May 19 2007

Old bag’s lament

This bag was no good because once I got a niece or two stuffed in there, there was hardly any room for a box of Altoids.

I spent a quarter of a century on a quest. That quest was for a partner in greatness. A decent shoulder bag.

“Say, this one looks pretty good,” I’d say, giving it an affectionate chuck under the buckle. “Look! It’s got gussets!”

I’d use it for a month or so, but inevitably it would reveal itself lacking some essential detail. My spirits would flag.

“Face it, ” my friends would say. “The blush is off the rose.”

But would I listen? No. We would solider on together, the bag inflicting on me its crappy design, me in denial, but eventually the fact of its mediocrity — its lack of a proper handle or its inconvenient zipper or its failure to accommodate some large necessity — would harbinge irreconcilable differences. Whereupon, as I had done a thousand times before with its legion of predecessors, I would relieve it of its contents and chuck it, deflated and tragic, onto the corpse pile in the bag-morgue.

I kept expecting that if I were dogged enough, and did not give up the hunt, that sooner or later, among so many mortal terrestrial bags, we would find each other: me, full of love’s young dream, and it, gleaming with capaciousness and convenience. When I held it aloft, assessing its weight-to-ugliness ratio, it would speak in silvery tones the promise that though I might stuff it full of camera lenses and squirt guns, it would never conceal from me my ringing cell phone until after it had gone to voicemail.

Finally I went mad. To the last bag that sang to me of special water bottle pockets and a laptop-cozy, I retorted, “But that is the promise that all bags speak, so that I will be mesmerized and take them home! But once we are together, yet I do fear their nature! For their foul design is to their perverse will mine own should crimp! You are like unto god-bags, all!”

After many years, I now realize that what I really need is a burro.

The bag that will hold my all my spinster aunt tackle, a weeks’ worth of supplies and a jet-pak, and be weightless, does not exist in this dimension. Its inside would have to be bigger than its out, and it would have to be exempt from the gravitational pull of this or any other planet, and it would have to jive aesthetically with my 80’s hair band T-shirts.

I bore you with this pathetic preamble because it mirrors my search for reasonable allusions to feminism in the mainstream media. I keep looking, looking, and sometimes I think I’ve found something, but what I get is bupkis. This morning the only thing in my inbox tagged ‘feminist’ was this:

“We’ve been taught for centuries to be glad to get the crumbs. F&%# that! I’m a feminist (and) any woman in the year 2007 who says she’s not a feminist is either a f*%$in’ moron or has been living under a rock for the past 2000 years.” — Ellen Barkin on girl power.

Nice. A celebrity suggesting that an antifeminist can survive under a rock for millennia, the editorial sanitization of “fuck” to “F&%#”, and the infantilization of feminism to ‘girl power.’

And now, I’m off to find a movie that doesn’t portray women exclusively in terms of men. That movie does not exist in this dimension, so I will have to settle for one in which the male hero doesn’t force the fragile girl, who has just stumbled in her high heels and pencil skirt, to hold his hand while they run run run across the rocky terrain.


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  1. kiki

    This is the kind of bag I carry. It holds a ton, doesn’t hurt my back and it has a nifty cell phone pocket that rests on the chest so that your phone is always accessible. Because the phone rests on my chest I can just have it on vibrate with no ringer. I hate ring tones.

  2. Errihu

    I have my pale blue and white packsack which can fit my laptop and all it’s accoutrements, 5 days worth of clothing, and a few tawdry fantasy novels with a handful of cubic inches left over for some other vital substance. It’s also easy on the back, with its two shoulder straps. However, it does look rather like pyjamas in its colouration (as my Nice Young Chap has remarked) and it is of course a signal to the rest of society that I am a Student, with all the attendant assumptions that go with that.

    It’s a near impossible task to find a movie (or a book for that matter) that doesn’t kowtow to the usual gender assumptions of women as existing for men. I’ve been a fan of Mercedes Lackey (an author), who if she doesn’t disrupt patriarchy as much as perhaps is possible, at least PROBLEMATIZES patriarchal thinking.

  3. Virago

    Nice bag, kiki, but does it hold a small child and a tin of Altoids?

    There is no such thing as the perfect prefabricated bag, but a few years back at the Nike website you could design and build your own custom bag (or at least have third-world women and children build it for you) for roughly one zillion dollars. Tempting, huh?

  4. Jeanne

    Don’t get me started on the bag thing. I mentioned earlier that I’m a road warrior, but I neglected to mention that I’m also a road warrior who likes to travel light (as in, minimal carryon luggage.) When I started my new job, I embarked on a quest for a bag that would hold my laptop and all its peripherals, a couple of manila folders, my wallet, my iPod, my phones, and a few other sundry things that I normally tote around in my purse (tissues, tampons, what have you.) It also had to coordinate relatively well with my work wardrobe and not be obscenely heavy when full of my stuff.

    It was a difficult search, but I did find one, finally. It even came with a small matching clutch-type bag that I can put my ID, money, and credit cards in when I’m just running out for a bite or something.

    Twisty, I share your thought that the search for a good bag mirrors the often-fruitless search for authentic examples of feminism in the media. On both fronts, I’ve often felt like I’ll never find just what I need. Occasionally, though, when I least expect it, something perfect materializes. Doesn’t happen nearly often enough, though!

  5. Artemis

    Your writing is like some kind of beautiful and powerful piece of live sculpture that I want to stare at and get all up next to.

    This piece especially – a sculpted pictorial narrative experience thing that makes me laugh at the same time it pulls me into its depths while it’s making me fall in love at the same time it’s a thunder clap that re-opens my eyes to the wider world.

    That’s some good art.

    [And I’m grateful for the chance to experience it, thanks.]

  6. ladoctorita

    Timbuk2 messenger bags come in some pretty gargantuan sizes, and can be custom-colored for maximal aesthetic jiving. However, you’d probably have to sell one of those nieces to be able to afford one.

    Also, a hearty second to Artemis. “A sculpted pictorial narrative experience thing,” indeed.

  7. Rugosa

    I’m a backpack user. I finally found one that is as nearly perfect as any – a good old, inexpensive Jansport with lots o’ pockets for books and provisions, and a water bottle holder that actually works to keep my gloves handy. (I use public transport and there’s lots of donning and doffing involved.) The downside is that I look like Quasimodo with this enormous thing on my back, but I can’t figure out how to reduce the amount of stuff I need with me at all times.

  8. josquin

    Chiaroscuro/cuteness/completely charming!
    What a delighful photo.
    And, you are right: no such bag exists. Let the dream go.
    As for the stilleto heel-wearing, rocky-terrain-running hero’s fragile sidekick, YEAH. Every time I see that stupid scene in a movie I just want to say to the director, you moron, I’d like to see you try to run like that in those stupid clothes WHILE HOLDING SOME IDIOT’S HAND.
    (Sorry to resort to caps)
    I await the day when said woman ditches the shoes and tight skirt, slaps the idiot’s hand away, and runs like hell out right out of the stupid movie.

  9. Sniper

    There is no true bag, only the eternal quest.

    What I need is a bag that doubles as file cabinet and a refrigerator. For some reason that doesn’t exist either.

  10. Meliors

    I just finished making an artist’s book inspired in part by my capacious bum bag (fanny pack to Americans, but when New Zealanders say fanny we mean vagina so we don’t call them that here).

    “My,that’s a big bag you have,” he said.
    “Why yes,” I replied.
    “I carry it to engender opportunities
    for saying capacious”.
    – The Capacious Book of Powerful Words.

    My current letterpress project has been thoroughly influenced by two years of lurking, laughing and crying at I blame the patriarchy. cf

    “Use Pornography – Let capitalism commodify all your desires.”
    – Addicted to Capitalism

  11. Pinko Punko

    You need a T.A.R.D.I.S. bag. Or at least a bag that doesn’t have the zippers clinkety clink so that all the dogs in a neighborhood think you are an approaching dog and must be wary of your presence. The only benefit of said bag is that the boys (arf arf) know when I am coming home and can bestow some unquestioning affection.*

    *Yes, I realize that they are genetically compelled to feel this way having been the dark product of selfish human manipulation, and that they live a life of captivity, opulent though it be. I forget these arguments for a small moment.

