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August 2016
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purses for the ladies, laptops for the men

I’m sitting in the Detroit airport, on my way home from OLA, surfing the web and catching up on email on the laptop that might as well be surgically attached to my body given how seldom it is out of arm’s reach. They just made a pre-boarding announcement for my flight:

Please be aware that due to the restricted baggage room on this flight passengers are limited to a single carry-on item. This means ladies may only carry their purses and men may only carry their laptop cases.

I’m too sick and tired to go bug them about it, but I felt this had to be noted somewhere. And yes, I’m aware they probably “didn’t mean it that way” but when you make sexist comments, even unconsciously, you’re reinforcing the normalcy of sexist assumptions.

I sure hope my sense of humor returns after I get home and get some sleep.


Comment from Dorothea Salo
Time: February 2, 2008, 3:24 pm


I would have been strongly tempted to go up and ask whether I was permitted MY laptop case. Purse, sheesh, I haven’t carried a purse since high school!

A vastly less offputting announcement would have been “Laptop cases, purses, and backpacks all count as your single carry-on item.”

Comment from Edward Corrado
Time: February 2, 2008, 3:41 pm

I was recently on a plane, and I noticed the sign about carry-ons said something like “you can bring one purse (men’s or ladies).” I don’t know the exact language but it definite had both men or ladies listed separately, and pertaining to purses. I thought that was interesting (Why not just purses, I don’t know?) although I didn’t think much about it. Anyway, it seems more enlightened then the airport in Detroit. I never actually took a count, but I seem to see a significant number of woman with laptops in the airport.

Comment from Kelly
Time: February 2, 2008, 6:37 pm

They did mean it that way! I’ve heard that announcement so many times and never actually listened to what it said…I wonder if they even realize how it comes out.

Comment from David F
Time: February 3, 2008, 3:23 pm

I was once stopped on my way into a grocery store by the staff at the service desk. I was told that I had to check my “bag”, which was much smaller than some of the overnight-bag-sized purses that women were carrying past me while I argued.

They let me by eventually, but I should have just quietly asked for the manager and let him (probably) know exactly why I was never returning.

Comment from Dan Scott
Time: February 3, 2008, 10:51 pm

Ugh. That’s just sad. I’m sorry you had to experience that.

I hope you got your sleep! I’m still trying to catch up on mine…

Comment from Jonathan Rochkind
Time: February 4, 2008, 6:06 pm

Now I want a laptop bag that looks like a purse.

Comment from Bethany
Time: February 11, 2008, 8:18 pm

It’s times like these that I’m *glad* my mother bought me a laptop case with hot pink satin lining.

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