Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Man-Purse, The Alternate Gun Carry???

Recently, while pursuing one of my favorite manly pastimes - surfing the firearms forums of the Internet, I came across a term that seemed a bit funny, then a bit scary in its implications. The term was being used in a forum discussion that in essence asked the question what do you carry in your man-purse. Man-Purse - is that how absurdly far fetched political correctness has become for some men of America. Do they really have some politically correct need causing them to call a butt pack, a carry bag, a shoulder bag, a small backpack, or a change/cash purse, a Man-Purse? I would think, wouldn't you, the use of the term Man Purse in all likelihood implies there is something called a Woman-Purse or at least that at some time only women were allowed to carry purses and now it is okay for a man. (Well it is now okay for 'real' men anyhow, you know the he-man type I mean -the brawny hunter, firearms enthusiast, fisherman, who will only do and use manly things that fit his macho character.) Yet I have never heard that one before – I have never heard the term Woman-Purse. In fact I have never known the use of purses to be in anyway restricted to one sex or the other in my lifetime and, historically purses have never been restricted for use by women only, although many so called yet insecure he-men would have wanted you to think otherwise. In fact, purses were in likelihood first used by men who were the bearers of money and other small valuables in the business world of the past, such as back in the Renaissance. They just called it a purse back then, not a man-purse; and the word purse was a good thing. It implied that they had something valuable with which to fill it. Of course, little valuables bags were around long before the word purse was ever used to refer to a little bag. Purse first meant an amount of money, as the amount of a wager or a dowry! Aah, there it is - the hidden reason for mean to start calling their little valuable bags purses way back in past centuries - it was because they too were probably being politically correct. My guess is that sometime before they started to call there little bags 'purses', the women of the Renaissance had already gotten some sorts of freedoms over what they had suffered in the dark Ages and before. They also figured they had brought the dowry with them – hence they had right to carry a purse. So they too had taken on the manly habit of carrying little bags with implied valuables inside. Of course this was most likely a blow to the male ego hence they had to think up some way of making their little manly bags more manly. So since men were still the masters of the business world at that time, they named them after something to do with business and therefore with men - they named them purses (remember that purse first meant an amount of money as in the amount of a wager).

This went on for centuries, well at least decades, until the word 'purse' was replaced by another name in the history of small bags carried by men. Women started to call their bags purses without reservation because they had finally wormed their way into the business world as far back as the 1800's to a small extent; then they started that darned women’s suffrage thing. What was a man to do, he had to think how to keep his bag as a ‘manly’ bag. So he thought, and thought and for a while as he thought of all the possibilities he decided to call it a “possibles-bag”. The thing about this was that the guy who gave it this name was a wild Mountain Man and while the name caught on with the fur trappers of the day, it just never caught on in the rest of the civilized world. So man, the regular Joe who was not away howling at the moon in the mountains of the west, paced back and forth trying to figure ‘what do I still have that a woman does not after which I can name my bag’ and as he plunged his hands into his pants pockets – it hit him – the term pocket-book was born. Of course women are not satisfied to let men have their own thing for long and soon it was the rage in the fashion world for women to be carrying pocket books too. As fashion changes from year to year, month to month, even day to day, the name of the bags carried by women changed back and forth from one to another. They did not mind that the terms were reused over and over again as fashions came and went. All they cared was that they had stolen this from man and to them that was good. On the other hand, man was at the end of his rope. He had no clue as to what to name his new bag, so he tried a trick the women had used. He called the bag by a large number of names like: butt-pack, fanny-bag, hip-bag, backpack, daypack, survival kit, and the like - but woman always wound up using those names to describe the bags they too carried. Was there no way to label his little bag as his bag?

I guess, that just recently, man must have finally figured out a way to keep women (most woman anyhow – as you cannot count on the more manly of them not to steal this term too) from using the name he would give to his little valuables bag. He named it a Man-Purse. So there all you thieving and scheming women, take that, go ahead if you want it – go ahead and call your bag a Man-Purse, I dare you! Maybe that is what man was thinking, or at least that is what the 21st century politically correct male of America was thinking but, it is not the way I think. I guess I am just too old school for such political correctness about my purse. I wonder, are we, the American male, that far gone that we really have to call it a Man-Purse? Can’t we just call a purse a purse and leave it at that. A purse by definition is not limited to use by men or women, nor does such a distinction need to be made, unless maybe for some reason you find it below your manliness to just call it a purse. While Man-Purse has a certain ring to it, it is unnecessary as can be seen from the definition of the word purse:

1 a (1) : a small bag for money (2) : a receptacle (as a pocketbook) for carrying money and often other small objects b : a receptacle (as a pouch) shaped like a purse
2 a : RESOURCES, FUNDS b : a sum of money offered as a prize or present; also : the total amount of money offered in prizes for a given event