  12. Theriomorph

    Third what Artemis said.

    That’s some fine essay, Twisty.

    How excellent it would be to hear this one on NPR, in some general essays about living slot: trick them in, knock them down, leave ’em awake.

    I love your writing.

  13. LMYC

    That’s why Mother Nature invented the sewing machine. And quilt batting. And fat quarters. That way, a blamer can ALWAYS have her cellphone, ipod, checkbook, keys, and a couple dozen packets of origami paper on hand (for when those OCD moments strike).

  14. Kristina

    So this might be interesting to no one except me, BUT: Twisty, you have definitively provided empirical, economic proof of the patriarchy. If we are a market economy, and the market always adjusts to fulfill our needs (this invisible hand hovering over us all), then WHY is it we cannot find: shoes we want, bags we want, shirts we want, swimsuits we want, jeans that fit, and movies we want to watch.

    Obscure class of consumers, one posits? Nay, that has already been addressed by “The Long Tail.”

    There is only one thing to blame. Let me hit that button.

  15. Spinning Liz

    Let me hold that imp of a niece for you while you go watch Antonia’s Line again.

  16. Sara

    So cute! And yes, the lighting is fantastic. Except for the fact of the modern handbag, it looks like a Victorian portrait.

  17. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Oh dear, is Twisty divorcing her bag?

    My purse collection in no way mirrors my shoe collection, because generally I hate purses. I’m also absent-minded and tend to leave them all over the place, along with my umbrellas.

    For many years I had a little wallet on my keychain and that was IT. After hauling a diaper bag around for three years I decided I liked my hands free.

    Totes worked when I was in night school, but stuff always fell out of them when I threw them into the car. Unfortunately I don’t “do” zippers, or what I call “the Jaws that Ate Manhattan.” Ouchie. Few of my purses have zippers on them.

    Then I found THE PERFECT BAG. God/dess help me it was a Coach. Unfortunately they are ghastly expensive, and this one was the ghastliest of all because it was so big that it could double as a briefcase or even a suitcase (it’s great for airplane travel). The leather was durable but floppy, and there were NO stupid logos on this bag, just plain dark brown leather. It closed with a flap and a big brass hook thingy. It had a WIDE, padded, adjustable strap that didn’t pinch my shoulder. I could throw it into a trunk and nothing would fall out of it.

    I couldn’t afford it. I walked out of the store and pined for it for weeks. Then one day I received a Coach bag as a gift from a man I was dating, a small version of the one I wanted. In desperation I ran to the store the very next day to trade it in for the big bag. I bought the display bag because it was the only one left. Since I have a shopping addiction (obviously) I just whipped out my VISA for the remaining balance.

    I never regretted it. I never lost my cell phone or my keys in it, either. It’s the Perfect Bag. The more beat up it gets the better I like it. I’ll never divorce it, so I’ll never need to buy another purse again.

    But I bought the last one, sorry? EBay? This is what it looks like:


  18. BubbasNightmare

    Save Bambi Meets Godzilla, I cannot think of a movie that meets your criteria (assuming the not-totally unreasonable assumption, of course, that Godzilla is female).

    If they ever make a movie version of Promethea and surgically excise the fairly minimal Bimbo Effect stuff, you’d likely get at least your Heart’s Desire’s third cousin. However, the comic as written is unfilmable, and men control the Movie Entertainment Industry’s purse strings, so it ain’t ever gonna happen.

  19. Belle O'Cosity

    Twisty you have such a great eye. I wish you would have a show, seriously. Your pics are art-worthy. Please consider it. I love your blaming, but I think you are an artist. Bags, god-bags, blah ba blah, art. Ok, I hate art, but I know it when I see it.

  20. Valkyrie

    Synchronicity indeed! I found the perfect Coach backpack/bag at a yard sale this morning – way cheap and in perfect condition. For this I do not BTP but TTG.

  21. Artemis

    Nay, all movies are not made by straight, white, rich men in Hollywood (and all its patriarchal imitators world-wide). There are small-budget gems being made daily by smart radical talented women all over the world, you just have to know where to find them (and it ain’t at the Megamaleplex at the mall).

    Speaking of little films, how about “By Hook or By Crook” (by Harry Dodge & Silas Howard)?

  22. ramou

    You need a T.A.R.D.I.S. bag.

    We need a female Dr. Who

  23. ramou

    reading the comment threads there made me want to cry:

    NO! No female Doctor. The Doctor is a dude, dude. I /will/ stop watching if they do that…–Some ass

    My little bit of fun, so quickly dashed upon the rocks :(

  24. Rain

    THP, that was the exact same bag that I fell in
    love with, too! I had to give it up, though
    because I’m only 5 ft tall, and when I tried it
    out at the store, it looked like I was the one
    being carried around by the bag. Not to mention
    the insane pricetag. I also have to commute to
    work on over-crowded trains in Tokyo, and that bag
    would’ve taken up too much space. It sure was
    a thing of beauty, though.
    I found a nice Italian alternative that’s much
    better suited to my height and financial situation,
    and am quite happy with that for going to work.
    Any other times, I just stuff money, lipbalm, keys,
    phone and asthma meds in my baggy jean pockets and
    enjoy the freedom of not having to carry around a

  25. Sylvanite

    I just read a science-fiction novel that features the projected future technology to essentially have a Portable Hole contained as pockets in clothing. The novel also almost, almost, managed to picture a post-patriarchal society. It sort of whiffed it in the end, alas.

  26. Claire

    You made me giggle twice whilst hungover. Thank you.

  27. Mildred Fierce

    Build it and they will come. Design it and we will buy. Seriously! IBTP brand (I BAG the Patriarchy).

  28. roamaround

    That is an adorable niece photo. What an amazing expression.

    No strong feelings on bags at the moment, though I do hate when they fall off my shoulder. Burros are the answer! I just told my car guys yesterday if gas prices keep climbing I’ll get me one.

  29. MzNicky

    Is that child curling her upper lip? She looks like she’s thinking, “Uh, hello, I’m sitting here in a bag.”

  30. rafalah

    Like Hedonistic Pleasureseaker, I gave up carrying as soon as my children were old enough to shoulder their own necessities. I spent a few years pocketing an ID, a few dollars and an OB tampon when I needed to. (I am still fighting the cell phone fad.)

    Traveling is still a problem. I need music, literature, medication, note book paper, pens, neck pillow, socks, ID’s, money. Anything weighing over 5 pounds (?) feels too heavy. I suppose that isn’t the bags problem–but more of what I try to cram into it.

    I am also on a quest for a life that is so simple a casual sack can contain all I need.

    Like Twisty, I listlessly puruse media for some form of entertainment that does not offend me or bore me. I can’t even recall the last DVD/Video I finished watching.

  31. Erin

    Just delurking to say that this post brightened a difficult day. Thank you. I love your posts and envy your style of writing. P.S. I’ve had little luck finding a comfortable bag that holds everything. In the end, I settled.

  32. su

    Second that – harbinge a delightful verb. I note in the magazine section of our godawful national daily this weekend that all articles were about the incipient divinity of various powerful men and the only mention of women was in the context of the nightmare inducing term m.i.l.f.

  33. slythwolf

    I found a fantastic bag a couple of years ago for $6 on clearance at my place of employment; it has little compartments for everything I need up to and including pens, a loop to hook my keys on, a zippered compartment for loose change, a little pocket for the cellphone, and latching pockets on either end where I keep mints and gum. I loved it so much I bought two–one in red, one in tan. They’re excellent. The only part that sucks is when I feel like switching colours and have to transfer all my stuff.

    Lately I have been buying cheap cotton yarn and knitting these excellent little string shopping bags, with which I plan to descend on my local farmer’s market when it opens next weekend, so as to return laden with all kinds of farm-fresh produce and then cook myself something tasty. I figure these things will also be useful for excursions to the beach, if I have time for that sort of thing this summer, because they’re not likely to get full of sand and will dry out quickly when wet, and can be bleached to within an inch of their miserable lives without losing durability.

