The Weight of the World on Her Shoulder

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Paula Marantz Cohen, distinguished professor of English at Drexel University, writes about shopping for Smart, new journal from Drexel. She talks about her recent column on handbags -- and why men don't seem to need them. Her most recent novel is Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SATs. And Dr. Michael Minardo, a chiropractor talks about what women can do to stop their back pain, and what they should look for when they are shopping for a purse.


Paula Marantz Cohen and Dr. Michael Minardo

Comments [43]

Sally from NYC

Listening to this program, I felt embarrassed to be a woman. I simply don't understand this craze about handbags. It's embarrassing how women are such slaves of Madison Avenue. I am a professional woman (an attorney). I own ONE handbag. It is multi-purpose. And it IS perfect. It is a black Fossil(R) bag. Its dimensions: 7" 6" 2". Yes it is tiny. It has a long, thin shoulder strap.
It fits everything L need, including makeup, comb, contact lense solution, hair spray, cell phone, keys, credit cards, money and IDs.
When it falls apart, I hope to buy another one just like it.

Oct. 28 2007 07:49 PM
chestine from NY

dream bag sits perfectly on my back but has pockets for access to things like cell phone and metrocard - and it's pretty - I mentaly design this often and wish i could see one. I prefer backpack/bodybag for posture and to have both hands. I make my own lunch as often as i can (out of local food) and i prefer my own decaf so I carry that - the pretty french one i had was made of microfiber and so took a lot of abuse -

Oct. 23 2007 11:38 AM

Makeup, shmakeup.

I have a giant purse because I am hardly ever at home, and need to haul it all:

iPod, book, magazine, current knitting project, cell phone, blackberry, wallet, keys, chapstick, eyedrops, mints, checkbook, datebook, journal, pens, flash drive, tissues. And if I am going to hear live music after work (which is often): ear plugs and a camera.

No wonder my back hurts! But I disagree with what the chiropractor said. When I have tried wearing purses in the messenger bag style, that has given me far worse back pain than the standard style. Also, a lot of places (like Irving Plaza or the MoMA), require you to check your bag if it's a backpack, which defeats the entire purpose of carrying all that stuff around if you can't even access it!

Oct. 23 2007 11:33 AM
Paula from Putnam Valley

I can't believe the sexism here!! I carry a wallet, PDA, cellphone and pen. No lipstick, no makeup, no comb. My wallet is overstuffed with ID and credit cards but my husband's is worse, and I am the one who has to wait for him to shuffle through his disorganized cards in his fanny pack. I prefer a bag I can sling across my chest so I can keep it with me at work and not have to hold it or put it down for my drug addict patients to steal. I carry a WNYC or other tote when I need more, like a book or jacket. I buy a new bag only when the strap breaks on my old one, and donate the money I save to a needy cause!

Oct. 23 2007 11:13 AM

two things.
why do women pay so much on their handbags?
--handbags represent their socio-economic status.
why do they carry so much?
--it's american/modern neurosism. women like to carry everything because they worry ahead. what are they worrying? they can't stand the moment when they lack something.


Oct. 23 2007 11:09 AM
ann hennessey from mendham, nj

I find listening to these women talk about the need to have "bags" that match clothing, reflect who they are, and show others that they are "in" people etc. very disturbing, extremely materialistic and self-indulgent. I would like to respectfully suggest that they may someday get to the end of their life and wonder how they could have wasted so much time on such meaningless pursuits.

Oct. 23 2007 11:06 AM
myra from clifton

Way to promote the stereotype that women are vain, stupid, and materialistic.

Actually, it seems like most of the callers were. But they're not representative.

Oct. 23 2007 11:01 AM
Rosemary from Baldwin, NY

Three words: feminine sanitary products.

OK, that's not all. Here's more...

First of all, most men don't get by with just a pocket. Every guy I ever worked with in Manhattan always had a "bag."

I defy you to find one man working in an office today who lacks pants pockets, whereas women's pants and skirts frequently have no pockets at all.

And, the only "makeup" in my purse is a giant tub of Kiehl's lip balm. I also carry my wallet, tissues, keys, Band-Aids, a pen, the above-mentioned products on an as-needed basis, etc.

When my husband needs tissues or a Band-Aid, guess where he gets them...

Oct. 23 2007 11:00 AM
World's Toughest Milkman from the_C_train

Messenger bags are awful, I used one for school and work for years and it wrecked my back.

Oct. 23 2007 10:59 AM
Erin from Brooklyn

Robert - You're a curmudgeon!
Some people actually have to carry things in a bag - must be nice to be so "free" and able to carry nothing at all - don't be a hater!
I carry my lunch, gym clothes - just the necessities for my day. But this conversation is going on too long...

