Reflections on a Vocational Happenstance
This photo of Hillary Clinton was taken as she was leaving her daughter's Manhattan apartment on 9/11/2016. I think most of you have seen it by now, and most of you have heard all about Secretary Clinton's bout of pneumonia. What strikes me about this photo is the fact that a Presidential candidate is walking in the street carrying a bag. It's revolutionary, really.
A President with a purse. Do we dare to imagine?
Jimmy Carter famously liked to carry his own luggage when he was President (and Donald Trump famously criticized him for it), but that's not the same thing as routinely carrying a purse.
Part of the reason that women carry bags is that women's clothing typically features fewer pockets than men's clothing. But it's more than that: women simply carry more stuff around with them every day than men do. And why is that, actually?
I wonder if this trend doesn't go all the way back to our hunter-gatherer days. Men needed to be more mobile, have their hands and arms freed up to wield weapons, and to run fast when the time came. Women were moving more slowly and carefully, collecting and storing. Men were more engaged with the immediate now; women preparing for what lies ahead.
I recently saw a list of the top ten things the average woman carries in her purse: money, phone, hair accessories, mints, make-up/deodorant/perfume, sun protection, skin moisturizer, feminine products, munchies, notebook & pen. That list didn't include keys, but I think there are usually also keys. Women with families often have stuff that belongs to other people in their bags: toys and hats, crayons, diapers, sippy cups.
There's a sexist subtext, too, which many women resent when they stop to think about it. Because part of the reason women carry all this stuff around is that there is a double standard in our society when it comes to personal appearance. President Obama isn't worried about his hair getting messed up by the wind, or whether he has lipstick on his teeth. No lugging a bunch of stuff around just to keep up appearances.
So what do we imagine is in Hillary's bag these days? Well, I guess a communication device is a given, right? But she doesn't need to carry money or keys. Definitely something to write with, definitely mints. Sunglasses. A hand mirror. Perhaps a water bottle. Kleenex. Earbuds for when she wants to tune in and tune out?
Probably not in Hillary's, but nearly always in mine, are needles and yarn. Along with all the other stuff that I can't manage without, I need my knitting. Any time there is waiting, I knit. Many times I carry it along and never do any work, but I can't leave home without it. I miss the comforting weight of it, the promise of productivity.
What about you?
What do you carry?
What's in your bag?