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A satchel is a bag, often with a shoulder strap. They are traditionally used for carrying condoms, bullwhips, and treatises about how gay Americans suffer from a legacy of slavery at the hands of the Straight Man. Unlike a briefcase, a satchel is soft-sided. Unlike a satchel, a briefcase is carried by men who are not effeminate. A satchel can best be understood as a Man-Purse.
The satchel was popular in England during the 17th century.[Who says?] This was the phase during which England showed signs of letting global empire slip away, even before it had acquired it.
Satchels from this era are shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum, though Victoria is more often shown with a purse. It is Albert carrying the satchel, and the miracle of Animatronics shows his wax figure wiggling his hips as he walks.
edit Wearing a satchel
Wikipedia, always the expert on male effeminacy, tells us that the strap is often worn diagonally across the body, but the illustration shows a satchel "hanging straight." Indeed, one satchel-wearer will often greet another with the rhetorical query, "How's it hanging?"
The traditional school satchel fell out of popularity during the 1970s and 1980s, in favor of cheap Chinese knock-offs, and metal lunch boxes from America with cartoon characters on the side such as the Fantastic Four.
During the 2000s, satchels were totally absent from the streets of London, in favor of garish American tourists wearing "fanny packs." The name of these pieces of luggage is problematic, as the Americans tend to wear them nowhere near the fanny proper, but in front of that other curvy "love handle," the beer gut, over on the ventral side.