Oct. 23 2007 10:59 AM
kiki from new york city

My bag was perfect with the right amount and size of it's pockets, with zippers and snaps. Each pocket is like an organizer. However, it felt heavier than previous bags although I was carrying less, being more organized. A male travel companion carried my bag for a bit and noticed its unseeming weight. I realized later that all the material to make the zippers and pockets with tough nylon-like material weighs more than the bags daily contents.

Oct. 23 2007 10:59 AM
Rich from manhattan

I can't believe this topic is on the air. What a complete and utter waste of time. Media coverage like this is why Americans are so completely ignorant in so many areas- and yes even New Yorkers are as well.

Oct. 23 2007 10:58 AM
pat from nj

What about all of the ugly bags out there these days? I love bags, but , geez, these days they are huge, squashy, and encrusted with buckles, hardware, and all manner of ugly ornament. Ugh. Too, too, much. Less is more.

Oct. 23 2007 10:58 AM
Robert from NYC

She ought to be locked up. An extra pair of shoes, imagine that. Does she also carry a rolled up mattress? I've seen it!

Oct. 23 2007 10:57 AM
IC from NY/Montreal

I have never owned a purse/bag and never will bother. My son proudly tells people his mother is the only woman without a purse/bag....but I ALWAYS carry a huge canvas bag when I shop to skip the plastics!.....I do not shop daily.

Oct. 23 2007 10:56 AM
shauna from montclair

PS Men's clothes also tend to have more pockets than women's clothes do.

Oct. 23 2007 10:55 AM
shauna from montclair

Please! This is ridiculous. Not all women are like this. I have 1 small, black handbag for everyday. And 1 small, black handbag for formal events.

I will also say that a few reasons women need handbags are (1) make-up, (2) their periods, (3) the men, children, and pets in their lives who require that women carry stuff around for them too. My husband is always trying to stick me with his cell phone, blackberry, papers, etc.

Oct. 23 2007 10:54 AM
Patricia from Brooklyn

I won’t even go into how many hand bags I own. Today I am using a "Louis Vuiton" that cost me about $1500. It is my 4th LV. My husband keeps asking me if we can pay our mortgage with my bags. Inside the bag I carry everything and anything, Iphone, makeup, my kids’ toys, sunglasses, keys, snacks u name it.
I don’t believe there is a perfect hand bag, hence the excuse to keep buying is a little shallow I must admit.

Oct. 23 2007 10:54 AM
Maggie from New Brunswick, NJ

This discussion is insane and silly. I have *one* bag that I've used for years and years -- why would I want to buy four of them a year? The only reason I keep a bag at all is because women's clothing doesn't have pockets.

Aren't there more important things going on in the world?

Oct. 23 2007 10:53 AM
mgduke from hell's kitchen

freud was off the wall about many things but on the money regarding purses/handbags, no? isn't that sexual component what drives the desire and acquisitions?

Oct. 23 2007 10:53 AM
Robert from NYC

If it doesn't fit in my pockets and not able to carry lightly in my hands, I don't have it with me. I find it ridiculous the crap people must carry in the handbag/backpacks (even more offensive to us, the perfect, who carry nothing). My favorite is the person with the handbag in which is a wallet/change purse at the supermarket. You have to wait behind them while they open the handbag clip then dig in for the wallet and/or change purse then open that/those to get the bills, open the change side get out the exact-to-the-penny change one coin at a time, get back the change put it in the wallet/change purse close those place them in the handbag that's on the counter then clip the handbag closed and then swing that either over the arm or shoulder, pick up the purchased item(s) bag and maybe move or ask a question first. GOOD, I HOPE THEY DO GET PINCHED SHOULDER NERVE...AT LEAST!!!! Really people you're not all that important.
So I don't have any patience.

Oct. 23 2007 10:52 AM
hjs from 11211

in the hunter gather system; women gather and they need something to put gathered items into

Oct. 23 2007 10:52 AM
CH from NYC

Women carry handbags so we can provide all the little necessities (pain relievers, tissues, breath mints, checkbook, subway maps, etc.) for our partners and children whose pockets won't hold them. And don't forget men also carry bags (but they call them shoulder sacks). BTW, Brian, I don't wear make-up. In my bag is a PDA, small emergency cell phone, paperback book, medicine, phone & PDA sync cord, pens, pad of paper, address book, checkbook...

I only replace them when the strap breaks. I look for a wide, substantial shoulder strap long enough to wear baldric-style. It needs a small secure front pocket for the metrocard, and a few large sections. It has to be rain-proof. And it is always solid black.

Oct. 23 2007 10:51 AM
Che Ramone from Upper Saddle River, NJ

I think now more than ever Men are carrying hand bags too; hence, the name Manbag.  As a manbag wearer I understand why women are so addicted. There’s a simple convenience to having the ability to keep whatever they want right next to them I quite bag that says looks at me.

Oct. 23 2007 10:51 AM
Mary P from downtown

I think that bags have become a boom industry because no matter how fat you get a new bag (and shoes too) make you feel great and well dressed.