    I’m thinking of sending some to my relatives. I’m sure Mom would love it, although my sister would probably tell me they are tacky (and go on to entreat me to wax my eyebrows and cut my hair and buy all my clothes at Express and generally capitulate both to the patriarchy and to the corporate machine, and by the way why aren’t we closer? Her husband’s siblings are soooooo close, why can’t we be like that?).

  34. thebewilderness

    I was rummaging in the updated FAQ, where I found and want to thank you for the Clever Keys software link.

  35. kathy a

    oh, yeah — the updated FAQ is excellent! [i disagree personally with the part about capitalization on the ground that i have to fucking capitalize my work product, and the work, it stinks of the patriarchy. please consider this my personal eccentricity of long standing, grounded properly in blaming.]

    but on to the bags. i had a good and loyal bag, once in the distant past, but it betrayed me by wearing out after only 6 years or so of constant use. wimp. the most recent candidate is losing a strap after only a couple of years, and it really did not offer what i need in terms of space, pockets, and accessibility that also minimizes spillage in the event of droppage. i fear the worst, that i’ll have to visit a major department store, only to settle on another inferior product so that i do not have to keep looking.

  36. Urban

    THP, my partner just bought himself a bag that looks almost exactly like yours except without the gold hooky-clip thing. I love it, and when he gets fed up with it (inevitable) I plan to appropriate it. I would go and buy one for myself, but having his/hers matching bags is too awful to consider.

    As for decent feminist writing in the media, I think Kira Cochrane is quite good. She used to write for the New Statesman and is now at the Guardian.

  37. Theriomorph

    I Bag The Patriarchy!


  38. Patti

    I don’t know where you stand on gore and zombies, but in 28 Weeks Later, the men ignore the really smart woman and very bad things happen as a result.

  39. Lauredhel

    Meliors: “when New Zealanders say fanny we mean vagina”

    Does it mean “vagina” over there? In my West-Island dialect I’ve always taken it to mean “vulva”.

  40. Narya

    I love my Trager bags (tragerusa dot com). I now have three: the big messenger bag I mostly use, because I can fit a day’s worth (or two) of crap in it, a very small bag that fits a book, ipod, keys, tampons, etc. (it has pockets!), and a more conventional office-going type bag. They all perform wonderfully, are sturdy, have useful pockets, etc.

  41. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    One more thing:

    When I was a young preggers shopping for a diaper bag, all they seemed to have in the store were dippy pink, blue, and yellow diaper ones. My (ex) husband and I finally settled on one from Lands End because it was chock full of features and they were cool-looking enough that Dad could carry it around without feeling like a dork. Of course he rarely ever did: I carried it around along with my briefcase and other stuff, while he walked three to five paces ahead of me parading Bunny or enjoying a hands-free existence. I felt like his personal servant and for that IBTP.

    What’s my freaking point already. Oh, yeah: Now they make diaper bags that look really really cool, not like diaper bags at all. Space age fabrics, lean designs and dignified colors. And pockets, oh, the pockets! and the little hooky thingy that holds keys so the don’t get lost! and a place for the cell phone! and the bottle holders hold water bottles! If I were a photographer I’d buy one of those. Seriously.

  42. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Oh, and one more thing: 14 years later that Lands End diaper bag is still used as an overnight bag by Bunny! It’s still in good shape!

  43. b-file

    i found the perfect bag. well, for me anyways.

    where did i find this wonderful peice of NON pink, sturdy strapped, multi-pocketted, carryall goodness? in the men’s department at target. i was looking for decent socks to wear with my bike boots under a skirt(found them in the men’s department too)…
    and yes, you can put a three ring binder in it along with all the other stuff you may need.

    i need lots of stuff when i’m stressed.

  44. CannibalFemme

    I do apologize for the OT, but I had to come here for a moment of glee-sputtering, because I just found out about the Johns Hopkins study on HPV and throat cancer–you know, the one that indicates that not only women’s lives are at stake. I am now waiting for the radical right to do the hokey-pokey, and turn themselves about.

    This concludes this moment of OT squee. I now return you to your regularly scheduled blaming and bagging.

    On bags: best one I ever had I made myself, from a pair of my Mom’s embroidered jeans. I miss that bag.

  45. Mar Iguana

    “If we are a market economy, and the market always adjusts to fulfill our needs (this invisible hand hovering over us all), then WHY is it we cannot find: shoes we want, bags we want, shirts we want, swimsuits we want, jeans that fit, and movies we want to watch.”

    Because the bottomline is not money, it is men. This is the reality Steinam found when trying to sell ad space for Ms Magazine years ago.

  46. Mar Iguana

    Oops. Blamed too soon. The above quote is by Kristina

  47. Medbh

    Twisty, rent Clare Boothe Luce’s “The Women.”
    Sure, it’s all about men, but no man appears on screen and the actors and dialogue are snappy and strong. Rosalind Russell as Sylvia Fowler is a scream.

  48. jc.

    Last year I read and totally empathized with a similiar despairing entry in “but she´s a girl” blog. In between that blog entry and yours I purchased and treated to a long exotic trip to foreign climes yet another shoulder bag which is now hanging in disgrace with all the other shoulder bags I´ve purchased.
    Just as I, usually, firmly believe that humankind will someday live in peace, freedom and great fulfilling individual joyful fullfilling diversity, I also believe that somewhere there´s a bag that won´t continually slide off my shoulder and will carry logically and conveniently my ancient cannon camera, mucho film, whatever notebook, book and sundries are needed for the days situation and allow me to happily clamber over ruins, lay on the ground or walk for hours on streets unknown.
    Said bag will never fall into a canal during photographing, snag on transportation doors or allow itself to be forgotten in places of sustenance. It will not need to strangle me to be transported and every thing in it will have it´s own clever and easily found place which will not be a big free for all jumble at the bottom of the bag.
    But at the moment I mostly feel exactly as you describe and that this vision is only lies and will never ever be satisfied.
    But I know in my bitter heart somewhere out there lurks yet another bag which I´ll purchase freely and with joy in my heart hoping that this time, yes this time, things wil be different.

  49. LouisaMayAlcott

    I’ve gone through all the bags, and now in my old age have settled on a backpack. I don’t enjoy either solution, but the backpack sure does the job without straining my musculature.

    20 lb of groceries. Or: notebook computer and clothes & toiletries for 5 days.

  50. lawbitch

    What a darling little girl. Nice to take a brake from blaming to appreciate this cutie.

  51. lawbitch

    D’oh! “brake” should be “break.” More coffee!!!!

  52. RadFemHedonist

    I don’t understand this bag thing. I’ve always used a rucksack, they seem to work fine, plus a bumbag. Does everyone here use a shoulder bag or something, ’cause I always found them a pain.

  53. Garnigal

    I thought you might be interested in this.

    I know you get inundated with links and articles, but I found it interesting and well-written.


  54. thebewilderness

    Rotel appears to have decorated her lips with a red substance.

  55. Rugosa

    b-file, it drives me crazy that products for women are such crap, and so expensive. I often buy things like sweaters in the men’s section, because they are designed for people with shoulders and are made of better fabrics. T-shirts, too. You can buy 3 fruit-of-the-looms for the cost of one woman’s T, and they last for just about ever. If my feet were just a little bigger, I’d buy men’s shoes and sneakers, too. A friend of mine does that, and actually has room for all five toes.

  56. LouisaMayAlcott


    The boys & youths sizes form a continuum with the men’s sizes. Try the largest boys size. Same quality as the mens.

    I never wear women’s shoes unless I’m getting really well paid to do so. It makes no sense.

  57. Dr. Helmet Breath

    Oh dear lord, that child is adorable… and so ready-to-tote!

  58. RadFemHedonist

    I’ve always worn men’s shoes, they’re much comfier than women’s, my clothes are… I can’t remember, I haven’t clothes shopped in ages. All my clothes are amazingly comfortable and fit really well, only thing is one or two require a belt.

  59. kathy a

    rotel is the cute!

    i have a vivid memory of my youngest cousin when he was small, doing a trick perpetrated on him by his idiot father. cousin would curl up inside a soft-sided suitcase, and uncle would zip him up, pick up the suitcase, and head out to the testosterone-mobile. ha ha ha. i think this traumatized my cousin, who is now approaching normal a few decades later.

