this stuff comfortably. For which various laws of physics are partly to blame, but I’ll just blame the patriarchy ’cause it’s easier.

  53. Ron Sullivan

    Magikmama, why am I thinking of the classic A stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown?

    D.E.I.X.I.S., so what’s this IPEX?

    Ya know, I’m only a B-cup. I skipped bras entirely for years, until I bought a pick-up to carry that occasional yard of compost and my ladders and such. Pick-em-ups have stiff springs, and the streets here have lots of potholes. Ow.

    I guess I was spoiled. That hooks-in-back bullshit, euch. I’ve been wearing something called the Not-A-Bomber Bra from Elita, who used to make these nifty bras in red and all but seem to have cut back to black, white, and buff. The N-A-B has stretchy lace in front, which is a bit less wimpy than their stretchy, um, whatever plain stuff. No hardware; you pull it over your head. Easy.

    But on my income, that damned things are expensive, and they stretch out and get useless in a year or 18 months, probably because you pull it over your head.

    I’m not crazy about those “athletic” bras, probably because I hate for my clothing to be more virtuous than I am. And I really hate it when my paunch looks bigger than my boobs — one of maybe two bits of vanity I have left. I’m ready to improvise something out of Ace bandages.

    Beth, I’d want your bag but I’d be afraid of falling in.

  54. Pinko Punko

    I feel like this thread is a little outside of my expertise. But it reminded me a little of the tiny backpack. So the uniform amongst the Long Island/Staten Island/New Jersey Sorority women at U. Michigan where Pinko suffered through his college situation was:

    spandex pants, longer t-shirt, scrunchie around the wrist and the tiny backpack. since the backpack was so tiny, the hypothesis put forward by myself as a novice unversed in these mysteries was that the only things that could possibly fit in the tiny backpack were:

    a) a diet soda or maybe a snapple. some sort of beverage, perhaps some sort of Gogurt monstrosity.
    b) maybe a pen?
    c) possibly a feminine hygeine product
    d) keys? is a backpack a good place for keys?

    This struck us as possible the height of the patriarchy. The tiny backpack I would suggest is worse that the tiny handbag, although it does leave both hands free, but one is entangled in a scrunchie.

    I would also suggest that this could be another example of the infinite ones on the evil of fashion. Ugh, the tiny backpack.

  55. BritGirlSF

    “Beth, I’d want your bag but I’d be afraid of falling in.”
    Indeed. I’m wondering if Beth’s bag also contains a secret door leading to Narnia. It sounds like she might be hiding entire civilisations in there.

  56. alice

    I tried the Ace bandage thing once, years ago, because I had to be a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding and I was damned if I was going to spend the money for a strapless bra I’d only wear once after already buying the absurd dress and hideous dyed-to-match shoes. My sweetie wrapped me in swaths of bandage, and it worked fine as far as keeping me from flopping around. But it turns out Ace bandages chafe. Maybe we didn’t get it wrapped right. If I had it to do over, I’d start with bandaids over the nipples. But I will never have it to do over, because I will never put on another dress like that, no matter who’s getting married. Why? Because my sweetie later put on the dress and wedged the shoes onto his toes and came clomping out of my closet, and I thought, If HE looks that stupid, how did I look?

  57. Chris Clarke

    La Twisty sez: I remember leotard-type things–I forget what they were called–we had to wear in the 80’s with our pouf skirts

    I see a potential blog masthead redesign here.

  58. ae

    I am crying over here laughing at the idea of snaps at the crotch. Might I suggest marketing this as The Snotch? =D

    I do remember how hawt the snap jobbies on those old-fashioned long johns were.

    Kyra, I just thought chopsticks and the tiny eye pillow were completely inspired. In a perfect world, I would have those two things, too. I like eating w/ chopsticks, and lard knows I’m not terribly interested in driving, so if I’m not immersed in my book/magazine/the scenery, I would prefer to be sleeping. I do have two requirements for bags though: compartments and neatness. I cannot stand a messy bag (hence, the reason I carry only 5 things), and it drives me bananas when people practically fall into their bags and swim around for hours trying to find a piece of glitter or whatever, and then whatever they pull out is covered in the magmatic dust of the Cretaceous Period it’s been in there so long. I mean, really. This is to say, I would need a chopsticks pocket and a place to put my eye pillow. What good would a crusty, crunched eye pillow be? Ugh.

    And these pants rock.

