Ladies feel free to join in too but I wanted to know exactly what men think.
Ever ticked off someone over the smallest little unimportant thing? Well apparently I did to a fellow writer friend. I didn't mean to but well, I had to be honest.
He asked me how I felt about his male MC having a man purse and how I thought audiences might perceive him?
I could only speak for myself but I told him I would think of a man with a man purse (which I consider just a purse) as maybe a bit feminine or weird. That might be a bad opinion but I had to be honest. I told him unless the book was humorous, I'd see the man purse in a negative way. I mean come on, a man carrying a purse in a thriller? I also said I couldn't take the MC seriously because, well just because.
So he got pissed! I don't know if he carries a man purse or what but he acted like I insulted him personally. I reminded him that he asked for my opinion and then I let him have it. I told him the average man does not wear a man purse and that I don't know how male audiences specifically could view his character as some big hero, manly type if the dude's carrying a purse! Well that set him off and of course from then on he was convinced I didn't know what men really want or think like because I was a "girl".
Anyway, I didn't mean to hurt the guy's feelings. But when you're a writer, your work is gonna get different opinions. He told me everyone else thought the man purse was cute. I didn't believe him. I think they said that to be nice. I don't know any men who wear men purses and the only time men talk about them is when they are making fun of them.
I'm from the South. Texas. I don't see men carrying purses down here, LOL. Maybe it's different in his neck of the woods but I think he's in the minority about how men feel about these purses. Please. They even make fun of them on television. And isn't a man purse just a purse any darn way?
Most men I know wouldn't be caught dead with a purse. I even asked my dad who's in his 60's what he thought. He looked at me crazy and said, "Sure I'd wear a man purse. Right after I start wearing dresses."
So guys, if you read a book where the male MC wore a man purse and spoke of it religiously, what would you think? What would your perceptions be?
Maybe it's just me but the man purse stuck in my head so much I couldn't concentrate on what the character was doing!I kept going in my head, "Man purse? Really?"
I think a great deal depends on terminology here. If he's seriously calling it a 'man purse,' then he deserves the ridicule that he's almost certain to get. However, a 'satchel,' 'messenger bag,' 'carry-all,' 'briefcase,' 'ditty bag' (points for anybody who can name the source), 'rucksack,' 'backpack,' 'tote,' or really ANYTHING except 'man purse' could probably be made to go over. Whether he likes it or not, 'purse' is used almost exclusively for a feminine item in the U.S., and will bring that connotation with it.
That's the problem. It would be funny if he was writing it in a humorous way but the whole thing to him was that this is a thriller and he's "bringing something new to the idea of male characters in these types of books." Yeah, he sure is isn't he? LOL. I think it would be fine for another type of book but who the heck could take a character in a regular thriller serious and he's carrying a man purse and is proud of it? It was the weirdest thing I'd ever read. I didn't read but a few chapters. He's not even finished with the book but asked my opinion. Like I said, I couldn't get past the fact that the MC carried a purse long enough to concentrate on what he's doing, LOL.
What gets me is how out of touch he seems to be when it comes to men and he is one. He keeps saying, "Man purses are in. You don't know what you're talking about." He keeps saying more men will have them in the future. Uh, where are man purses popular except in comedies or when folks are making fun of them? He probably carries one and uses that excuse to them being popular as to why he does, LOL. Please! I know what's popular and it sure as heck ain't man purses! I don't know who thought of the term anyway.
I get accused of this all the time. I like to think of it as a satchel, a manly man’s purse bag, but I still get accused of being gay. I mean it’s not like my satchel is a coach bag or anything with some fucking Paris Hilton dog hanging out of it. I have a lot of shit to carry, goddamnit! I’m a sketch artists so I carry drawing pads, mechanical pencils, lead replacements, kneaded erasers, visual reference materials (and no its not gay porn you perverted bastards). I also write so I carry a Laptop computer, reading materials from the library, research note pads, books and crap of all kind to assist me in my journey in becoming a better human being.
The only problem against my defense here is my wife bought this bag for herself to use, and I stole it from her. I don’t know. Now that I think about it. There are worse things than being accused of being gay. Do you know what it means when you are accused of being gay? It means you dress and smell nice. You dance well. You're good with house plants, keep a clean apartment. You have long lasting friendships with beautiful women that want to take you shopping all the time. Now if I can explain away this urge to want to wear kilts all the time. The lovely women that insist of shopping with me say I have the calves for it. That’s very sweet of them don’t you think?
I actually carry a Coach briefcase that was a gift to my wife from my mother (Visa points)--but my wife thought it a bit too butch. Also too heavy. It's a great briefcase. Satchel. Whatever. And I'm very firmly in the "don't give a shit what people think" camp regarding my personal accoutrements. Stereotypes aside, I'd a lot rather be mistaken for a gay man (again, so what?) than for a bigot--now that would be an insult.
Thomas I agree he should write what he wants but he needs to also realize that folks' opinions might be different from his and think of that in terms of readers. If he wants the man purse, that's cool for him. But he went off the roof because of my opinion when he ASKED for it, LOL. I think I alerted him to something he already knew but was hoping it wasn't like that. The truth is, unless the character is quirky or kinda funny or the book is, a main male MC with a man purse (who specifically calls it that) seems out of place in a serious thriller. I think if the book were a softer, humorous thriller it would be hilarious but he wants this taken seriously and I don't feel with my experience that folks will take it like he hopes.
If he wants to keep the man purse then I don't know why he's asking for opinions. That tells me he's second-guessing it. If I really wanted my MC to have something and am truly comfortable with it, I wouldn't ask others for their approval. In a way it's like he was really asking, "Do you think it's okay for him to have a man purse?" And when I gave back honesty, he acted like a brat, LOL.
If a writer is gonna do something, then they should do it they want to for the story. I agree of course, as a writer. But we gotta realize the criticism we might get back. I also believe that agents and editors would make him change his wording since this is a serious book.
Can you imagine this, Jack Bauer from 24 with a purse? It kinda defeats the purpose of him being this big tough guy. LOL!
In the UK, we call purses 'handbags' and man purses, you guessed it, 'manbags'.
In the context of a thriller, giving a dude a purse can make him scary. It’s like having him wear make-up (A Clockwork Orange) or tucking away his manhood (Silence of the Lambs). But allocating a purse to your hero? Brave, but it might just work.
Did you ever see the movie, The 51st State? Sam L Jackson played a - so bad he’s cool - gangster in a skirt. Alright, it was a kilt but it worked. You can even have a detective as a bald guy with a lollypop if it’s in character. So I say, BRING ON THE PURSE! Now, I’d better turn off Glee and walk my Chihuahua. 'Princess needs her walk, don’t you princess? Yes you do!'
Hmm, I love dogs and have a dachshund myself, but Chihuahuas are mean little critters. Got bitten by one recently, who ripped up my hand (extended in friendship!) pretty badly. I've put them in the same category as pitbulls now.