Who will come? Who will use it on a regular basis?
March 4, 2019 7:06 AM   Subscribe

 
“I’m making my own man cave in my shed … I’m trying to do it as cheap as possible, only a $200 budget,” writes one user. “Do you guys have any suggestions [?] There’s no room for a pool table and I’ve made benches out of old pallets.”

Buddy... just ask if you can hang out inside.
posted by stinkfoot at 7:21 AM on March 4, 2019 [17 favorites]


This is amusing to me since, to my knowledge, no man I know actually has (or has fantasies) of having a man cave. However, I have one friend who has a knitting room and a woman on my kickball team has a room she calls her "lady cave" with a fire place and she often sends our group chat pictures of her hanging out, having a drink by the fire, and cuddling with her dogs in the "lady cave."
posted by lucy.jakobs at 7:25 AM on March 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


Yeah, that whole paragraph made me cringe:

Today, the r/mancave subreddit, which has just 21,700 subscribers as of writing, is full of half-realized dreams. “I’m making my own man cave in my shed … I’m trying to do it as cheap as possible, only a $200 budget,” writes one user. “Do you guys have any suggestions [?] There’s no room for a pool table and I’ve made benches out of old pallets.” “Since my divorce, every room has become my man cave,” writes another. One man-cave-in-progress has a giant wall hanging set aside to display dozens of tools, but so far the poster only owns one hammer and a crescent wrench. Another is a dark corner with a single red leather chair, a framed photo of Charlie Chaplin, and a bottle of pink lemonade Svedka.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:25 AM on March 4, 2019 [22 favorites]


I have jokingly referred to my music room as my "man cave" but it is really just a home studio. The room with the projector and the video game systems is called the "den" and grumpybearbride and I hang out there all the time, modeling sims after our friends.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:29 AM on March 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


And lets not forget the most notorious man cave of 2009 (at least in the Albany, NY area): The State Worker Man Cave.
posted by dannyboybell at 7:31 AM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


I refer to our basement rec room as my "nerdcave" because it contains my Lego collection as well as my other various collectible toy stuff and junk. It used to do a fine job of containing the tiny bricks and keeping them from spreading throughout the house. Until Fleebnork Jr. got old enough for them. Now they're everywhere.

Send help.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:32 AM on March 4, 2019 [19 favorites]


Whatever the gender driven sociological context (which I do think is genuinely interesting), a DIY project that requires friends to enjoy is a perfect storm of things middle aged people are going to think they want but never finish.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:33 AM on March 4, 2019 [79 favorites]


I don't want a man cave, but I do fantasize about a game room to house my 200+ board games, and a nice table, and some cool art on the walls, and and... yeah. House and paycheck aren't big enough. So, we make due. And it certainly isn't about excluding non-mans.
posted by papercake at 7:36 AM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


The Man Cave has always been a contradictory idea to me. It's pitched as a way for men to assert their traditional manliness, but necessarily involves retreat from the common areas of the house, ceding all territory to the lowly women. So it seems pathetic on multiple levels, but most confusingly, it's pathetic in a way that would seem most threatening to the type of person it's ostensibly aimed at.
posted by skewed at 7:37 AM on March 4, 2019 [47 favorites]


That Totinos "ad" was more fun than I expected it to be.
posted by salt grass at 7:41 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm.. a dude, and I have a complex relationship with this idea. Right now, the living room in my one bedroom apartment pretty much is my hobby/relaxation space. I design electronics and build rc airplanes/helicopters, so I've got two workbenches, a computer desk, a bunch of bookshelves (about 50/50 books and storage), and a kitchen table that's also holding my laser printer because where on earth does one put a printer? No couch, much to the chagrin of the woman I'm dating. Square footage is expensive here, and I know what I value.

Clearly, based on social norms, if I am ever in a cohabitating relationship with someone who has traditional ideas about home decor, I am going to have to find/construct a place to be me that isn't "the livingroom." Is that "pathetic" or "keeping the peace?"
posted by Alterscape at 7:41 AM on March 4, 2019 [11 favorites]


So it seems pathetic on multiple levels, but most confusingly, it's pathetic in a way that would seem most threatening to the type of person it's ostensibly aimed at.

