Serbian man purse [sur-bee-uh n man purs]
Part of speech: n
Definition: small leather, faux leather or cloth carrying bag designed to accommodate personal items, carried by members of the male sex. Predominantly found sported by males in Serbia and the Balkans.
See man bag
Wander around Belgrade for a while and you will notice a strange thing: big, muscled men with leather purses. No you haven’t stumbled upon the Balkan equivalent of Love Parade, but the essential addition to any Serbian man’s fashion wardrobe: the Serbian man purse.
The phenomenon was pointed out to me some years ago by a Canadian colleague. Her brother, who worked at the embassy, had noticed the numberof men with bags in the city and came to call their appendages Serbian man purses. He’d apparently seen nothing like it in his native Canada and had deemed it necessary to coin the term. The same was true for England and I. Not since my days carrying satchels to school and wash bags for stays at my Nan’s had I seen anything of the sort. And so, from that day forth, the name kind of stuck.
I suppose it’s a fashion statement of sorts. People can tell what kind of guy you are from what’s on your arm, and these days it’s getting to be more than the women. The trouble is deciding which one to carry. There is a veritable cottage industry of man purses in the city: from your high-end Louis Vuitton clutch bags to market stall faux leather bum bags, Belgrade seems to be awash with these items. Even one of my English mates, who lives in Belgrade, has taken to carrying one.
But aren’t they at odds with the mentality of a typical Balkan man? Serbian guys are taught and expected to be tough and macho. Any indication that they are in touch with their “feminine side” is frowned upon. Serbian society continues to be deeply homophobic and it is ironic that such a symbol of femininity should be worn by so many guys, that otherwise, so visibly fit the Balkan mould. And how is it that this single item has managed to penetrate Serbian male fashion when all other items of metrosexuality have failed?
Ok, I’ll admit it. They are useful. After all, you can keep your mobile, wallet, ciggies, lighter, keys, lip-gloss and mirror together, safe and clutched close to your chest. What self-respecting male wouldn’t carry one? Well, me for one. I just can’t help but associate them with mums, girlfriends and aunts, not guys. And it doesn’t matter how masculine they try to make them, purses will remain female accessories. Or perhaps I’m missing the point. Maybe they just want something to go with their shoes?
What went wrong with pockets?