I’ve always had a complicated relationship with purses. I know many lesbians don’t like to carry a purse. Maybe because it’s too feminine. Maybe because it’s a pain in the butt to tote it around. I have vacillated between love and hate with my purse.
Like I said, it’s very complicated.
I started carrying a purse when I started my period. You have to have some place to carry your once-a-month essentials. I got a cute blue suede purse with a long macrame rope strap. I put my plastic tampon case with blue daisies inside it. Then I loaded it all up with everything a young woman might need during the course of a day: Jean Nate body spray, Aqua Net, pooka shell necklaces, and a paperback copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Then during high school, I said no to the purse and the establishment. I viewed the purse as just another sandbag the patriarchy was using to weigh me down. I carried my tampons in my sock.
During college I went back to purse-carrying. Mostly because I never knew where I was going to end up for the night. At that time I packed my huge-ass purse—It was really a duffel bag, I think—with an extra change of clothes, clean underwear, socks, bra, toothbrush and toothpaste, half a bottle of Jack Daniels, 750 hits of speed (white crosses, remember those?) and a well-worn, dog-eared copy of The Communist Manifesto.
Then after college, I moved to California and became a devotee of the lesbian scene in Los Angeles. Nobody carried a purse. So, once again, I eschewed the feminine trappings of pursedom. (Though I did fall victim to a fanny pack for about two weeks.) I was back to carrying tampons in my Doc Martens and my money in my sportsbra.
Then I adopted my daughter, Emma. That meant I had to carry not only all my crap, but five times more crap for a baby every where I went. I bought a big diaper bag. I stuffed everything in it. Emma and I could’ve survived a holocaust with all the stuff I lugged around in that bag—which included the book Heather Has Two Mommies.
Then Emma grew up and I didn’t need a purse any more. I bought pants with pockets. I stuffed candy and tissues in my bra and carried my credit card and driver’s license in my pocket along with my cell phone.
But today I found myself once again shopping for a purse. My needs are very specific. It has to have a long strap so I can wear it across my body and it can’t be ripped off me. It’s also easier on the back in that position. I want it to have two main compartments. One side will house all my essentials like my wallet and Aleve (thank god, I don’t need tampons anymore.) The other compartment will be for my trump gun. I recently bought a .38 special and got a license to conceal carry. I call it my trump gun because I didn’t need a gun until Mr. Trump told white men everywhere that they can beat up people and rape women and it’s okay. My new purse will also need separate pouches for my taser and pepper spray. The book 1984 is my new bible.
Like I said, my relationship with purses has been very on again, off again. Right now it’s on again. And I’ve decided to embrace my inner purse. And to all those people who think purse-carrying is a sign of weakness, I dare you to look inside mine—I’m a one-woman, marching, ass-kicking arsenal!
The women in this book don’t call them purses –
they’re ammo bags!