WORLD TRAVEL- Sexism
on the road
Backpack Theory of Ugliness
Colin Todhunter in India
from Denmark, had been imparting the benefits of his entertaining "backpack
theory of gender". Luckily there were no women around to hear him.
Simone De Beauvoir, Germaine Greer and a whole host of sociologists,
psychiatrists and commentators have tried to pinpoint and explain gender
differences down the years, but not from the perspective of the backpack.
Anyone who has travelled in India for some time may often notice a huge
difference between the size of foreign mens and womens backpacks.
Soren asked why is it that, in general, mens backpacks are manageable
and are usually half the size of a womans? A womans backpack
is usually a towering hulk; a skyscraper. The wearer is hunched over
unable to lift her head and with eyes glued to the ground. I had some
empathy with Soren's view. I had often noted the same thing - women
struggling on buses, trains and along the street under the strain of
an oversized pack. And every-time I enter a womans hotel room,
the place is strewn with clothes, toiletries and everything except the
kitchen sink. If the backpack looked gigantic from the outside then
the contents when spread out are mind-boggling.
Soren had a theory for this phenomenon. A womans backpack
is magical. It is a kind space-time-warp thing whereby it is able to
contain ten times the volume it appears it can hold from the outside.
I could understand this. It reminded me of an old television programme
from the UK called Dr Who. The Doctor travelled through space in a police
box. From the outside the thing was barely big enough to hold one person.
But as soon as you got inside the thing was cavernous, holding computers
and all other essential equipment for the serious time traveller. The
name of the thing was the Tardis. Soren was providing me with the benefit
of the Tardis explanation of the backpack.
But what is in the backpack that requires it to be so big in the first
place? Well Soren began to explain - "It is all to do with toiletries
and anti-ugly cream." According to his warped view a woman's backpack
is stuffed full of lipstick, shampoo, conditioner, hair remover, nail
varnish and...anti-ugly cream." Anti-ugly cream? What was he on
He continued - "The uglier the girl, then the bigger the backpack".
I think that anti-ugly cream in Soren's view was the variety of creams
that women use to put on their faces, probably ranging from moisturisers
to anti-aging types of oil. So this was why they travel India while
buried under mountainous backpacks! According to Soren, there is a direct
correlation between how beautiful or ugly a girl is and the amount of
anti-ugly cream needed - and therefore the size of the pack. The ugliest
girls have the biggest packs, and the strain makes them wrinkle their
face thereby making them uglier and necessitating the need for ever
increasing amounts of anti-ugly cream and bigger backpacks. The more
they backpack around India, the uglier they become. A no-win situation.
Sure, Soren was being sexist, and he knew it, but didn't care. Anyway,
he should know what he was talking about - he was one of the ugliest
men I have ever seen. A day later he checked out of the hotel. I watched
him stagger under the size and weight of his towering backpack, no doubt
stuffed with the male equivalent of anti-ugly cream.
© Colin Todhunter in India
Journeys in Hacktreks
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