Well, this is also the fundamental foundation of fascism too: the Other is simultaneously pathetic/weak and an existential threat the likes of which had never before been seen. Women have always been regarded in this same way. We are both weak and ineffectual while also being a domineering threat to the very core of manliness.

Anyway, we call our hobby room the office even though no actual work gets done there, and our son calls it his makerspace. It needs a lot of work, and I do dream of some sort of cozy, functional space that is all my own (I, a non-dude) because, like, doesn't everyone who has fiddly hobbies and a small house?
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:48 AM on March 4, 2019 [38 favorites]


Most of these softball zeitgeist articles are pretty weak but this one gets it I think.

There are legit organic not trend-driven man caves out there. And lots of guys want that feeling of having someplace to go so the later man caves are aspirational. As the article says, a lot of self-professed man caves don't even exist, they're just some sort of suburban El Dorado, a mythical place where Homo Suburbanis' feelings of existential irrelevance will disappear. And then came the commercial exploitation where dudes got sold something they didn't even know they wanted that they had to have just because gender identify somehow trumps all in tastemaking.

For my part I have corner of a room in our basement with a desk and some shelves where I keep junk that's mine. I will say that the one upside of being an adult is that you get to keep all your toys in a different room than the one you sleep in.
posted by GuyZero at 7:49 AM on March 4, 2019 [11 favorites]


Is that "pathetic" or "keeping the peace?"

A hobby room is a pretty legit construct if you can afford the space to have one. I think that's pretty different than a second, smaller TV room with some framed football jerseys on the walls.
posted by GuyZero at 7:51 AM on March 4, 2019 [12 favorites]


I find that the logic that accompanies the man cave rhetoric assumes a) the rest of the house is the woman's space and/or b) woman can't have hobbies that require space and maybe even a separate room. That drives me bonkers.

If you can have space, why wouldn't you? Especially if, like soren_lorensen said, you have fiddly hobbies and a small house!
posted by lucy.jakobs at 7:52 AM on March 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


I find that the logic that accompanies the man cave rhetoric assumes

Are you really shocked that a lot of mainstream America is sociologically trapped in the 50's?
posted by GuyZero at 7:53 AM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


I sounded fightier than I meant to in my first comment. Sorry about that. I pretty much agree with what you're saying, GuyZero and lucy.jacobs. (Especially re: non-gendered hobby rooms in general).
posted by Alterscape at 7:55 AM on March 4, 2019


No worries. Although you do need to get the laser printer off your kitchen table.
posted by GuyZero at 7:57 AM on March 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


This entire concept gives me brain cramps.

The prototypical "man cave" is a celebration of crass corporate sports, a frat-boy attitude toward alcohol, tacky pop-culture merchandise, and objectification of women. And that version of American masculinity – which is, sadly, the dominant one – can fuck right off.

It also speaks volumes about the suburban American model of domesticity, marriage, and the nuclear family. Exactly what it says, I'm not sure – but I don't think it's anything favorable.

On the other hand, I kind of resent that record collections and musical instruments are being lumped into the "man cave" phenomenon. A good friend of mine has a room full of synthesizers. His wife has a room right next door, with her bass, amp and cabinet, cello, a few other instruments, and a desk where she writes. There's also a corner of the basement where he builds one-of-a-kind synths (they're as much art pieces as instruments), which he sells on commission to musicians around the world. These aren't "caves" (of whatever gender); they're studios, because creative people need a place to create.

So, like, I'm completely in favor of having spaces in the home to pursue one's passions. But I'm not in favor of grown-ass men being passionate about bro stuff.

a lot of mainstream America is sociologically trapped in the 50's

BASICALLY THIS. And it's why I loathe the suburban culture from which this stuff emanates. You couldn't pay me to join that world.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:57 AM on March 4, 2019 [39 favorites]


The Man Cave has always been a contradictory idea to me. It's pitched as a way for men to assert their traditional manliness, but necessarily involves retreat from the common areas of the house, ceding all territory to the lowly women. So it seems pathetic on multiple levels, but most confusingly, it's pathetic in a way that would seem most threatening to the type of person it's ostensibly aimed at.

