Handbags at twenty paces, aimed at my headSo I get slammed in today's paper for being a mysoginistic chauvinistic pig. And perhaps quite rightly so for a third of them. The original article in Contradictheory was pretty harsh. But I suppose I should try to explain my end of it.
I did get some forewarning of this when a close friend of mine called me up earlier in the week and asked "were you purposely trying to be controversial?". Well, yes I was - I have lately written too many 'feelgood, dogood' articles and it was about time I shook my quilly behind a bit. But judging by the response, I probably crossed a line. Or a raging torrent of river.
Before I begin, I apologise to anybody I offended. It wasn't meant to attack anyone in particular, merely the notion that staying beautiful is a good enough reason to not try and protect yourself. In case the tone of the article wasn't clear, I was NOT seriously suggesting that people carry male escorts with them wherever they go. (Well, for some women, only if the escort is me, and it's not because I want to protect their handbags anyway.)
The intent at the beginning was to say, don't carry handbags which are easily snatched, find other ways to pocket your valuables. But with every single girl that I talked to about this, the conversation always ended at this: it'll make me look ugly. Would every woman in the world who was asked this give the same answer? I doubt it. I have a six foot tall Canadian friend who whacked someone on the head with the attacker's helmet when he tried to rob her bag. And probably because of some Canuckian proverb about something worth doing once is worth doing over and over again with gusto, he probably got hit again. I think she'd say, "I'll take my handbag and my chances, thank you very much". And good for her too.
But, everyone girl I talked to about this in those few days mentioned it. To me, you can't really be that concerned about snatch thefts if "it'll make me look ugly" is your reason to not try something to stop or avoid it. "It's impractical", or "I don't think the risk is worth the hassle", or "I enjoy the practicality a fashionable handbag affords me, and woe betide anybody who tries to come between me and my carrying purse" would all be worthy answers. Yet, I tell you this: put a stop watch in your hand, propose to a woman that they can put their things in their pockets, and you get the 'ugly' word within sixty seconds.
Well, this got me mad when I heard this. It felt like a conversation at cross-purposes. Of course it's possible to go around without a handbag, or at least only a handbag with non-valuables in it. But the impasse at which this notion would not be entertained seemed to be 'bulky pockets'. Vanity is not always a bad thing, but when it pushes practicality aside, I don't like it. I feel the same way about superstition. There may be a place for it, but not at the expense of common sense.
So am I treating women differently from men in this case? Yes. So I am chauvanistic. Do I hate women for it? No, of course not. I get frustrated and think it's silly, though. And I am a pig? I ask you to not consider my shape and size and manners at the dinner table when you ask that, and so, no.
That friend of mine who chided me earlier in the week got it right. Am I suggesting that if you don't want a motorcycle stolen, then you shouldn't drive a motorcycle? Yes, that argument stands. But I think people who have motorcycles don't necessarily have much of a choice in finding something cheap that takes them around town quickly. And the risk of getting a motorcycle stolen, although much higher than handbags, is still low, especially if you take care to lock it up properly.
There is nothing wrong in being defensive in trying to protect your property. You lock your cars and set alarms. You hold your child's hand when crossing the road. You put your valuables somewhere safe and don't carry it around on your shoulder. Makes sense to me.
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