  60. Kristina

    where did i find this wonderful peice of NON pink, sturdy strapped, multi-pocketted, carryall goodness? in the men’s department at target.

    “Man bags” have only been popular for what, 5 years now? And they already have superior bags that are more comfortable and better made?

    Blame. Blame! BLAME!

  61. RW

    Incidental cost of gender —
    Since any bag I carry becomes a purse, and a purse makes me gay, and being gay makes me sign for woman, and signing for woman means you get to be discounted, beat up and raped, I carry all my shit in a wallet the size of new hampshire.

    Yes, there are more persuasive calls to arms.

  62. goblinbee

    Twisty: “Nice. A celebrity suggesting that an antifeminist can survive under a rock for millennia,…”

    I’m not understanding this critique of the Barkin quote (unless it was tongue-in-cheek). Wasn’t Barkin just saying that any woman who is not a feminist has had her head in the sand; has not been paying attention? I don’t know the context for the quote, but it seems like an off-the-cuff remark, with a bit of hyberbole for good measure.


  63. deja pseu

    I’ll cop to being a bit of a bag junkie. Twisty, have you checked out this bag?

    It has that great combination of large main compartment and lots of outside pockets for cell phones and lens tissues and such.

  64. alphabitch

    Surely the adorable niece’s dress has a pocket or two? If you put the tin of Altoids in her pocket, and her in the bag, you are good to go.

    I too have been searching nearly all my life for the perfect handbag. I’m not a girly girl at all, but somehow I have one entire closet given entirely over to shoes and limited-use handbags. I’ve tried the messenger bags, and the coach bags, and the backpacks, and the fanny packs/bum bags and the cute little bags and the capacious handbags. I kind of miss the old red rip-stop nylon Ciao! bag I had back in the 1970s.

    My current default bag, however, is one I bought at a music festival about 20 years ago to carry all the CDs I absolutely had to buy and that wouldn’t fit in the teeny handbag I had with me at the time: it’s a woven Guatemalan fabric bag with a very long strap, so it can be worn across the chest like a messenger bag, but it rides a bit lower; it’s big enough for a couple of manila folders, all my keys, wallets, iPods, a newspaper, a magazine or two, a paperback, a snack, and a coupla beverages. Plus a month’s worth of unpaid bills. And it’s almost weightless when empty. I paid 12 bucks for it and I wish I could find another, as it’s getting kind of ratty and I’m afraid it will break soon. I wish I had bought ten of them.

    If I had a niece, however, she would not fit inside it.

  65. anarkallisti

    This is about as close to the one true bag as I’ve ever come.
    I carry the rucksack, but the messenger bag is probably big enough to carry a laptop and at least one niece. They do smell a little funny at first because they’re tire-rubber, but I didn’t find it too offensive.

  66. Alice

    I find the trick to bags is to keep anything that’s actually important in your pockets. Then you don’t have to interact with the bag itself all day, it’s just there in case of emergency. It has no chance to piss you off, rendering it impotent.

  67. Twisty

    “I find the trick to bags is to keep anything that’s actually important in your pockets. Then you don’t have to interact with the bag itself all day, it’s just there in case of emergency. It has no chance to piss you off, rendering it impotent. ”

    Alice, you have just blown my mind.

    It’s so simple! I will just keep my niece in my pocket.

  68. Loosely Twisted

    I am glad I hadn’t taken a drink when I read Twist’s reply. That was quite humerous!!

    I am still searching for the perfect bag as well..

    I gave up along time ago.

  69. Anastasia B.

    I agree with Alice, although I substituted “the menz” each time she said “bag” and am good to go.

  70. alphabitch

    I totally agree with Alice — when I am walking home late at night or someplace where I might actually set the handbag down, all essentials (wallet, keys, smokes, etc.) go into my pockets or to a small bag that I can keep wearing. I was mugged once, and very happy that all the bastards stole was my book, newspaper, magazine, and a few groceries. I was pretty pissed about the coffee and the half & half but I got over it. I had my money and my keys. I hate to think what would have happened if I’d had a niece in the bag, however. Don’t even want to go there. Though if I had a niece or two in the bag, I like to think they’d have caused some trouble for the thieving bastard scum.

  71. Jacinta

    I have found the perfect bag to be an all black bag from slapperbags.com. Simple, roomy and stylish.

  72. trystero49

    What a lovely picture! I too am pining for the proper bag. Besides weightless, it must be able to hold both a laptop and my lunch, as well as perhaps some novels or student papers. My current messenger bag is a canvas one from Fossil, and it was very nice, and sized proportionate to my short stature, but it wore through and got all raggedy very fast. I think I’m back to either dead cow or petroleum-based materials for my next bag despite their drawbacks.

  73. trystero49

    Oh, and I wanted to add that I just saw _Queen Christina_ — the film with Garbo — last week. It’s got its problems, but it’s definitely not the typical damsel-in-distress film, either.

  74. Cara-he

    The only real problem I have with the pocket solution is that all my pants have pathetically small pockets. Naturally IBTP for the fact that women’s pockets are meant to be decorative only, whereas men get delightfully roomy pockets – and pants with roomy enough thighs to allow for pocket fillage. Unfortunately the solution of buying men’s pants does not work for me. They simply will not accomodate my waist-to-hip-to-crotch ratio without looking terribly vulgar.
    My current solution is canvas Trader Joe’s bags for large items and maternity dresses a size too large into which homemade pockets of profound adequacy can be inserted as needed. I shudder to contemplate the day when my boss realizes that I am not actually as generous around the middle as my extremely comfortable and modest AND adorable dresses make me appear. Given our dress code, I fear I may be forced to either buy “normal” clothes or become pregnant in self-defense.

  75. Gertrude Strine

    There’s no hope of a bag-for-the-common-old-bag solution because there’s no common old bag.

    Having realised this some few years ago, and also having a desire to see patriarchal petrochemical plastics put to better use than getting Mrs Four-wheel-drive’s carefully chosen non-choices from the checkout to the boot and then going on to choke some drain or strangle some fish – – I carry stuff in a kind of limp posy of re-used supermarket plastic bags.
    These flaccid artefacts of ancient shopping expeditions oblige my searches by revealing the outline of their contents while still protecting them from the elements.
    I’m pretty much immune from bag-snatching because who wants to nick stuff from an old bag-lady.
    No problem if the mobile phone rings – it’s the one in the blue bag.

    By the way, I landed on the posy of plastic solution while in the deepest episode of chemo-noggin, so I’m not so sure about it being so bad.
    I think.

  76. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    I’m an unregenerate bag junkie. They’re my guilty pleasure. Up until recently, I’ve been a Coach addict (they hold a lot, you can get compartmentalized ones, and they improve with age). But last month I dredged up an old tote of my mom’s from in the basement. It’s as red as the side of an old barn and holds all my necessaries, including lunch.

    I’ve never tried toting toddlers in it, but I believe they should be taught to walk as soon as possible, in preparation for teaching them to use the bathroom by themselves.

    I’ve survived to the age of 47 without a cell phone and do not intend to take up such a habit anytime in the foreseeable future.

  77. TinaH

    I have bursitis in my shoulder, and therefore no longer carry a bag. However, I roll one along. It’s as big as a house and squeals when rolled, giving folks plenty of warning that I’m coming and they’d better watch out! I’ve had it since before 9/11, and it’s only just starting to look a little beat up. http://backpacks-luggage.freeworldz.net/Jourdan-Ballistic-Nylon-Wheeled-Computer-Case-10278.html

    LMYC: Are you a fellow quilter? I am taking a break from hand appliqueing my first ever Baltimore Album reproduction quilt to whip up a Yuletide log cabin for my beloved Aunt DeDe.

    Fat Quarters are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

  78. Orange

    Check out 1154 Lill Studio for customized bags. Alas, you can’t add pockets or closures they haven’t assigned to a particular bag style, but you can choose the fabrics yourself and mix and match (or clash artistically) as you please.

    I carried the Pamela for two or three years, and it holds a crapload of stuff. Alas, there’s just a single magnetic closure in the middle of the top, so upside-downing = spillage. No separate slot for a laptop, but big enough for one.