That's just one of dozens of examples of traditional masculinity revanchism that's manifested since the last big recession. Traditional working class jobs are disappearing, women are becoming primary bread-winners in many households, and there's a growing class of men who are terrified of what that means for their identities. They're scared, and since many of them don't have the best emotional coping skills, that often manifests itself as anger. The tumor-like growth (and politicization) of pickup trucks and 'rolling coal', the rise of the alt-right and of Trump, all of these are symptoms.

There's a bunch of men out there absolutely terrified that their world and values are slipping away, they've got no new definition of what it means to be a man in our society, and they've gone a bit insane as a result.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:00 AM on March 4, 2019 [26 favorites]


It seems like there are two different visions of the man cave.

The media/games/alcohol marketing bonanza, which requires friends to come over to play, appears to have come and gone over the last decade or two.

The library/study/garage that is the place where a man is by default alone seems healthy though, and given its venerable history in the West(*) I doubt it’s going anywhere. Not every man wants a retreat, but many do.


(*) This would be an interesting cross-cultural topic. I know that the concept of a place in the home where Dad is not to be interrupted exists throughout Europe and at least in the upper classes in India, but what about the rest of the world?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:00 AM on March 4, 2019 [10 favorites]


That Totinos "ad" was more fun than I expected it to be.

It's a trilogy and you must watch all of it. (link to playlist)
posted by Think_Long at 8:00 AM on March 4, 2019 [15 favorites]


I sleep in a racing car, do you? (SLSimpsons)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:02 AM on March 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


Me: come, friends, come into my man cave

F/X: Panning shot detailing Spencer Tunick horror that is salt grass' cave made of men
posted by salt grass at 8:02 AM on March 4, 2019 [11 favorites]


surprised nobody has pointed out that a man cave is an excellent place to host one of those popular new heterosexual masturbation clubs
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:04 AM on March 4, 2019 [90 favorites]


GuyZero, I know, right? Great, now I'm going to be playing home organization tetris in my head all day at work. Thanks! (nb: actual, not sarcastic thanks).

I think Tell Me No Lies and GuyZero articulated something important re: "bro game/beer hangout spaces" vs "hobby rooms" though I'd want to add lucy.jakobs' qualifier that "space to contain the mess of fiddly hobbies away from Socially Acceptable Entertaining Spaces" is not a gendered concept (nor should it be).
posted by Alterscape at 8:05 AM on March 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Eh, I think man-caves have been around for a while but they just called them “the garage.”

But also- we have a fully furnished tasteful man-nook in our house, and the problem- and why I suspect so many of these languish unfinished- is that the men in that age range just don’t have the relationships and friendships that they used to. Work, the place most men historically acquired these connections, has become more transient. You rarely have multiple years to develop friendships, especially in lower wage jobs. And on the job, Taylorism means there’s less opportunities to have social exchanges.

So silly as it sounds, I do weep a bit for the man cave of yesteryear- a time when lonely men were not quite so lonely, and were less susceptible to online radicalization. I’d far rather a physical one with terrible beer signs than a digital one with terrible ideas.
posted by corb at 8:06 AM on March 4, 2019 [39 favorites]


A workshop/studio is really the antithesis of the man-cave, which was very specifically sold to the public as a place for consumption of televised sports/movies/TV, in a setting of high-end AV equipment, luxury recliners, beer, and sports/beer memorabilia. Any setting that includes a means of creating or building doesn't fit in with that.
posted by skewed at 8:07 AM on March 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


Having a space that's your own is important when living with other people. Even if your hobbies and aesthetics are horrible, you deserve a chance to enjoy them without ridicule, assuming other family members have similar opportunities.