Because I am quite the old school manly-man, an original member of the reformed but unofficial He Man Woman Haters Club - Brooklyn Chapter back in about 1961, who cannot stand the thought of anyone thinking me effeminate, I choose to carry a purse only if completely out of sight of prying, ridiculing, desirous,or critical eyes. While I think the term purse is quite befitting a manly-man, based upon the definition & history of the word purse, I still keep my purse out of sight. Why? Well, to avoid he-mannish ridicule such as: “What kind of a wimp are you anyway carrying around a purse?". Then again, I also try to avoid the fashion curiosity questions from women such as “Oh my that’s a nice bag, is that Louis Vuitton?” or fashion inquiries from gay men such as “Where did you get that simply marvelous purse, I simply need to know right this minute”. Of course it is also best to keep it out of sight so that those same gay caballeros don‘t get the wrong idea about a man with a purse and try to pick me up. Then there are ruthless little bastards the neighborhood children to hide it from. It’s not that I am afraid they might laugh me to death but that maybe they will try to poke and beat me with sticks as they chase me down the block calling me sissy-boy as I run for my life. Heck, I work in NYC, it can be tough for a guy who blatantly carries purse even a man purse – all sorts of people get all sorts of ideas about what that means...and in my case they would be wrong even if this is the 21st century!

Seriously though, I never carry my primary firearm in a bag of any sort, let alone one called a purse even if the prefix ’man’ is attached to it. If it can be avoided, I will not carry a firearm,especially a primary handgun, in a bag of any sort during my daily routine. It is just too easy to forget someplace, too easy to pick up then put down, too easy to then do something else, then too easy to move on and forget to pick up the bag. Yep, just too darned easy to set it and forget it.

I prefer to carry my gun on my hip in a strong side holster. I carry spare magazines in a magazine pouch on the opposite side hip from the gun side (additional ones maybe carried in a backpack or survival kit). I carry a knife or two in my pockets. I carry a small flashlight in my pocket. I carry pepper spray in a pouch on my belt. I carry handcuffs in a handcuff case or in pocket. I also carry my wallet in a pocket and money in another pocket - I keep those separated, I figure if I lose my wallet, I still have some money. Likewise, if I lose the money, I still have my wallet with credit cards - that is so long as I did not lose my pants and both of them in the pockets, so I try to keep my pants on. I also usually have a cell phone in a clip on my belt or in my pocket.

I so carry a bag though. At least almost always while working. It is not even a brief or attache case either. What I carry is a small backpack. I use it to haul around other survival gear. It is a day-pack size that is fairly large but it is by no means something one could construe as a purse. The gear I carry in varies but it almost always contains survival gear like: money, first aid kit, space blanket, water, food, fire starters (candles with wood shavings embedded in the wax), matches, magnesium fire starter, glow sticks, a compass, a knife or two, knife sharpener, small flashlight, extra flashlight bulbs, extra batteries, passport, string, usually some rope, sometimes a gas mask (if there is room for it), extra money in a small change purse (there it is the traditional use of a man’s purse for me, my great-grandfather had one), spare ammunition, a two way radio with spare battery, cell phone charger, spare socks, spare undies and maybe a t-shirt, my medication (no not Prozac just something much more mundane like aspirin and BP medication). There are probably some other things, and maybe some of what should be in there is missing right now, but I check and upgrade the contents of my backpack every couple of weeks to month or so to make sure I have most of the stuff I might need. So if anything is missing, it won‘t be for long.

If you want to carry you gun in a man-purse, a woman’s-purse or any other kind of purse, even one made from a pig’s ear, be my guest. Me, I will be avoiding even the hint of carrying a purse because I am the kind of guy I am and I think a man carrying a purse is just not me. Of course, by some people’s standards, like my mother’s or my Godmothers standards of years ago – one might call my backpack a purse or pocketbook if only because the ladies of their day used to literally carry everything but the kitchen sink in the monstrosities that they lugged around - and they were as big as small packs. I remember being hit in the noggin once or twice with one of those huge carryalls now and again. Made me think that maybe they really carried a kitchen sink or two in them so maybe I had best behave. I can say without a doubt, those handbags of mass destruction sure make most of today’s man-purses look like the choice of rank amateurs when it comes to weapons concealment. No matter, if I need to carry anything in a bag on a regular basis, it will be a pack for me but the gun most likely will be in a holster on my belt and most of the truly essential gear will be on my belt or in my pockets. If I ever put down the pack and forget it, I could go a long way with what I'd still have on my person. As for the man-purse, I guess I am just not man enough for one of those, well certainly not that type of man enough, whatever type that may be, not that there is anything wrong with that, just that I never was and never will be...maybe I had best shut up and leave it at that!

All the best,
Glenn B