    My new one is in the Tara style, and the top both zips and seals up with a funky-looking metal latch thing. Four fabric pockets inside, super deep innards that expand to hold a crapload of stuff. I carried the following inside this bag in London last week: fat wallet, phone, three passports, small toiletry bag with meds, compact umbrella, rolled-up jacket, box of gum, lip balms, the occasional small newspaper, souvenirs, hand sanitizer, miscellaneous boxes of glorious OTC drugs not available in the US, and more. There was always room for more stuff. The strap unhooks and rehooks to be a long over-the-opposite-shoulder messenger-style strap.

    The Diana style is a classic messenger bag, but I like a colored cloth strap better than a black seatbelt-style strap, so I haven’t gone this route.

    They’re a little expensive for cloth bags, but (1) you choose the fabric designs yourself, (2) they’re sewn in the U.S., so no overseas sweatshop guilt, and (3) they’re leather-free, a plus for the vegetarian types. You can also order a ready-made bag if the style grabs you–but I like to select the fabrics myself.

  79. kiki

    I can’t carry a shoulder bag anymore. I started to look like Quasimodo from the weight. I carry a camera, lenses, sketchbook, watercolors, brushes, bottle of water, whatever book I’m reading and all of the crazy things you carry when you have kids. I’m never without a bottle of Bactine and a small first aid kit, disposable toilet seat covers, tissues and a collapsible water dish for the dog. I went to the sling because it didn’t hurt my back, I can (and do) hike all day with it and it has an optional waist strap that I can utilize when riding my bike.

    Of course, security is a bitch and I cannot carry it into any museum (the guards scoff when I say it’s my purse)and I always get that extra personal attention from airport security.

    Garnigal, the Whedon link reminded me of how much I miss Firefly.

  80. mAndrea

    Dammit to fucking hell, I am derailing this thread!

    I can’t take it anymore! A little bit ago The Twisty said something about how the entire capitalist system would collapse if women were no longer exploited.

    Details, people, details!

    Give me something to google about this – a name, a phrase, anything! Pleeeeeeeze!

    /derail over.

    Incidently, Coach used to be fabulous. You could send your bag in with a scratch or other assorted bag-related trauma, and they would either spiff it up or give you a new bag in return. Oh, those were the days!

  81. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    mAndrea, that’s the Coach I’m talking about. The leather was supple and dreamy. I still get tactile pleasure out of cleaning and conditioning my old ones. And you could always remove the little Coach tag without any trouble.

    The ones they’re producing these days are overpriced, ostentatious crap.

  82. legallyblondeez

    I just bought a “magbag” from Borders for $5 (after purchase of other stuff I wanted anyway). It is not big enough to hold a niece, but on those days when you are child- and camera-free it is about perfect for wallet, keys, cell, and several magazines or smaller-size reading material. I know Coach and others are lovely, but I can’t part with that much money when I know I’ll tire of it in a few months.

  83. Feminist Avatar

    mAndrea: probably the easiest thing to do would be to google Karl Marx and replace the words working class/proletariat/labouring classes with Women.

    The capitalist system is based on the myth that women are extraneous to the system and that it would operate just fine without them. This of course denies the free labour that women supply as mothers and managers of the home, which is absolutely vital to society’s operation.

    The capitalist system also perpetuates the myth that women are unnecessary to the workforce and are just taking men’s jobs. Hence they are paid less and denied equal promotion rights- you know, generally exploited. It has been argued (although i can’t find the reference) that one of the reasons that middle class women were allowed to enter the workforce after WW2 was it was vital to the economy (sorry fellow feminists- it was economic reality not the women’s rights movement).

    It is certainly the case in Scotland that women have made up 51% of the workforce since the 1990s, although women are often clustered in part-time jobs. Removing women from the workforce would be utterly devastating to the economy. It is also argued that working class women were the backbone of the industrial revolution, taking lower wages and working in awful conditions to ensure the success of factory based industries.

  84. Infantilized

    Bags bags bags. What about _Volver_?

  85. kiki

    I loved the movie, Times Square when I was a teenager. It’s hard to get a hold of these days.

    I noticed that Twisty changed “sherpa” to “burro”. You have so much that not even a sherpa could carry it all?

  86. Jezebella

    Ah, Antoinette, and ye others of the anti-cell-phone persuasion: a cell phone is not necessarily just a bad habit. It is also an excellent means of calling 911 or reputable road service when one is traveling alone and in need of assistance. Especially if one is a woman who would really rather not interact with whatever yahoo happens to be rolling by at the time. I consider my cell phone a security device before anything else. I require only two major features in a cell phone: it works as a phone, and it lights up when it rings so I can find it in my bag.

    (see how I worked that back around to the topic at hand?)

    Ooh, and wouldn’t it be nice if non-misogynist media (books, movies, etc.) could also be identified by blinky lights?

  87. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    I recognize the wisdom of your words, Jezebella, but I am stubborn. One day it’s going to bite me in the tukis.

    If I could use a cell phone as a tool for identifying non-misogynist media, I’d sign up in a nanosecond.

  88. Silence

    I like the idea of the blinky lights on non-misogynist media, Jezebella. Trouble is, it would be like looking for a sequin in a bag of kitty litter. And that’s going to be my only reference to bags this post.

    By the way, I have mentioned Pan’s Labyrinth a couple times at least, haven’t I? And I’ll put in a strong agreement for Volver. Naturally both were beaten at the Academy Awards by a good old dude movie about spies in Germany.

  89. Rugosa

    LouisaMay – my men’s shoe size is 6, which is almost impossible to find. I also need men’s width, not youth width. Although I did wear my son’s size 6 sneakers when he outgrew them in a matter of weeks.

  90. Frigga's Own

    Antoinette Niebieszczanski, you can always carry a deactivated cell phone for dialing 911. I live without any telephones but I have an old prepaid that still works for dialing emergency. It’s so nice not to have to talk to boring people or account for my whereabouts, ever.

    I’ve taken to sewing my own bags recently, after I came into possession of a large windfall of ripstop. So far, a good bag has come to be defined as one whose pockets can accomodate whole trade paperback sized books while keeping said literature out of the general melee of knitting supplies and hair brushes.

  91. kcb

    So this might be interesting to no one except me, BUT: Twisty, you have definitively provided empirical, economic proof of the patriarchy. If we are a market economy, and the market always adjusts to fulfill our needs (this invisible hand hovering over us all), then WHY is it we cannot find: shoes we want, bags we want, shirts we want, swimsuits we want, jeans that fit, and movies we want to watch. – Kristina

    This is why I try to make as much of my own stuff as time allows. It’s a pain at first, but if you find something like a good skirt pattern, you can knock out half a dozen in different fabrics in a few hours. Not a whole lot cheaper than thrifting or discount stores, but I can make the fit and function work for me. And with proper seam finishing, they are a hell of a lot more durable than anything I could buy off the rack.

    Not that I’ve gotten around to making myself the ideal bag; I’m using the abovementioned pockets as a workaround until I have time.

    Slythwolf, thanks for the shopping bag pattern link. Several net bag patterns have disappointed me lately; this one looks like it might be The One.

  92. stekatz

    Attention all those blamers with above average fine motor skills. I went to the Maker Faire here in the Bay Area over the weekend. It was chock-a-block with hip and happening DIY folks. Lots of ideas for making just about anything – everything from robots to art cars to wierd bikes to knitted zombies. It’s put on by the publishers of Make and Craft magazines. Their website are craftzine.com and makezine.com. Especially wonderful was a woman name Doree (doreesday.typepad.com) who makes costumes and gave us some sound advice for constructing a BobaFett costume my daughter is planning for Halloween. She seems to be the go-to girl for costume ideas.

    Anyway, Maker Faire is coming to Austin in October. Loads of fun but bring some cash and your tote bag of choice (at least a two toddler size).

  93. walkingg

    Kipling bags are quite tough and they come in lots of colors and sizes.
    The niece can play with the annoying color coordinated toy monkey that comes with the bag

  94. kcb

    Stekatz, thanks for the tips! Must attend Maker Faire.

  95. schatze

    “It’s so simple! I will just keep my niece in my pocket.”

