Why it’s not okay to let your boyfriend carry your handbag: life’s lessons learnt beyond the furry pink tote

Why it’s not okay to let your boyfriend carry your handbag: life’s lessons learnt beyond the furry pink tote

Six months ago, my colleague Aaron wrote this incredibly insightful article called ‘A good boyfriend will NOT carry his girlfriend’s handbag’. Today, I thought I would share my opinion, from a girl’s point of view.

First, let me be clear that I’m not a flowers-and-chocolates kind of girl. Of course I appreciate the occasional surprise gift, but I’m not fancy. I find more pleasure in receiving an air fryer than a Pandora charm bracelet; although I definitely am no domestic goddess (my cooking skills leave much to be desired).

At an age where everyone around me is getting engaged/married (even my younger brother is tying the knot soon), I know a lot of girls out there who dream of fairy-tale relationships and story-book proposals, because my Facebook feed is flooded with updates of shared links that revolve around the subject. That, and cute animal videos, which I honestly don’t mind.

South Korean cable TV network and broadcasting company JTBC has a show called ‘Abnormal Summit’, where non-Korean men living in Korea discuss Korean culture through the eyes of a foreigner. In one of the episodes, they started talking about the culture of guys carrying their girlfriend’s bags.

dsc_0463 Caught red-handed

Apparently, in Korea, it’s an unspoken expectation to have the guy carry their girlfriends’ handbags. During a date, when the girl arrives, she automatically hands over her bag to the guy. My friend, whose husband is Korean, also shared that it’s considered polite for the man to offer (or in her case, insist) to carry a girl’s handbag. Failing to do so (ie. allowing the girl to walk on the streets while carrying her own bag) will result in harsh glares from the elders, who think that he’s being a chauvinistic pig.

In Malaysia, it’s no different either. Especially when there is a misconception that girls should be ‘cute’ to be adored by the boyfriend. We’re career women – we earn a decent-sized salary, we drive ourselves around and we are perfectly capable of lifting 20lbs per side doing bar squats. Why is that we constantly feel the need to dumb ourselves down just so that we can be more ‘lovable’?

I think Malaysian guys are generally really nice. But sometimes, they’re too nice to the point of allowing their girlfriends to dictate their lives. That means no futsal, no DotA, no hanging out with the colleagues after work, no smoking, no drinking, no checking out other girls at the mall, no roadside rojak because it’s not insta-worthy.

And in place of these girlfriend-imposed bans, guys begin to accustom themselves to rom-com chick flicks at the cinema, hipster cafes, ice-cream parlours, atas food, hanging out with her BFFS and acting as designated driver + photographer and of course, not forgetting the art of bag-wielding, no matter how cute, pink or furry it may be (I jest – it’s usually a Longchamp; I’ve yet to see a girl allow her boyfriend to carry her Chanel).

I’m not saying that picking up new interests is a bad thing, but all things should be done in moderation. And handbag-carrying is not one of them. But as in all relationships, equality is what makes you grow closer as adults.

As girls, we shouldn’t be setting unrealistic standards for guys to follow, because what we see in movies doesn’t exist for real. I’ve learned that if you really want something, speak up and get to the point. Guys don’t get all the coy hinting and veiled requests – if you want it, you’ve gotta ‘be a real woman’ and ask. Appreciate your independence. Value your personal space and stop stifling him (because that’s what mothers are for).

To Malaysian guys, your girlfriend is not always right. Spoiling her by giving in to her every whim is just like giving a crying child an iPad (to shut the child up). And whatever you do, please don’t offer to carry her handbag, especially if it’s a ‘sissy bag’. Let her learn to be independent, because when you’re not around, she functions perfectly well – there’s no reason for her to suddenly become a helpless damsel in distress when she’s with you.

24785B9400000578-0-image-a-28_1420622974684 No, Ian Somerhalder!

This video sums it up pretty well (although I must forewarn you that it is an ad for whisky).

humiliation The sweet scent of humiliation

And this one, although slightly rude, is also a wake-up call for both girls (and guys). Better be on your best behaviour, boys and girls, because this happened in Malaysia. Them ‘sissy bags’ belong on a hook in your room, not on your boyfriend’s shoulder.




  1. Paris B
    / Reply

    Well said, Michelle! Besides, no one carries my designer sh*t but me! 😀

    • Michelle Tan
      / Reply

      Thanks Paris B! Same here. My bag is MY bag. Heh.

  2. aarontang
    / Reply

    Ah… thanks for the mention Michelle :)

Leave a Reply