Handbags have been one of the necessities of life for women ever since recorded history began. It was important to have the items that one used often close at hand and articles found in a purse have ranged from ornate sewing scissors (17th century)to today’s mandatory cell phone and credit cards.
Why is it that women carry their belongings around and men just have their wallets? My opinion is that the need to carry something to hold goods is a fundamental need rooted in the biology of females. Who is the main caregiver of the family from prehistory to the present? Yes, I know that traditional roles are gradually evolving but what person in the “traditional” family is the most responsible for taking care of everyone? In most cases, it it the woman who gets people organized and make sure everyone has whatever they need.
Biologically speaking, the female of our species takes care of her offspring and makes sure that all needs will be taken care of once the home is left. I believe that this has evolved into women carrying all that they need and what everyone else could possibly want in their handbag. To illustrate – when you go out with a male friend do you ask him for tissues, pen, or paper? No – you ask another female. Another nuturer is more likely to have some basic necessities than a male.
Am I saying that there is a basic “purse carrying” gene? No – what I am saying is that, biologically speaking, females are the caregivers of the world and have always had this role thrust upon them since the beginning of Homo sapiens. It is our destiny (both physically and psychologically) to make sure that the world is in order. We can’t handle the entire planet but we do our best to organize our own particular sphere! Our “caregiving” instincts are attuned to others and, if we fight this destiny, there is a feeling of things not being “quite right” around us. So enjoy carrying your handbag and know that you are making the global community a better place for all!
Henrietta is a handbag designer and can be found at