The Man Bag

Ah, yes, the gift-giving season. So what to get for the contemporary fellow who has everything? The Man Bag.

The Man Bag is a high-style satchel – a purse, though its creators hate when you call it that. It's designed to hold the modern man's wallet, keys, sunglasses, iPod, cell phone, body spray, hair goop, diary and whatever other junk he totes around these days.

Why was the Man Bag created? As it goes, three fellows – Brian, Peter and Thai – "were tired of being ribbed for carrying their gadgets around in hand bags. The torment reached a boiling point one night when Thai was called a "pursey" at a party."

That fellow who insulted him was lucky Thai didn't have a sturdy Man Bag to smack him with.

In any event, the three designed their special bag for men (they call theirs the MAN-n-BAG) and sold it through The concept took off. The Nightline people said it's the latest trend in men's fashion. A GQ style editor they spoke with explained why: "Once you're out in the work world, do you really want to carry a backpack when you're wearing a suit? At the same time, most guys don't want to be like their dads and carry a briefcase."

Which is precisely the problem. Modern guys don't want to be like their dads – masculine fellows who defined themselves by their actions, not their high style, fellows like my father the Big Guy.

 The Big Guy has long known that if a thing doesn't fit into a man's pockets he shouldn't be carrying it. He carries his keys in his right front pocket. He carries his change in both pockets, so he can jingle it with both hands while shooting the bull with the butcher, the mechanic and anybody else he encounters in daily life.

The Big Guy's wallet is what a real man's wallet should be – thick and worn. It holds only the basic items a man needs to get through life: license, money and a yellowed photo of my mother from 1953. He keeps his wallet in his right-rear pocket.

Nobody taught the Big Guy to carry his keys, change and wallet this way. Nobody taught me, either. It's hard-wired into male DNA. It is what men have always done because it is what we're supposed to do.

But the genetic code is being rewritten in sensitive new-age men, such as the fellow who wrote a testimonial to "My chiropractor suggested your Man-n-Bag because sitting on my overstuffed wallet was misaligning my spine."

Ah, yes, we're at war with tough-guy terrorists and our fellows are suffering injuries from their wallets.

I'm not certain how the American male has evolved to such a sissified state, but I have a hunch. The reason dates back 40 years or more, when the feminist movement kicked into high gear.

Yes, feminism brought us many good things. Women deserved equal opportunity and they're doing well. But some feminists weren't content with just that. They wanted to destroy the enemy – the American male.

First they convinced us we were wrong, that we weren't socialized properly as boys. They changed the socialization process. They changed the education process, too. Their goal was to make us more sensitive and emotional – more like women.

Boy, have they succeeded. Now men spend hours fretting over their looks and style – they spend thousands getting their hair primped, their skin moisturized, their eyebrows waxed. They cry at baby showers and clap when junior does number 2.

They carry purses.

Well, nuts to that. Look, men, we need to get hold of our testosterone. Women are different than we are. It's best that way. It's best that we distinguish ourselves from them in our actions, manner and dress. They carry purses. We don't.

So what to get for the contemporary fellow who has everything? A thick, worn, wallet that he'll knowingly slip into his right rear pocket.

It may misalign his spine, but at least he'll have one.

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  • Guest

    I believe the man bag was first used in the 1970’s, by guys who wore pants so tight that a wallet stuffed in the back pocket might cut off blood circulation in..ahem…critical areas.

  • Guest

    I actually have had patients whose chronic sciatica was cured by moving their wallets from the rear pocket to a front pocket. Most of these guys were truckers who basically sat on their wallets for 8 to 12 hours at a time.

    So far, I haven’t had the guts to tell a trucker to carry a purse.


  • Guest

    Love the last line.

  • Guest

    I understand the thrust of the article but there are much better things to pick on then a nice satchel. There is nothing unmanly about carrying a satchel ( U.S. letter carries can attest to that I’m certain). In fact they were standard male attire in almost every culture and country.

    I’m not quite certain when they went out of style but I’m guessing in the late 1700’s because before then it was not unusually to have clothing with no pockets.

    I suspect pockets only became standard with the advent of the sowing machine in the the late 1850’s or so,but i don’t’ have time to do the research right now.

    being manly has nothing to do with the outside. It has to do with the deep inner strength that reflects Christ. I’m not talking about some wimpy watter down version of the man I’m talking about the full contact Christ. The man who sat in a garden with his friends when a mob came in after him and stood up and said “I am he leave these others alone” ( he said it with such strength that the mob fell back for a moment out of fear… but then seized him).

    That is manly.

    To knowing decided and choose to die for your fiends to suffer death on a cross when you had no need too. When it was in your power not too , but to do it anyway because it was the right thing to do. That is true strength and true manliness.

  • Guest

    As a woman I have a few comments, forgive me if I get to serious for the topic.
    I agree that calling something Man Bag is asking for it to be made fun of but it is to their credit they don’t want to use something for women. In fact browsing the website it seems that they are trying very hard to distinguish it from a purse (I think they would have done better to call it a gadget bag though).

    When I was at university I spent time with the type of people who spent money on the latest hightech toys and for the most part they were male and not interested in being more sensitive and emotional or into introspection. I can see one of those guys happily carrying around a bag full of neat gadgets and not realizing until teased that it could be confused with a purse.

    While I’m not sure that the Man Bag is the solution to being a techobsessed guy who wants to look businesslike (grownup), masculine and have his hands free while still carrying around his gadgets (guy toys) at least they are trying to look masculine. I personally think part of the problem is that the old fashioned backpocket wallet is about all that is considered too masculine for a woman to use.

  • Guest

    Yeh, the last line has it right.

    I in turn have carried a soft attache for years since without a delightfully competent secretarial wife I carry a lot of my ‘desk’ with me.

    I am never without my shopping lists. Nor without plain paper and pens to write – I’m forever getting thoughts to be recorded (i.e., not forgotten).

    I also carry my pills there. I carry OTC pain medication there, for which others have been grateful. I carry quick-sweets aginst low-sugar.

    I often have Rosaries, holy medals and gold angel-in-my-paocket coins for giving kids.

    Try stuffing all that in your pockets, guys.

    With my bear-headed walking stick, my big white beard, my hats – I look like a cross between the wandering Jew and the Galloping Grandpa (more like ‘stumbling-and-lurching’ but I’m trying to keep some consonance to my allusions.).

    It is much like a lady’s purse. My own irritation, over years, with ladies’ purses is how they ‘eat’ exactly what it is the lady currently seeks within the lost caverns and blackened crevasses. Hence, the keys ARE in there, but only prayers and strategic emptying will search them out.

    Once, for a couple of days, my late wife and I thought I lost my wallet – YEAH! right there in her purse, encountered while searching for the elusive tissue pack.

    I remain your obedient servant, but God’s first,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell or …

  • Guest

    It’s European!

    (for the former Seinfeld watchers out there)


    “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried”

    “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” – GK Chesterton