But, more importantly for me, the existence of the word "man cave" is pretty useful when figuring out who I don't want to spend time talking to.
posted by eotvos at 8:08 AM on March 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


#ReclaimTheManCave
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:08 AM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Putting a TV in the garage or game room or whatever was the genesis of the man cave, so it seems a bit odd to me to say it is exclusively for consumption.
posted by wierdo at 8:10 AM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


“Man caves” and “Mom caves” are just a plot by Big Cave to sell twice as many personal-cave artefacts, in pink and gunmetal.
posted by acb at 8:11 AM on March 4, 2019 [49 favorites]


I find that the logic that accompanies the man cave rhetoric assumes a) the rest of the house is the woman's space and/or b) woman can't have hobbies that require space and maybe even a separate room

Huh. To me it implies the opposite. If one partner gets a room that means the other does too. In my own life that has manifested in one case as her "craft room" and in another her "sewing room". In both cases I got the "workshop". Everything else was shared.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:12 AM on March 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


Having a separate, semi-private space for hobbies and activities that call for a separate, semi-private space is both reasonable and in some ways considerate.

Calling that space a "Man Cave" reeks of the kind of panicked gender insecurity that has led perfectly normal genderless items like bags to become Manbags as a result of the creeping fear that unless you label everything you own with a visible penis then someone somewhere might accuse you of being feminine.
posted by kyrademon at 8:14 AM on March 4, 2019 [33 favorites]




I don't have a link, but in the past few years there was a local initiative in Britain to get elderly men with few supports together in a shed every week, where they would work with wood and other traditionally male crafts. It apparently gave them a lot of social supports of the kind that they wouldn't have reached out to get as such. They weren't gathering to wallow in manliness; they were gathering to do.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:15 AM on March 4, 2019 [16 favorites]


The decline of the man cave was a direct result of poor safety standards in the late 90s and early aughts that lead to frequent man cave-ins and the resultant loss of life and masculinity. Does no one else remember this?
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:15 AM on March 4, 2019 [54 favorites]


I grew up with the idea of men having a "den", which has cavelike connotations (although it's usually set up as a sort of office), as well as the home workshop (occasionally, as with the den, actually useful for its declared purpose, if the dude has the corresponding skills and/or need for it), and, of course, that middle-class finished basement standby, the "rec room" with a little bar.

But the term "man cave" has never seemed really legit--I'm not surprised that it started out as a joke in a newspaper column and got latched onto both by guys desperate to find uses for all the superfluous space in their McMansions and by pop-up consultants eager to cash in on a trend that, in theory, should be an artless and natural extension of its occupant's masculinity. This was the same decade (more or less) that we got The Man Show, the show that gave dudes without any bros some TV bros to hang out with. I get that, in theory, it's not a workshop or home office, but I wonder if the real differentiation is that it feeds off the idea that there might be something wrong with a dude just hanging out by himself, not just "getting away from the lady" but getting away from everyone. Except for the rec room, that's what those original dudespaces were really for.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:17 AM on March 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


the kind of panicked gender insecurity that has led perfectly normal genderless items like bags to become Manbags

As a man who has, for over a decade, worn an over-the-shoulder bag and gotten lots and lots of snide comments and side-eye for it, I am not so sure that they were ever "genderless."

See: It's not a purse, it's European!
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:18 AM on March 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


The subtitle of the piece - "The trendiest home renovation project of the aughts is now a shrine to the fantasy of male friendship" - really hit me.

Raise your hand if you're a guy who has never had a clue how to talk to or make friends with other guys.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:19 AM on March 4, 2019 [27 favorites]


There's a bunch of men out there absolutely terrified that their world and values are slipping away, they've got no new definition of what it means to be a man in our society, and they've gone a bit insane as a result.

I don't think it's that complex. I think that since forever the American view has been of household, domestic space as being the wife's domain. The home is a stereotypically feminized space. And men were supposed to enjoy that while they were there and go off to the masculinized space at work. And the man cave is just a small assertion of stereotypical masculinity in the domestic space.

