What is it with those “Man-n-Bag” folks?
What is Man-n-Bag? Well, it’s a company that sells man bags. And they seem like fine products, from the looks of them. The company’s Axible is a small black nylon shoulder bag meant for gadgets. It has some nice features, including a bright interior lining, a magnetic snap closure, and a concealed flap you can keep your ID in and flash to anyone who questions your age or gender.
Man-n-Bag’s Axible, DayTrek, and Messenger models are all shoulder bags, but they appear to fit best on men who already carry huge chips on their shoulders.
What do we mean by that? Well, let’s just say that the Man-n-Bag site goes more than out of its way to assure its presumably homophobic or gender-related-insult-sensitive prospective customers not to be afraid: YES, HETEROSEXUAL MEN CAN CARRY BAGS, the company insists — perhaps a bit too vehemently. BUT ONLY IF THEY ARE OUR BAGS.
Awkwardly coded assurances are smeared all over the site. The home page features a pretty yet stiff man in a light-blue polo carrying an Axible over one shoulder and dipping a cheery and obviously man-loving woman in front of him, as if she were his ballroom-dance partner. She smiles at the camera as they waltz into a . . . train station! With an American flag hanging boldly in the distance. What a heterosexual he-man he is, that man-bag guy!
More hammy attempts at heterosexual coding abound on the DayTrek page: There’s a horse, sniffing after the bag-carrier’s butt at the top of the page. And in the distance, horse races! The Messenger and DayTrek models also feature the more cloddish version of the company’s logo, displayed prominently on the flap, so any onlooker can see it’s a MAN’s BAG. In the background of the largest DayTrek product photo there’s a boat!
The testimonial page, too, is peppered with references to girlfriends, fiances, wives, and the respectful approval of onlookers and roommates, plus a few feeble allusions to supposed heterosexual prowess: “My girlfriend says it’s sexy,” says one. “My wife has said that my butt looks better,” says another. Our favorites, though, are this comment from “Mark S,” in Shanghai, China:
Your MAN-n-BAG has fully restored my masculinity.
and another from Rodger B, stateside, which ends with this . . . uh, manly exhortation:
Men everywhere, strap one on and leave those sagging pockets in the past! [their emphasis, not ours]
As should be obvious, we don’t think customers who require this kind of comical reassurance of their supposed manhood before they’ll carry a handbag will solve their problems with any brand of man purse.
But what sort of deep-seated psychological trauma would cause someone to set up a site such as this? Read on, and we’ll tell you.
The answer, it seems, is spelled out rather clearly on the company’s “about” page:
It’s a simple story. Brian, Peter, and Thai were tired of being ribbed for carrying their gadgets in hand bags. The torment reached a boiling point one night when Thai was called a “pursey” at a party. So they got together to design their own gadget bags which were well received and highly complimented on the social circuit. Other guys asked where they could get one and women expressed interest in buying one for their boyfriends and husbands. Thus MAN-n-BAG emerged, dedicated to making bags for men — and men only. [our emphasis]
Ahh, for men — and men only! But really, we think, only for men terrorized by fear of emasculating insults.
If the thought of carrying a man purse makes you fearful that others might think you are not attracted to women, take our simple advice: Don’t wear one.
- If it’s not a Man-n-Bag it’s a purse! [Man-n-Bag]
- Why it’s so bright inside your dark man purse [The Satchel Pages]