Men Should Tell Me Where to Put My Purse

You know how Seinfeld was a show about "nothing"? I wish I could give them a nugget of a "nothing" story from my life. A fellow employee (who I had never met before this event) decided to stop by my desk one day and explain to me why he (that's right, this is a male in his 40s) knew where to place my purse in my desk.

In the Seinfeld version, let's place Elaine in my shoes. When this middle age gentleman approaches her about the misplacement of her purse. She looks at her well-loved large purse, which doubles as a laptop case (since taking work home is so much fun) and looks around her tiny desk with the tiny drawers. As she looks dumbfounded and asks for the man's name, he continues to profess that Elaine is just asking to be robbed by leaving her purse out (although it is neatly tucked in a corner, where no one can trip). As the gentleman continues he explains that his wisdom comes from his past experience where one woman he worked with had a $20 bill taken from her purse by another female coworker and how they were never friends again.

In my personal version of the story, I was a "good girl" and smiled and nodded along. Let's explore an alternate -- what would Elaine do?

Elaine's eyebrows furrow with frustration as she asks her coworker what a would-be robber would want from her purse. She explains that she rarely carries cash of significant value, but that these robbers probably want her tampons or chapstick! Or maybe someone wants to sneak in because they have found someone sponge worthy. As she frantically digs out her tampons, sponge, and chapstick from her purse to have him help her find a good hiding spot for all her valuables, the man begins to blush and mentions that maybe a smaller purse might be easier to fit in her small drawers. Sarcastically elated, Elaine says, "Ohhhh-ho-oh a smaller purse, stand up."

As Elaine drags the man down the hall, she gathers a smaller purse, a laptop case, a lunch bag, and a cup of coffee and loads them all onto her coworker. As they are about to leave the building she asks the doorman where the closest sidewalk that hasn't been shoveled, since it had just snowed after a lovely ice storm. Of course hilarity ensues as this poor gentleman slips while trying to balance everything (it's raining tampons!).

Elaine is catching up with Jerry in his apartment, and recalls how she just snapped. Jerry makes the mistake saying "I could handle all that." So the whole gang goes downstairs to see who can carry the most random items across icy pathways. Kramer gets the idea to sell this as a game where points are given for carrying different strategic things.

If we look closely at what may appear to be a misogynistic move on the surface (telling a woman what she should and should not do) is just really a few characters short of a sitcom. It's fine to call someone out if you don't agree, or to protect yourself. At the same time, we can give each other a little credit. If someone wants to put her large purse in the only place it fits, that's her call. If someone doesn't want to sit on their wallet all day and places it on his/her desk, that's that individual's call too. The individual may be seeing something that we don't (like the icy walk with tons of stuff to carry).

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