Chivalrous or sissy? Why do women ask their boyfriends to carry their handbags?

We often see this phenomenon but some of us find it weird. Do you?

Why do Singaporean women ask their boyfriends to carry their handbags for them?

Is it because their handbags are heavy? Are they testing whether their men submit to them? Isn’t it a form of emasculation?

We posed these questions on Quora and we got a few different responses.

Support or Scoring Points?

Tom Willis, an American married to a Singaporean, said that it is an Asian phenomenon. He does it too, without being asked.

Tom said he feels that there needs to be give and take in any relationship. Moreover, helping your partner carry her bag may score you some points.

Chivalry not Dead

Jerlyne Ong responded, “In North America, guys hold doors. In Asia, they hold bags.”

“I’ve had guys carry my bags for various reasons, from seeing me struggle with the weight of the bag, to simply being courteous. This is not restricted to only boyfriends. Male friends in secondary school did that too, [‘Come la, your bag look so heavy; I carry for you.’] ” she said.

“I’ve also had guys insist on carrying my bag, to the point where they try to yank it off my shoulder. So, no, there is no territory-marking or submission involved,” she added.

Still, she admits that she does know of one friend who does that to her boyfriend “for the wrong reasons”.

Jerlyne’s parting shot: “If carrying a handbag emasculates you and somehow makes you less of a man, perhaps you should worry about that more than a small, simple bag.”

Another person named Ying Ying commented, “But that happens to [sic] dependent girls only. An independent girl will never let or ask her boyfriend to do so.”

Other Views

Another person had posted similar questions: What is the story behind the common practice in Singapore of guys carrying their female partners’ handbags? How long has it been going? How did it get started? Is it unique to Singapore?

Bo Fiona Ren responded, “I think allowing your boyfriend to carry your bag is really an expression of trust and co-dependence. Growing up in a Chinese family instilled in me that good guys will ‘take care of / care for you’. (Duh, they should regardless of Western or Eastern culture.)”

“For me, admitting that my bag is too heavy, uncomfortable, hurting my back, is a big step in my nouveau-feminist Asian-American mind because it’s an admission of help. Admitting that you can’t do it all to someone else builds trust,” she said.

She added, “I would also like to point that out that bag carrying is a privileged permission you give to someone special. I would never just let any of my guy friends help me carry my bags even if it’s a 20-pounder hiking up the mountain.”

Joses Ho, whose profile states that he is born and bred in Singapore and has served National Service, said, “But girls wouldn’t freely let their partners carry their handbags unless they found it uncomfortable.”

“So the real question is, why do Singaporean females find their handbags too heavy? Is it the humid tropical climate? Or is it because there’s just too much in the handbag for the poor girl to shoulder?” he asked.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Drop us a personal message on our Facebook page at and share your thoughts with us.