Do you carry a purse? -- 04/01/08

Dr. Helen Smith (wife of Glenn Instapundit Reynolds) had a posting on her Ask Dr. Helen site -- " Living Like One of the Guys" -- in which she talked about trying to get by without carrying a purse.

She wondered how guys carry stuff around with them.

I keep money and credit cards and such in my wallet. Loose change goes in my right front pocket. Wallet either goes in hip pocket or a front pocket. Other stuff? That mostly means keys and cell phone (and sometimes a digital camera). Well, it depends on the season of the year. In cool or cold weather I would be wearing a jacket or coat, so stuff could go in pants pockets or in coat pockets. In summer it would all have to go in pants pockets. However, my digital camera is pretty small and easily slides into a pocket. Also, a few months ago I finally switched from the big clunky old phone I had used for several years and got a small flip phone which takes up even less room than the camera. (And working from home instead of in an office removed four keys from my key ring -- now I just have car, house, and bike lock keys on my key ring -- plus two little plastic tags with bar codes on them for supermarket frequent shopper rewards programs.)

I have complaints about many of the various frequent shopper rewards programs. They seem to discriminate against the gender that does not typically carry purses. For example, a supermarket might have a special promotion -- spend $400 between now and a certain date and receive $25 off coupon.. (They frequently tie it in with a holiday, spend $400 by the week before Thanksgiving and get $25 towards Thanksgiving dinner.) Proof of spending is provided by saving your register tapes, usually stamped by the cashier and then stapled into a promotional folder... which you are expected to bring with you each time you shop. I've stopped participating in those promotions. The damned paperwork would always be at home. Or it was out in the car, way out in the parking lot. Or it was in the car, but I'd driven Nancy's car instead of mine.

This is obviously sex discrimination. No, really, it is bias in favor of people who carry purses. And -- hey, are you listening Shaw's Supermarket? -- one result is that I've shifted a lot of my shopping away from the your store.

Or they print special Extra Bucks coupons on the end of your register tape, good for a couple of dollars off your next shopping trip. Hey, you scan my customer rewards card, you know it's me, so just let the computer take the two bucks off my next shopping trip automatically? Why make me save little scraps of cash register tape? Again, discrimination against the gender that does not carry a purse. Hey, are you listening, CVS Pharmacy? There have been a few times recently when I've planned on stopping at a CVS but when I realize there are some CVS Extra Bucks things back home in the kitchen, held onto the side of the refrigerator by a magnet, I decide that as long as I don't have those scraps of paper with me, I might as well stop at Rite-Aid instead.

(Okay, it's not just guys who don't carry purses. My daughter is going to be twenty-six years old in a few weeks and I do not believe she has every even owned a purse in her life.)

When I travel, whether it is an airplane trip or a train ride or just a hundred miles or so by car or a ferry boat to Block Island or Martha's Vineyard, I bring a backpack with bottled water and maybe a couple granola bars and a writing pad and a pen and a book or two. I usually do the same thing when I'm taking a class. But I don't bring it with me when I'm going shopping or to a movie, so I don't think that counts as a purse-equivalent.

Some people say that women need purses because they have to carry extra stuff for their husbands, but I can't think of asking Nancy to carry stuff of mine in her purse. It's usually the other way around. If we are going out to dinner or to see a play or going to a wedding, anything of that nature, she will be handing me things like a comb and lipgloss and her car keys for me to stick in the pockets of my suit coat or sports jacket.

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