Accessory: an object or device that is not essential in itself but adds to the beauty, convenience, or effectiveness of something else auto accessories clothing accessories.

Tool:  a handheld device that aids in accomplishing a task.

Accessory: assisting under orders of another.

Tool: a slang Term for Penis

Accessory. It’s a funny word. Growing up, an accessory was something I thought I would add to my outfit to look prettier. I would wear this plastic flower in my hair every day, and slowly the flower would get bigger and bigger as I switched it out for a new and improved version as often as I could. I would also never be seen out of the house without a necklace. I felt utterly naked without one. My friends had their ears pierced since they were babies. As soon as they were born, their parents’ first instinct was to give her a forever long accessory. Little jewels that could be hidden or shown to catch the attention of anyone that looked at them. It seems that an accessory is just an appendage of the body that serves no function but to look pretty… or, in terms of crime, a critical component to assist in something. An accessory of murder is both the knife and the person assisting.

Tool. I would say that’s an even funnier word. It’s slang for Penis (which, let’s be honest, that a whole other conversation); it’s a particularly under-the-radar insult for an obnoxious person (again, typically male). We would understand a tool is a hammer to a contractor, a baking sheet to a cook, or chalk to a rock climber.

But what is the difference between the two? I would like to say context, but honestly, I see these two words meaning the same thing.

Let’s think about context quick; the baseline of my thesis is essentially “context is key”, after all. Take a Hammer. A hammer is a stick with one weighted end (hard or soft) used to help the person blunt force drive one object into another (a nail and a 2x4, for example). That hammer helps someone in construction or the average DIY’er to do a task that would be painful or impossible without it (trust me, I know, I’ve tried to use several staple guns as a replacement when someone stole mine). It is helpful as a tool to create, but it is also an identifier, something that accessories do pretty well. The way the hammer is used in motion, I believe, lends more to the argument of it acting solely as a tool or accessory; the object itself exists to get used. The hammer as an accessory, and identifier, tells us much more about a person; after all isn’t an accessory, just a “decoration”. We can identify how they approach the hammer, what materials the hammer is made out of, is there paint on the hammer? or how callused are the hands of the hammer operator?

Why does the distinction between accessory and tool even matter? Well, it’s simple, an accessory isn’t deemed to be essential or useful. By looking at accessories that are tools in my thesis, I am starting to subvert that narrative. A bag defines a person, and people define space.