Oct. 23 2007 10:51 AM
Laisze Pansy Poon

My boy friend end up giving me his stuff out of his pocket. I carry a backpack most days, so I can carry my lunch, umbrella, flash light, etc, but no make up! No hand bag is big enough.

Oct. 23 2007 10:50 AM

New Yorkers, for the most part, don't drive cars. So what we carry around in bags -- purses and/or totes is what most people have in their cars. My rule of thumb for purchasing a bag is that it must be light weight to start with, must have zipper close, and must be big enough to hold a bottle of water and a newspaper along with everything else (wallet, cosmetic bag, eye glasses, kleenex, walkman, and little things like cough drops, gum, etc.)

Oct. 23 2007 10:50 AM
Susan from Somers

My purse has my wallet, ipod, cellphone, feminine unmentionables, lip gloss, gum, pad of paper and a couple pens. It's very light.

However, don't ask me what's in the DIAPER BAG! That's a whole different radio show....

Oct. 23 2007 10:49 AM

"Men choose women based upon what bag they carry..." That would be very sad if it were true

Oct. 23 2007 10:49 AM
Peter from Brooklyn

I carry a "Murse" (man + purse) & i love it.

Its a small canvas book satchel from The Strand. I carry my life in it, keys, ipod, headphones, NY Times, pens, sometmes wallet, cell.

I also hate carrying a wallet in my front pocket during the summer (late october???)

We live in a city without cars, we need to carry our trunk / glovebox.

Oct. 23 2007 10:49 AM
Waldo from Manhattan

No purse, but a tote bag -- water, extra shoes, book to read, French grammar book to study, Sunday Times Magazine, hand lotion, hairbrush, snack (apple or cheese or pb&j, Met Museum Calendar, sometimes bird book and binoculars.

Oct. 23 2007 10:48 AM
Lola from UES

Before I moved to NYC I didn't have the need for a big bag, because I had a car. I could keep my gym clothes and school books etc in my car, but in the city we need to tote all this stuff around with us, on our shoulders!

Oct. 23 2007 10:48 AM

Phooey, I don't have ANY makeup in my bag, except a lipstick. But I don't travel light. I like to be prepared. I have my keys, pens and pencils, my wallet,checkbook, my phone, a flash drive, a comb, Advil, safety pins, and a paperback in case I get stuck waiting somewhere.

Oct. 23 2007 10:48 AM

the perfect handbag--it must be a backpack, with a compartment for my New Yorker so the magazine doesn't slip down to the bottom. At least 2 smaller pockets to separate wallet, chapstick, mints, keys, hankies. The big compartment must hold my umbrella and whatever I've bought that day at Target or the Gap or Pearl River, and sometimes it carries my leftover lunch home. Most backpacks with the right 'organization' for me are TOO BIG. The small packs are all one compartment, which is USELESS.

Oct. 23 2007 10:47 AM
Erin from Brooklyn

Not sure I understand why this is a topic worthy of the BL show...not that I don't like a nice handbag or anything...

Oct. 23 2007 10:47 AM
bk from nyc

I don't wear any makeup but lipstick. but what's heavy in my bag is a book & a bottle of water - both a necessity on the subway (water - what if I get stuck on the train).
I have a nice big bag but I've never spend more than $100.
when I go out at night is a wallet, cell, notebook. that's about it.

Oct. 23 2007 10:46 AM
Maxim Tsupko from Austin, TX

There are "man-purses" out there too, the metrosexual phenomenon has also increased the market. I personally have a backpack with a small endoskeleton ,easier on the back.

Oct. 23 2007 10:46 AM
Anne from Times Square Pedestrian Commuter

Oh, and I only paid about $150 bucks for my fantastic Tano bag!

Oct. 23 2007 10:46 AM
hjs from 11211

as a male i use a simple back pack

Oct. 23 2007 10:45 AM
lb from brooklyn

i have a giant handbag....(but it only cost $10 used) and i actually dont carry any make-up in it. i carry my planner,cell,ipod,book(s), sometimes a camera (i'm a photographer), snacks...pretty much everything but the kichen sink. but i use it all!

Oct. 23 2007 10:45 AM
Sharon from Brooklyn

The main point of a handbag is for the MILK - Money, ID, Lipstick, Keys.

Oct. 23 2007 10:45 AM
Anne from Times Square Pedestrian Commuter

Oh give me a break! I do not carry any make up in my handbag (unless you count chapstick). But, I do carry my planner, cell phone, wallet, keys, umbrella, my current book, iPod, ink pens, bandaids, advil, flash light, notepad, postage stamps, my lunch...

Basically, it's like a briefcase plus a first aid kit.

Oct. 23 2007 10:45 AM

wallet, bills, reminders & shopping lists, hair clips, lipstick & liner, cell phone, other odds & ends....

Oct. 23 2007 10:44 AM

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