Man Purse Redefined


All over China we have seen men carrying their girlfriends handbags. More in the urban areas, but it’s pretty much been a constant sight. And it’s baffling to me. Baffling because we see it most in one of two situations:

  1. The girlfriend is carrying nothing. Nothing at all. But the boyfriend is carrying her petite super-feminine handbag.
  2. The girlfriend is carrying shopping bags of recent purchases made that day. Instead of carrying the shopping bag to be lovely and helpful, the boyfriend carries, again, her petite super-feminine handbag.

Why? And why aren’t they concerned about what other hot blooded males will think of them?


An MSNBC article listed three theories:

  1. It’s clearly not because the woman can’t carry her own purse since those purses are usually very small,” Huang, profession of psychology and a counselor on a Chinese dating reality show said.  “So it’s a way of demonstrating that he cares about her.” Hmm. That seems plausible. But even when the bag in question is patent pink and light as a feather?
  2. “Old fashioned gallantry.” I am all for gallantry but, I’ll admit, I would be suspicious of a man that wanted to carry my clutch that looks like it contains no more than my cell-phone, wallet and lipstick.
  3. The gesture might also be about control.” The psychologist in the article suggests. “The woman’s in charge, but she allows her boyfriend to hold her most cherished possession, her handbag.” Fascinating.

I like to think that a little bit of all of these is true. Even though I think it’s strange, the reason that men do it has to come from a good and loving place. They just don’t know or don’t care that, to us, they look silly while doing it. But why should they? 

Perhaps our cultural equivalent is opening doors for women. It shows affection and comes form a place of old-fashioned gallantry. Some women don’t like it for solid feminist reasons, but let’s assume you’re like me and you do. People from a different culture, where women wouldn’t dream of letting men open their doors, might think we’re utter weaklings!

But in this pressing research, I also found, that the women of China might have some competition. Chinese men are carrying their own designer handbags!

In fact, it seems that men in China represent 45% of the $1.2 billion (yes, billion) market for luxury handbags. Compare that to 7% in the U.S. That’s a lot of man purses! And to be clear they are purses, not messenger bags, I just thought that they were ALL carrying their woman’s bag. Turns our 45% belong to them.


6 Responses to “Man Purse Redefined”
  1. Susan says:

    Ooh, J has always had his man purse. Haha. But he never carries mine.

  2. Gillian says:

    where is Josh’s man purse?????

  3. Bama says:

    This is hillarious! I never heard of this ‘culture’ before.

  4. nick&cal says:

    Cool post Josh
    Noticed the phenomena on our travels too.
    Even got a Man bag for use when travelling. Handy for all those essential ‘day’ items.
    Just don’t sashay when you carry one 🙂

  5. susan peck says:

    Wonder if the men are going to be driven mad like us women looking for ‘things’ in their bags too.

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