    I think Popeil makes a Pocket Niece along with the Pocket Fisherman. As seen on TV. More likely it was just the Pocket Nephew and we know who to blame for that.

  96. wren

    I have a big old Herve Chapelier bag (… I know. It was a roommate cast-off, and now I’m hooked), which is of perfect size for my book/notebook/music/wallet/knitting-toting self, but unfortunately only has one pocket. I supplement that with a little zip-up pocket thing I got from Levenger.com.

    You might also try Crumpler bags. They started off as camera-specific, I believe, but they’ve grown into larger, sturdier, more waterproof things. With pockets. They’re deceptively roomy, too, although probably not child-sized.

  97. MzNicky

    Okay, this has gone far enough. I want to know under what circumstances one needs one single bag in which to stuff

    1) ordinary junk, such as wallet, car keys, and glasses;
    2) a camera and camera paraphernalia;
    3) a computer;
    4) five days’ worth (?!) of clothes and toiletries; and
    5) a toddler.

    I mean, seriously. Upon which occasion does anyone need all of these things at once? If you’re going to use a camera, are you also going to use a laptop computer? And do you use these things every time you go out the door? And with regard to changes of clothes: Are you packing your purse in the event of the Apocalypse, or what? And in any event, if you’ve also got a toddler with you, you probably won’t get much picture-takin’ done, and you sure as shit ain’t doin’ nothin’ with a laptop computer.

    So may I suggest:

    1) a purse;
    2) a camera case/canvas tote;
    3) a laptop carrier;
    4) a suitcase; and
    5) a stroller.

    Use as directed and as the need arises. Failure to do so may result in the throwing out of the back and/or the appearance of a wayfarer.

  98. thebewilderness

    Here’s a start:


  99. Patti

    I didn’t get to go to the Maker Faire (and have been sobbing over the geeky pictures of geeky things), but I’ll go to Austin in October if Twisty will be there.

    I used to have a red Kipling bag for a diaper bag, back when diaper bags all looked like baby clothes. I have to be able to view 2 documents side-by-side for my work, so my current laptop is too big for any decent looking messenger bag. I ended up with a Tom Bihn bag.

  100. donna

    Black. Leather. Backpack style. Pockets galore. Goes with everything. Cellphone clipped to the outside.

    Had it three years now. Only one I own….

  101. MedeaOnCrack

    I don’t understand why you need these gargantuan bags. And wall-sized laptops. Don’t you have homes, desks, offices, computer labs on campus? Why are you working anywhere but there?

    Bag. Mine is an 8″ by 11 by 2″ across the body-strapped multi-pocketed gore-tex. I can’t carry anything that doesn’t fit in it. That’s why I bought it. On lighter days I use a waist pack.

  102. Jezebella

    MzNicky, now that you put it that way, I think the reason I am not on a quest for the perfect gargantuan bag is that my car is my purse.

  103. josquin

    Enough with the bags already!
    I’m with MedeaOnCrack:
    Some of y’all seem to want to carry around all your worldly possessions on a daily basis, like those poor homeless people with their shopping carts.
    There is a big old wolf at the door in the guise of chronic back pain that’s going to come in if you don’t figure out how to travel more lightly.
    I had to lug stuff around for my profession for years, and am not loving the wolf which has taken up permanent residence chez moi.

  104. slashy

    MzNicky, as a car-free urbanite who is frequently to be found sleeping at homes that are not my own (necessitating the presence of, at least, a toothbrush, a change of underwear and a fresh t-shirt in my bag), and whose daily activities involve heavy use of both camera and computer, I can claim full need of constant access to the first four items on your list (the toddler I can think of no use for, cute though she is).

    The problem with your modular approach to stuff-carrying is that four bags slung in varying arrangements over shoulders and back create an unpleasant choking/strapped/easily-tangled mess. Or perhaps this is not the case if one has four perfectly well-designed bags for each unit of stuff, but given the problems encountered as we seek even one perfect bag, I don’t find this to be a likely scenario.

    I carry my stuff in an old canvas school backpack, from before they started making them out of plastic. It’s not perfect, but it’s not horrible either.

  105. MzNicky

    slashy: When I taught journalism classes at the local university I had to tote my laptop, textbooks, handouts, 25 pounds of graded papers, etc., across campus all the time. I bought one of those backpack-on-wheels things with a retractable handle. I looped the straps of my gym bag and purse around the wheely-dealy’s handle and just dragged the whole mess around behind me. But the quest for a bag that can carry everything is an exercise in futility. Why, for example, would you want to be rummaging around in your bag for change for the newspaper machine and have to fight your way through computer cables and underwear?

  106. the opoponax

    I’m in the big bag camp. Mainly because I need to carry at least one book, as well as having the flexibility to carry my laptop if need be. But it’s more about the book.

    Now that I have an iPod Shuffle, I’m becoming slightly more of a shlepping minimalist — that was my other big space commitment.

    But I still like the bigger bag, for flexibility’s sake. I use a Timbuk2 classic messenger, which I sometimes swap out for this one tote bag that was crew swag from a film i worked on. However, lately I’ve been considering getting one of these from Brooklyn Industries, which actually has a lot of big multifunctional bags which are also stylish.

  107. Mar Iguana

    “I can’t take it anymore! A little bit ago The Twisty said something about how the entire capitalist system would collapse if women were no longer exploited.” mAndrea

    Read Firestones “Dialectic Of Sex.”

    Movie-wise, I suggest “Fire,” “Earth” and “Water,” a trilogy of movies by Indian moviemaker Deepa Mehta. ‘Course, she can’t make movies in India anymore as anxious boys converge on her sets and burn them down. So, the government won’t issue her the permits because of the riots caused and it doesn’t care much for her exposure of stupid Indian men. Makes India look bad and all.

  108. the opoponax

    As much as I love Mehta’s elements trilogy films, all three do, in fact, define women by their relationships to men. Water — widows. Fire — wives. Earth — slightly less iconic, but Nandita Das’s character is surely defined by her status as the girlfriend of Amir Khan’s character; this is the part of what sets the scene for the major conflict of the film.

    That said, one great thing about Mehta is that she deliberately chooses a male-defined relationship and then completely busts open your expectations.

    Also, while her role in the Indian film community is definitely rife with drama, I think the whole “And Then The Shiv Sena Burnt Down My Set!” stuff is a little overhyped. Not to mention that it’s not her treatment of gender in Indian society that gets them so freaked out, it’s the fact that her films have kissing in them, which is taboo there. I think she’d like to think it’s because she’s a brave gender warrior crusading against Indian patriarchy, but for the most part her depictions of men aren’t terribly scathing and her criticism of the plight of Indian women is a wrist-slap, at best.

  109. Mar Iguana

    A little overhyped?! Have you seen the video of boys gone wild destroying her set for “Water?” And, showing kissing is not about gender in Indian society, how? Trying to set a woman on fire (“Fire”), a mob of men ripping a woman from her home to torture (“Earth”) or depicting the miserable lives of widows (“Water”) are wrist slaps? OK.

  110. the opoponax

    while i haven’t seen the video of the set destruction, i have seen the documentary which comes with Fire about what a brave and selfless hero of feminism Mehta is because some nutjobs ripped up posters of Fire in a movie theater that was showing the film (Mehta was not present, and no one was hurt). the tone of which is, yeah, really really overhyped in my opinion.

    this is not to say that her work isn’t fantastic, or that she’s not breaking some pretty good ground.

    Indians view almost any heterosexual contact as extreme PDA. whether you agree with that or not, i find it hard to see why that’s necessarily sexist. i don’t feel that i’m being sexist when i get grossed out by two teenagers dry humping on the subway, so why is someone in India being sexist when they are grossed out by two actors kissing in a movie? just because something is different in a nonwestern society doesn’t make it bad or wrong or inherently misogynist.

    as to why her treatment of men in her films is pretty much a slap on the wrist, have you SEEN her films? other than Nandita Das’s husband in Fire who’s portrayed as just a garden variety all-round dick, she pretty much gives her male characters a pass. yeah, she criticizes cultural institutions and systematic oppression, and that’s important and one of the reasons i like her work a lot. but the men who hire widow whores in Water aren’t held in nearly the contempt that the female widow madam is, as just the first example that pops into my head.

    also, i don’t remember the exact details of the scene you describe from Earth, but if i recall correctly Nandita Das is being tortured because she’s Hindu, not because she’s female. and throughout the film Mehta depicts women as becoming the victims of the violence, and men as becoming the victimizers (and in the case of the Sikh guy and Parsi dad, the potential protectors), even though in real life both men and women were massacred equally, and i’d be very surprised if women didn’t take part in the mob violence. the massacres of Partition had little or nothing to do with gender, in fact Mehta twists history in order to make it that way, strictly to conform to gender stereotypes.

