Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Of Bags and Gender

This post has been brewing for a while.  The seeds were planted last month, but the material didn't reach a meaningful conclusion until yesterday.  I'll try to make some sense here.

Back in the late 90s I began to carry a shoulder bag back and forth to work.  This came about because I gradually felt the need to carry more and more items to work at my various positions.  I began carrying a bagged lunch.  Then I added a notebook, a cellphone, a handful of small tools and various odds and ends.  There have been a number of these bags.  I've had tote bags, a couple of satchels, and a succession of laptop bags that have rarely carried laptops.

During the same period my working wardrobe began to evolve.  I've mentioned before how limited my male wardrobe has become.  At positions where uniforms weren't provided, I've worn my own clothes, usually a combination of male button-down shirts with female slacks.  Most of those slacks have no pockets to speak of, so I'd gotten into the habit of carrying my wallet, phone, coins and anything else in the aforementioned bag.  I've often jokingly referred to this bag as my "man purse".  Sometimes this generates some ribbing, but it's all in fun, and I just smile my way through.

During the time I was out of work, my Green Dot card lapsed from non-use, and I've yet to sort out a new banking option since I started the new job.  One week I cashed my paycheck, and the very next day someone went through my bag at work and stole the cash.  No one understood why my wallet wasn't in my pants.  No one questioned my gender, but I got a lot of funny looks.  A couple of people asked me point-blank why I didn't carry my wallet in my pants.  I just told them it was an old habit.  That same day I received my new uniforms, including two pairs of khaki pants.  Since that time, I've gone back to carrying my wallet in my pocket.  No one has robbed me since, but what's the cost to my sense of self?

I've spent the last weeks plotting my return to the world en femme.  You'll remember that I was planning to do so back in August, but the time got away from me.  I had planned to go out for the Skeptics' event last weekend, but a series of mishaps caused me to miss my bus, and I wasn't able to secure another ride, so I didn't go out.  There's a reception Friday night for a show opening at the FSU Museum that I'm planning to attend. The show is called "Cute and Creepy".  Sounds like it's right up my alley, doesn't it?

The various elements of my femme wardrobe are scattered hither and yon, with most of my clothes and shoes at the store in Havana, and my purses and other bags at the storage site here in Tallahassee, which we can't get into at the moment.  Yesterday I browsed the clearance racks at Target looking for a purse.  I found a cute bag at the right price, but I wavered on actually buying it, because it's PINK.  For some reason I've never been comfortable with that color.  I think it goes back to childhood, when the color was associated with sissies.  That was a long time ago, and I know the color has acquired lots of positive connotations in the meantime.  Pink is associated with the breast cancer awareness/cure campaign.  I've just never been comfortable wearing it.  Am I strong enough to bear a pink bag?  We'll see.  I'm going back to Target this afternoon to buy the purse.

Before I go, I thought I'd share links for the art show and other related topics.

Cute and Creepy
The curator's site
Susan G. Komen for the Cure