If anything it's a reaction to the entry of women in the workpace - gone are the days of pin-up girl calendars at work etc so men have had their masculinized paces taken away outside of the home. So they feel the need to have some sort of hyper-masculine space. But it's all predicated on such a microscopically narrow view of masculinity that it quickly becomes its own satire.
posted by GuyZero at 8:19 AM on March 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


This is a working home studio, not a midlife crisis fantasy amplifier fortress, but session guitarist Tim Pierce has the best cave
posted by thelonius at 8:19 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


For some of the men I know who have a man cave (which they always refer to with droll, self-deprecating verbal air quotes), one of the reasons they enjoy having a separate space is literally the decor: it's the only place in the house that isn't 'decorated' in flower prints, etc.
posted by PhineasGage at 8:20 AM on March 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


The 'gendered sign collection' areas in the many home decor stores are still freaking huge (I mean how many people need a metal sign that jokes about beer or messy kitchen/house?) so the profit margin on them must be insanely high or the market hasn't shrank quite so much to declare them dead yet.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:20 AM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I refer to my man-bag as "my purse". It's my tiny act of genderfucking.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:20 AM on March 4, 2019 [15 favorites]


One of the darkest parts of performatively masculine culture of the last 30 years or so is how much of it boils down to a fantasy of having friends you like and see often. Another example that I've heard argued is that one of the factors behind these guys' appreciation of Mafia movies is how much they usually feature scenes of a bunch of men hanging out and having a good time in each other's company, and that's really the fantasy. Most men, certainly most men in the stage of life where you'd be considering a mancave, don't really have access to that kind of social group on a regular basis, and a bunch of these weird cultural artifacts of 21st century masculinity are maladaptive reactions to that fact distorted by misogyny/homophobia/etc.
posted by Copronymus at 8:21 AM on March 4, 2019 [78 favorites]


one of the reasons they enjoy having a separate space is literally the decor: it's the only place in the house that isn't 'decorated' in flower prints, etc.

As happy as I am to crap on man-caves we could equally ask why domestic decor is often so hyper-feminized.

I, for one, am extremely happy with my Scandinavian modern decor which makes visitors think that my entire family is genderless cyborgs who own a birch tree farm somewhere.
posted by GuyZero at 8:22 AM on March 4, 2019 [100 favorites]


Putting a TV in the garage or game room or whatever was the genesis of the man cave, so it seems a bit odd to me to say it is exclusively for consumption.

Wherever the general trend of separate spaces for manly activities originated, the specific "man cave" idea, if you buy the article and the preliminary research, was a product of professional sports marketing in the 2000's. Obviously, there are going to be some drift in what the term means to different people, but while the term had any popular currency, I think it was pretty strongly associated with normalizing and valorizing consumption of mass media products.
posted by skewed at 8:24 AM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


'gendered sign collection' areas in the many home decor stores are still freaking huge

And... that does go both ways... The sheer amount of signs marketed at both women and men are that are "just so / twee" is frankly disgusting. (After browsing a "lobby of a hobby" store last fall, all I wanted to do was start my own signage company to sell subversive opposites to these generic "feel good" platitudes...)
posted by jkaczor at 8:25 AM on March 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


"Man caves" are almost definitionally aspirational, but a lot of what people have in suburban houses is aspirational. Hell, suburban houses in general are aspirational. They're chock full of features that are suggestive of a lifestyle that the people living in them, by and large, don't actually experience.

Drive out to any McMansion farm in the far exurbs of a Northeast city and you'll see row after row of houses with "Great For Entertaining!" kitchens — as though you're going to have any time for entertaining anyone, after your 90-minute-each-way slog in traffic. You're not gonna see that fucking kitchen in daylight most of the year, who gives a shit if it has a subway tile backsplash or space for six counter-height barstools? Or a formal dining room with a table big enough that you need a megaphone to talk from one end to the other—perfect for leaving piles of mail on, because you know damn well everyone's going to eat in the kitchen (because lets face it, nobody is going to wait for your road-ragey ass to roll in so they can eat; they'll all have eaten separately, and you'll be reheating leftovers, pal). But people go crazy for that stuff.

A lot of the aspirational features built into suburban homes are female-coded; the "man cave" is the weird, toxic/revanchist-masculine attempt at carving out an equally-stereotypical space for the hypothetical aspirations of frustrated capital-M Men. A place to watch football and drink beer with friends, as though you'll have the time to watch football or friends who'll be willing to drive all the way out to wherever you live to watch it with.