  111. the opoponax

    oh, i also wanted to add that part of the reason i see her treatment of gender in Indian society as a bit of a wrist-slap is that for the most part she picks the absolute most extreme situations to call attention to, thus giving garden variety institutionalized sexism a bit of a pass. she’s sort of the equivalent of the abolitionists who wanted to show that slavery was wrong by talking about Simon LeGree. not that Simon LeGree isn’t bad, but slavery as a system is inherently wrong in and of itself, not because sometimes owners are really cruel. and pointing at the LeGrees of the world enables everyone else who is complicit in the system to pat themselves on the back and preserve the status quo while Simon gets a slap on the wrist for mistreating his property.

    that said, i love Mehta’s films, own all of them, think she’s a great filmmaker, totally admire her, etc. i just don’t think she’s Teh Ultimate Third-World Feminist Art Martyr, as she tends to be painted sometimes.

  112. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Twisty, I’ve thought of the solution to your transportation woes. You need not a sherpa or a burro but a simple wheelbarrow. True, it’s unwieldy, but short of a dogsled (not practicable in your climate), I think it’s the only way.

  113. Tricia

    I showed up too late to read all the comments and still get any work done today, but I did get as far as Mother Nature inventing sewing machines, and wanted to say, word!

    Sewing machines free software from Wild Ginger = the exact bag you want.

    And !@#$* the media. Starts out so well, and ends with girl power. Feh.

    (I’m trying to eliminate “fuck” as a pejorative from my vocabulary, because “fuck” is only bad because it makes the fuckee into a woman – but I haven’t come up with a good alternate. Hence the punctuation.)

  114. MedeaOnCrack

    One or three films aren’t going to tell the whole story oponox. I think you’re looking for a series of about 12 in a documentary such as was done for the PBS series on The Blues.

    For what she set out to do, with what she had, she did it well.

    Blamers should check out this site.


    Working photog? I used to wear about 30 lbs of camera equipment film etc in a vest. It’s dorky looking but works best. And that’s the point no?

  115. the opoponax

    Medea, Mehta has made 4 feature length films. Each film has multiple examples of the stuff I talked about above. My problem with the films isn’t that they’re not a laundry list of every women’s issue ever, but that she repeatedly does those quite specific things (gives men a pass, and confines her critiques to Simon LeGree situations).

    And to repeat myself for the 3rd or 4th time, now, I really love Mehta’s work, and almost invariably agree with what she’s trying to do (besides the victimized/victimizer issues in Earth, which I really do take issue with). My problem is more with the way she’s depicted in the media as Teh Ultimate Martyered Feminist Artist. I also think that she makes a very convenient “OMG Those Brown People Are So Scary!” subject for the racist/xenophobic MSM, which is probably why her work gets so much more coverage than that of other feminist directors who are out there tackling the same issues, sometimes even within the same communities. For instance Mira Nair and Gurinder Chadha, both of whom tend to deal with much more garden variety systematic aspects of the patriarchy, bring their critiques into the white world, etc, and who of course are not branded Teh Ultimate Feminist Artists Evar. Mainly because their work doesn’t attract nearly so much obvious Brown People Are Scary attention.

    In fact, that reminds me of two of my favorite recent films in which women aren’t defined in their relationship to a man — Bend it Like Beckham and Monsoon Wedding.

  116. MedeaOnCrack

    I like Nair better too. As for Mehta’s press, I don’t read American/popular press on film. Her coverage in Canada isn’t so hero-making.

  117. RadFemHedonist

    I have a cellphone, I keep it with me all the time, it’s primary uses being:

    A) Phone people if I’m going to be late meeting them or if they have to cancel one with me or something.

    B) Take pictures as I have no camera other than that.

    That’s it, to be honest I don’t see anything objectionable about cellphones.

  118. Joanna

    I have switched to a smaller planner and it has forced me to simplify my life. I also switched to a much smaller bag after trying to carry 30 lbs of stuff every day (for work) and developing rotator cuff impingement as a result. If you’re carrying more than 1/10 your body weight in junk, you can injure yourself, unless it’s in a backpack worn with both straps. I’m not a very big person, so I now carry a small bag. I’m also thankful that my former toddler is now 12, so I can use her as a burro instead of the other way around.

  119. MedeaOnCrack

    Photography of interest to Blamers. See “Women From Clay.”

  120. mAndrea

    Thebewilderness and Mar Iguana, many thanks and mucho nachos. I’ve understood Marxist theories, but the tie-in to women’s issues has always been more than a little fuzzy. Feminist Avatar’s explaination has helped; but I just can’t help thinking there’s still a piece of the puzzle missing… Not from what I know (because it should be obvious I don’t know squat), but from what the feminists authors know.

    Because if they did have a better handle on it, then that idea would have trickled down into common discourse much more readily than it has presently. Which is one of the reasons I’ve mentioned it here more than once, because if anyone can boil it down into common sense bites for easy mass consumption, it’s Twisty.

    Bell Hooks talked about marxism and women’s exploitation in one of her early books, but that’s as much as I recall. Yeah, think I will go into town and grab some Firestone, then come back home and read how oppressed I am under the pine grove. :)

  121. Rugosa

    I like the burro idea. Not only can they carry stuff, they are cute and produce good manure for the vegetable garden.

  122. Tricia

    Yeah, think I will go into town and grab some Firestone, then come back home and read how oppressed I am under the pine grove. :)

    I just re-read some bits of The Dialectic of Sex in preparation for my intro W.St. midterm, and I heartily endorse it. Not only do I now feel that I get the tie-in between Marxism and women’s opression, I think I understand the whole Marxism/dialectical materialism thing a lot better too.

    Once this course is over, I’m buying the whole book instead of just having some selected readings. She’s brilliant.

  123. the opoponax

    she does get hopelessly sci fi at some point, though.

    although i’ll admit she’s kind right (she posits that women cannot free ourselves until we seize the means of human reproduction, which we must do via cloning, test tube babies, etc. etc. rather than, say, happy lesbians with nice male friends and turkey basters).

  124. PhysioProf

    Cute niece! I am a childless uncle, and a niece aficionado.

  125. Tigs

    I just found out I will be an aunt! But not until January! I will have plenty of time to find bags in which to place small children!

  126. the opoponax

    congratulations! my one and only neice is only about a month old, so i’m pretty sure she’ll fit into most of my bags at this point. another few months, though, and i’ll have an excuse for a shopping trip…

  127. Mar Iguana

    It occurs to me that the video of the destruction of Mehta’s set on the first day of shooting for “Water,” the scene in “Earth” where the woman is abducted and the video of the woman in Irag being stoned all show mobs of boys who look, act and sound exactly the same.

    Mehta doesn’t show what happened to the woman in “Earth” but I’m betting she met just about the same fate as that Iraqi woman. Apparently, even a little slap on the wrist is enough for the boys to whip themselves up into a frenzed mob. The message is clear: Take one step off the razor’s edge, woman, and you will be mobbed and destroyed.

  128. the opoponax

    Mar Iguana, i don’t know if you’ve seen Earth, but it takes place in the midst of the partition of Pakistan out of India, in the largest and most cosmopolitan city in what was soon to become Pakistan. Lahore was an incredibly diverse city, and the whole place basically imploded with religious and ethnic violence when it was revealed that the city would go to Pakistan rather than India.

    people of both genders, and all religions and ethnicities were massacred equally, for any number of very complex reasons that really can’t be broken down like “but really they killed her because she was a slut!”, as Mehta implies in Earth. Men and women were killed in equal numbers — most of the violence was things like burning down houses, derailing trains, going into a mosque or temple or gurudwara and shooting everyone indiscrimintately. Women most certainly helped do these things, too.

    in the film, Mehta casts all the men alternately as killers or protectors, and she casts all the women as victims of violence perpetuated only by men. this has very little to do with reality, to the extent that it’s basically a lie. while i’m sure people did use the massacres as an excuse to avenge personal grudges, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find that men who already had violent tendencies against women used the situation as an excuse to go out there and kill them some hos, that’s not what the violence in Lahore was about at its core, as Mehta implies. also, i would be very shocked to find that there weren’t women out there doing the same things.