  59. nicky

    The trouble I have with multiply-pocketed pants is that I’d rather carry stuff collectively than wear it. When you sit, don’t you squash whatever’s in your rear pocket? When you stoop down, don’t you risk, for example, stabbing yourself in the thigh with a pencil? If you cross your legs at the ankle, mightn’t you inadvertently activate your cell phone? And so forth. To arise each morning and figure out what physical activities I might be called upon to perform that day, and then sort out and distribute my various must-haves accordingly upon my person, is too terrifying, let alone speculative, to contemplate. Easier, I say, to just dump all possibilities into a roomy shoulder bag and be on your way. And if someone occasionally has to wait 10-15 seconds whilst I rummage, tough shit.

  60. d.e.i.x.i.s.

    The snotch!

    I remember those snap-at-the-crotch bodysuits, too. They fucken sucked. You couldn’t pay me to snap something in my crotch, these days.

    What’s the Ipex, you ask? Jeezus, where have you been? Even Twisty wrote a bit a few months ago condemning it, but I’m guessing she doesn’t have big boobies, so she wouldn’t understand. It’s just this brilliant bra by Victoria’s Secret that distributes weight exceptionally well & it’s really lightweight & not restrictive & everything you ever dreamed a bra could be.

    It’s all well & good for B- cup girls to condemn bras, but when you’re a 38D, you definitely need something holding you up. And you want it to do it well. Which is why I loves me some Ipex.

  61. ae

    Alice, I hear you re: the bridesmaid dress. NEVER will I do that again. It was so bad that my best friend — my best friend!! — cannot keep a straight face talking about it. It has gone down in herstory as a singularly atrocious moment. Gaah. I have considered getting rid of the photographic evidence. And I don’t mean mine.

  62. Mandos

    I didn’t even *know* what an eye pillow was until now (I googled it). My original mental image was a little one-inch square pillow. And my other mental image was of one of you guys with movable eye-stalks, resting one of your perfect spherical eyes on it.

  63. sassycat

    I have about as much desire to carry a purse as I do to blow Pat Buchanan

    I’m mentally blind…..

  64. Carol

    Don’t forget the knitting subpopulation of your blogstalkers. If you can’t fit at least a sock on two circulars in your bag, fuck it.

  65. judy

    these are my favorite pants-casual, but comfy, with large side pockets, no zipper.


  66. BritGirlSF

    d.e.i.x.i.s. , is the Ipex really that comfortable AND supportive? I’ve never been a fan of Victoria’s Secret, not only because of the dumb advertising but because the quality tends to suck.
    I’ve seen the ads and it looks a bit flimsy for those of us in the D-cup range.

  67. d.e.i.x.i.s.

    The Ipex really IS that comfortable and supportive. Even for those of us in the D-range. With every other bra I own, I always need to put on a bra-top with it for the extra support & to try to make sure it doesn’t shift around as much. With the Ipex, I can just put a shirt right on over it & be confident that it’s going to stay put & do its job.

    Yes, the ads were dumb, but the product is solid.

  68. magikmama

    Um – about the IPEX – does it ACTUALLY come in a D- or a Victoria’s secret D, which as far as I can make out is really just an extra-perky C? Also – do they make it in a 40 band, or do they cut it off at 38? I might be tempted to try one on if they have a real, honest to goodness, 40D.

  69. Josef K

    Slimming magazines frequently suggest carrying a clutch bag to soirees, because you can’t hold your bag and a plate and a glass and eat off the plate, so you “resist temptation” and leave the soiree without eating anything. NOOOO!! What’s the point of soirees, if not to eat and drink as much as physically possible? If you can’t do that, you end up, y’know, having to *talk* to people.

  70. Mandos

    Ewww, people.

  71. Carol

    Other people ruin everything.

  72. sarahsarah

    Friends, may I suggest a red and fuschia polka-dot Marimekko messenger bag? It’s hot, it’s comfortable, and it performs the following functions:
    – Holds wallet, cell phone, a whole bottle of Xanax, and as many tampons as you want to carry.
    – Can carry (for you lit crit scholars) all the Adorno, Foucault, Kristeva and Butler (although I prefer Elizabeth Grosz) you need.
    – Also holds your lunch, and a large bottle of water.
    – Machine washable with water-proof liner.
    – Could be a diaper bag if you’re so inclined.
    – So brightly colored it’s unlikely you’ll leave it anywhere.
    – Condoms floating around in there somewhere. Wrapped, of course. On that note, also holds toothbrush and a change of clothes.
    If any of you live in Metro Detroit, keep an eye out for the bag and me.

