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One of the unwritten rules of etiquette dictates that a man should never look through a woman’s purse. The reason for this social norm is that a woman can hide her hoarding behind a need for privacy. The days of small clutches containing discreet makeup compacts and lipstick are gone. Maybe back in the ‘50s, looking through a woman’s purse would have been a thrilling insight into the female mind. In 2014, sticking your arm into someone’s Hobo bag (yes, that is an actual brand) could result in the loss of a limb.
Surprisingly, useful items (phone, wallet, keys) make up only about 5 percent of the contents of a purse. Let me demystify the remaining items.
Fun science fact: if you took all the receipts from my purse and lined them up end-to-end, it would form a chain that could wrap around the Earth twice. Obviously, I will never throw any of these receipts away. Why should I? I could need one to return that shirt I bought four months ago. I definitely can’t throw away all those restaurant receipts because I may need them in case I ever have to jot down a message. It’s practically recycling, and my hoarding is saving the planet.
Bobby pins are sold in packs of 100. Even though I frequently buy them in bulk, when it comes time to style my hair, I can never find any. Anywhere, at all. But think of a woman’s purse as the Room of Requirement. Whenever I can’t find what I need, I know that I will find it somewhere deep in the bottom of my purse. The depths of a purse are where bobby pins–and their near extinct cousins, the scrunchie–roam free. Most women also keep supplies on hand to deal with their biology, but it is important to know that women never, under any circumstances, carry anything with them that they would actually use. Every woman has one tampon in her purse that will never be used. It’s often a freebie from a gym bathroom with a cardboard applicator and enough absorbency to soak up an oil spill. It should be thrown out, but it’s kept in case of an emergency, and even then, it won’t be used unless a few Xanax are on hand.
The real reason that we don’t want anyone sorting through our personal belongings is because we don’t want them to know that we are actually carrying around glorified garbage bags. Yes, I pay excessive amounts of money for a leather, designer trash bag. The major component of any woman’s purse is pure junk. Imagine 50 opened Nature Valley Bars mixed in with gum mixed in with straw wrappers. We all know we should clean it out, but, uhhh, effort. And also it could provide sustenance in case I am ever trapped in my car in an ice storm.
Back in college, my dad bought me pepper spray. I’ve fortunately never had a reason to use it. (Well, except for the one time I accidentally sprayed myself. FYI: It’s effective.) But if I did need to use it, I would have to ask the perp to stop for a minute to give me time to dig around and find it. A better defense would just be to turn my purse inside out, dump the contents, and disappear in a cloud of trash. It wouldn’t be a glamorous exit, but I’m sure Olivia Benson would approve of my quick thinking and resourcefulness.