  129. the opoponax

    also, to make a comparison to something more westerners are familiar with, what Mehta does in Earth would be about the equivalent of making a film about the Holocaust and only show women in the concentration camps, and portray only men as Nazis or resistance fighters. while obviously both male and female Jews were sent to the camps, and obviously there were both female Nazis and female resisters.

  130. MedeaOnCrack

    But opoponax (sorry I got your addy wrong before) Mehta’s protagonist was a child. We got it from a child’s perspective, a Parsi child losing her aya. You know, you best tell a story with a slice.

  131. the opoponax

    but why would a child be more likely to see the violence as male-on-female at its core?

    not to mention that Mehta violates the narrator rules more than once in the film by showing us something the child wouldn’t necessarily have known about or comprehended, or giving us a viewpoint that would be horribly unnatural for her child narrator to hold.

    and of course, if someone made a film about the Holocaust through the eyes of a child, and then implied that the Holocaust was, at its core, about male violence against women, and that only women were its victims, and all the men were either Nazis or resistance members and never Jews, would that be OK? would we all be willing to look past that incredibly warped perspective and say, “well but her protagonist was a child; we’re getting this from a child’s perspective”?

  132. MedeaOnCrack

    No of course not but no-one expects the story of the Jews to be told in one film. I too was unsatisfied with Mehta’s film, and with Sidhwa’s book. But why must it have the whole story? This is never expected of books or films of any other oppressed.

    I look for 10, 15 minutes of truth in a whole film, and honest effort and feel hopeful. I also look to Nair to carry this. She is a rare storyteller. But both are worth watching. I can overlook quite a bit in anticipation of what is to come from these two. Compare to that waste of celluloid, Crash.

    {Now I must read the new post}.

  133. Mar Iguana

    Oponax, twice you’ve asked if I actually watched these movies, as if I’d recommend them if I hadn’t. Then you proceed to school me about what they are really, really all about. Your assumption, presumption, pontification and condescension are flat out snotty.

    You put Mehta down although you actually like her but she not a good-enough feminist filmmaker although you actually like her but she only slaps the boys on the wrist although you actually like her but she unfairly omits the horror those poor boys endured in the Pakistani cessation although you actually like her but she didn’t show all those women who were running amok in the massacres although you actually like her. OK. A tad confused, but hey.

    As MedeoOnCrack points out, the story is a slice. In “Earth,” the Lahore mayhem is just the backdrop to the story itself, which is about a little girl tricked by an oily, jealous asshole into betraying her beloved aya. A betrayal she couldn’t understand at the time because she was so young, a betrayal that she could never forget, mourned and felt guilty about for the rest of her life. You oughta watch it sometime. It’s a pretty good flick.

  134. MedeaOnCrack

    “…oily, jealous asshole into betraying her beloved aya.”

    A metaphor for what was happening politically.

    MarIguana look for The Bride, also by Sidhwa. See SAWNET.

  135. the opoponax

    Mar Iguana, i did say that while i like Mehta’s work in general, there are a lot of things i don’t like about Earth specifically. which i don’t think is snotty at all; i have every right to like or dislike a certain film, or certain quirks of a filmmaker’s work even if i like other things about that filmmaker’s work. i’d give a male director the same treatment, so why go easy on Mehta just because she’s a woman and a feminist? sorry if i was smarmy asking you if you’d seen the film — i forgot whether it was you or MedeaOnCrack who’d recommended it before.

    to be perfectly honest, i mainly just think it’s an all around mediocre film and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. but my big problem with it is what i detailed above — the lies Mehta chooses to tell, for reasons that have nothing to do with the demands of the narrative. one of which is “women as victims, men as victimizers/protectors”. which bugs me not only because it isn’t true, but because it plays right into our assumptions of women as passive and helpless, and men as the true enactors of history — Mehta is usually much better than that. and Partition (and the book Earth is based on) should have given her a unique opportunity to tell a story in which women can be active participants in history, and men can be passive babies who need rescuing — because everyone participated in both sides of the violence, no matter which sex, religion, caste, or ethnicity.

    i feel like westerners tend to like the movie because they don’t know much about the history of that particular event, and south asians tend to give it a pass because it’s one of the few films out there about this, and also because most south asians i’ve talked to about the film were Indian Hindus, and Mehta paints a very rosy picture of their role. i’d honestly like to know what Pakistani Muslims (or Indian Muslims for that matter) think of it. my roommate, who is Sikh, hated it for pretty much the same reasons i already talked about — though his opinions were stronger, because his mother is from Lahore and was there, could have been either of the two female protagonists.

  136. MedeaOnCrack

    I’ve heard the points you make from East Indian women of all cultures, and agree with them, opoponax. But I can’t say them. AND, I don’t think knowing these points of view which share yours invalidates my previous comments however. Maybe my comments reflect the position I learned around many East Indian friends and colleagues. This is too dangerous a subject for anything but polite neutrality for one outside these cultures. There is a huge diverse East Indian community here. I’ve had to find a safe way through it as (at one time) a reporter for this community and ESL teacher, and one who still has friendships with all members of the community. So I just try to find positive things there in those films, but I know what you are saying.

    This edit function arrgh.

  137. Wrongshore

    You might like Year of the Dog. Just sayin’.

  138. the opoponax

    wait, so because i’m white, i’m not allowed to say that i disliked certain things about a movie made by an east indian filmmaker about an event in Indian history?

    i’m sorry, but that just doesn’t jibe for me, at all.

    i mean, sure, there are some things i just won’t say because of that — for instance my original post above talked a lot more about Mehta’s pro-hindu/anti-muslim bias, but i reread it before i hit the blame button and decided to edit it down a lot because i didn’t want to be seen as stirring up that kind of shit. especially since i’m neither hindu nor muslim and not punjabi and, hey, there’s stuff about it i probably just don’t understand.

    but i don’t think that, in general, white audiences have to sit by and smile and nod and approve of everything an artist of color does, whether we agree or not. especially if it doesn’t directly have to do with the experiences of people of color. i have every bit as much right to critique Mehta’s treatment of women in her films, as well as to critique aesthetic aspects of her work. i try to stay quiet on issues that deal directly with experiences in a community i don’t belong to (just as i’d prefer men not to go around getting all Righteously Indignant about women’s issues they might not really understand). but everything else is fair game, i’m sorry.

    i mean, am i not allowed to think that some rap lyrics are shite because i’m not black?

    am i not allowed to recognize how misogynist woody allen’s films can be because i’m not jewish?

    i’m sorry, but you don’t get a pass just because you’re not a WASP. it doesn’t work that way.

  139. the opoponax

    also, a wee addition re race/ethnicity and who we are allowed to call out: i’m Cajun. so, what, does that make me completely unqualified to comment on anything unless it’s done by Paul Prudhomme, Michel Doucet, or one of a small handful of pro athletes? there are virtually no Cajun published authors, filmmakers, artists, etc. etc.

    wow. good thing i wasn’t thinking of becoming a critic, eh?

  140. RadFemHedonist

    Yeah, I think I shall carry on saying that tentacle rape and harems and Ah! My Goddess! are deeply misogynistic.

  141. Mar Iguana

    “MarIguana look for The Bride, also by Sidhwa. See SAWNET.” MedeaOnCrack

    Thanks. Looks good. I’ll be getting that book soon.

  142. Rebekka

    “And now, I’m off to find a movie that doesn’t portray women exclusively in terms of men.”

    I hesitate to mention this, since everyone else seems to be talking of arty foreign films, but Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Not so much the movie (which was crap) but the TV show.

  143. frank


  144. frank

  145. jodie a.c

    Frank, is that all you got? Because damn, that’s small!!”

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