  73. Miriam

    Yeah… the IPEX bra sounds worth a try on…. if they made it in my necessary 32C size… bastards! And don’t say that a 34 B will work just as well… it won’t. I’ve tried. It always ends up riding up in a very unflattering way… making me the amazing quadruple breasted woman.

  74. Ledasmom

    Heck, Carol, I do my socks on one circular and I can fit them in my pocket, except that since I like to knit my ribbing on 000s they poke me in the thigh. In this context, and to tie-in with the bra theme, there’s the lady who snipped the nipple regions off a large bra, put a ball of yarn in each cup and wore it over her clothes so she could knit while walking. If one wore the bra under one’s clothes instead, this would look like one’s breasts were unravelling.

  75. ae

    Sassycat, apologies for the graphic nature of the Buchanan reference, but you can see the vehemence w/ which I decry the purse phenomenon! Bleeaaarrgghhh.

    Josef K, Mandos, Carol, hopefully we’ll get stuck at a soiree together so we can partake of the nibbles and talk about how much we hate talking to people. Frickin’ people. Other people are hell, quite obviously.

    SarahSarah, I don’t think I’ve read much Grosz. Thinking of reading either Sexual Subversions: Three French Feminists, or Space, Time and Perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies. Any suggestions?

  76. Veronica

    On the topic of snap-crotch pants, there are such pants worn since gods-know-when by Japanese women working in the rice paddies called monpe, that doesn’t have any metal or plastic parts rubbing your sensitive parts. They’re extremely loose fitting, that crossed-over around the hips and tied at the waist. The idea was(and still is, I guess) that you can open the pants at the crotch to pee in the fields standing up(ladies, it is possible) without any time-loss by having to pull your pants down and squat. I’m sure other countries in the Asian reigion have variations on the same design concept. The only problem with wearing these nowadays is that western-style toilets are not designed for women pissing standing up, but very useful when working in the fields or camping or trying to get to El Paso from SA on I-10 in record time.

  77. Josef K

    ae, I’d love to see you at the next soiree I’m forced to attend.

    Veronica, at the Reading Festival (a British rock festival) this summer, they were handing out “urinelles”. A cone-shaped thingummy made from plastic-coated cardboard, which enables women to wee standing up. On the first day, everybody was squeamish and wouldn’t use them, but by the last day everyone was sold on the idea. Then they ran out, of course. Also known as a She-Pee.

  78. Jenny

    Yeah, the damn She-Pee made me piss all down both my legs.

  79. Josef K

    I’ve done that without the aid of a She-Pee, when drunkenly, in the dark, using a festival toilet without realising that the seat lid was still down.

  80. Nadia

    It takes two to play the Hegemonic Handbag of Uselessness game.

    I blame the women who have nothing better to do than lie in wait for a mate!

  81. The Doom of Fools

    So, you’re angry because you were silly enough to go out and buy a stupid, useless bag? I would be too, if I found that a product I had purchased was so useless as you make this one out to be. I would not be inclined to blame some nebulous social order for my woes however…
    No offense intended of course, but could I perhaps suggest that the use of such bags is an option, not a requirement, and certainly not some patriarchal conspiracy.
    Or maybe I am missing something.

  82. acm

    it’s all about framing — instead of thinking of this as an Incapacitated Bookbag/Backpack (in which case the smallness is incomprehensible), think of it as an Externalized Pocket (and thus a blow against the misogynist designers who make women’s pants and skirts without a useful pocket), which can thus hold the credit cards, keys, and lipstick that you would otherwise stow in reasonably made clothing. now it’s a way to fight back, not to be kept down! that’s what I use them for. (if I need to haul more stuff, then it’s a stylish shoulder bag or shlumpy tote instead.)

  83. Sara

    On the issue of man-bags:

    I like to call anyone’s man-bag his “scrotum.” First of all, scrota are amongst of the most objectively funny body parts (others include the spleen and the uvula), and secondly, the scrotum is the most manly of all bags in existence. Now, for the sake of parity, I’ll have to start calling my vagina my “purse.”

  84. The Countess

    I decided that if I was going to be a tool for the patriarchy, I was going to wear a black leather backpack instead of tote around a teeny handbag. That patriarchal tool designed to turn on 16 year old boys – Lara Croft – wore one in all the Tomb Raider games. So I wear a black leather backpack with my black clothes. I can be a tool for the patriarchy and look like I’d kick your scrawny ass at the same time. Works for me.

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