Tom Purcell: It’s not a man purse! |
Tom Purcell, Columnist

Tom Purcell: It’s not a man purse!

Tom Purcell

Despite the accusations, I deny that I carry a man purse.

According to the New York Post, the man purse, or “murse,” is the “new must-have accessory taking over designers’ spring 2020 men’s runways.”

Murse designs include “cross-body satchels, fanny packs, top-handle totes and compact clutches” — whatever the heck “clutches” are.

Like so many other things in our divided culture, the murse’s growing popularity causes conflict that has only grown since 2015, when the Huffington Post asked its Facebook followers to sound off.

“Nope, just nope,” wrote one female reader.

Another woman wrote: “Does this mean I wouldn’t have to carry my husband’s stuff in my bag? Then, yes.”

One obviously hip, new-age fellow wrote: “I love my murse. It is the best way to carry my book, notebook, e-reader, pens, medication, ID and cash and have it all conveniently at hand when I need it.”

I hate to admit it, but I see both sides of this issue.

On one hand, it bewilders me that hip, urban males choose to adorn themselves with fashions — purses, fingernail polish, even eye liner, which some call “guy liner” — long associated with females.

It puzzles me that fashion is being used to whitewash the differences between men and women and between masculinity and femininity. I understand that fashions come and go, but I prefer fashions that highlight and celebrate the sexes’ unique attributes.

This is partly because of the era in which I was raised. Like other masculine men, my father carried a fat wallet in a back pocket, his keys in his left front pocket and lots of change in his right pocket — which he jangled with his hand as he shot the bull with other men.

To be sure, I’ve made fun of hip, modern fellows who need a man purse to carry their sunglasses, notebooks, body spray, hair goop, diary and whatever other items they tote these days.

One fellow I mocked helped introduce a “manlier looking man purse” a decade ago because he was tired of other men ribbing him for carrying a more feminine-looking handbag. I’m lucky he didn’t smack me with his murse.

I made fun of another fellow whose chiropractor told him to get a man purse because keeping his thick wallet in his back pocket was misaligning his spine. How can we defeat tough-guy terrorists, I wondered, if our guys are getting injured by their wallets?

But on the other hand, I no longer carry a wallet, keys or change in any of my pockets. I keep these items in an Italian-made leather computer bag that goes pretty much everywhere I go.

I also keep pens, my iPhone, my computer, a calculator, a hair brush and a handful of other unmanly doodads in there — not unlike the hip, purse-carrying fellows I’ve mocked.

But let’s get this straight: I carry a computer bag, not a lousy murse!

Which brings me to a troubling accusation I recently encountered at a local coffee shop, where a group of gray-haired retirees gather most mornings.

My Italian-made leather computer bag was hanging from my shoulder one morning when an employee of the coffee shop told me, “Those old guys are making fun of your purse!”

How dare those unfashionable codgers mock me for keeping up with the times!

Freelance writer Tom Purcell of Library is author of “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood.” Visit him on the web at

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