But it's entirely in keeping with the general flavor of tract-house new-construction suburbs and the stretched-thin grin over the yawning horror that is modern mortgaged-to-the-hilt America.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:26 AM on March 4, 2019 [70 favorites]


I, for one, am extremely happy with my Scandinavian modern decor which makes visitors think that my entire family is genderless cyborgs who own a birch tree farm somewhere.

At the risk of responding to myself, there is something about the fact that the scandanavian countries rank the highest in the world on gender equality and they simultaneously created this sleek genderless (by western standards anyway) design esthetic.
posted by GuyZero at 8:27 AM on March 4, 2019 [13 favorites]


My friend has a man cave complete with a hot dog machine from a convenient store and BMX bicycles hanging on the wall. You can make like 45 hot dogs at a time. It's pretty awesome. Also, the coke machine loaded with beer for a quarter isn't bad at all - if you like Budweiser.
posted by bradth27 at 8:27 AM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


I agree, jkazcor. If I never saw another sign about wine and/or coffee consumption and Mommy's approachability before either one, I would be happy.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:29 AM on March 4, 2019 [16 favorites]


I identify as a father, a musician, a nature boy, an art lover, a Kafka fanboy, etc. etc. A man? Not so much. And I like rooms with windows so I can see the trees and the sky. You couldn't pay me to enter a man cave, much less build one. (Oh, I can't build things, either. That's another problem.)
posted by kozad at 8:32 AM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


> In any case, the man cave has slipped out of popular culture for the most part, or set aside for ridicule — in the oddly sharp Totino’s Pizza Roll sketches written by Saturday Night Live’s Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, or as the main character trait of You’re the Worst’s bumbling orthopedic surgeon Vernon, who spends all of his time talking about boobs and begging peripheral men to hang out with him in his basement.

The first time I remember someone calling a room a "man cave" was toward the end of my time at university (mid-'90s), when a friend of a friend I didn't know very well (and didn't *want* to know any better than I did) was showing off his at a party. He made a point of proudly telling us that it was "off limits" to women, which was off-putting both because geez, dude, what are we, a bunch of 8 year-olds in a treehouse?, but also because at that age my focus was on *maximizing* the amount of time I spent with women.

A friend of my sister's has an awesome basement living room that sports many of the hallmarks of a man cave (a bar, nice stereo system, board game collection, vintage arcade cabinet), but without the sexism and exclusion.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:35 AM on March 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


I’ve lived alone for many years in spaces that are apparently quite masculine but I couldn’t tell you why. There are none of the accoutrement of traditional masculinity other than big solid furniture and a gaming console. All the colors are simple and tastefully matched, and there is little to no visual complexity.

I say that it’s masculine based on the fact that the most common comment I receive from men is "I wish I could live like this" and from women is "I could never live like this."

Given that, I can definitely see that men might want to carve out some space of their own. It’s not a passive aggressive commentary on social norms, it’s just wanting some space of their own.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:38 AM on March 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


This article really seemed to be about money, loneliness, and limitations. Like, I'd be interested in following the rise of media coverage about man caves in lockstep with the 2000s housing market boom. People could afford space to do dumb stuff!

And loneliness - people want, need companionship! This whole fantasy of male friendship thing is really sad, and telling. No nearby communities, nearby friends, or real shared activities - these men make spaces for activities that will never really happen.

And limitations - men's ability to make these spaces is just so tightly bound by really terrible gendered prompts. The tool display with only two tools on it was really... [chef kisses fingers]
posted by entropone at 8:41 AM on March 4, 2019 [10 favorites]


When we bought our lumpy little house from 1910, the basement was supposed to be the music studio for my husband, and in that sense it operates a bit as a man cave. In reality, he doesn't use it much (mental health stuff means that he's frequently unmotivated, and general flakiness of local musicians means he hasn't been able to get a band together and stay together) so he mostly is in the living room where the tv and his laptop are. This kind of has resulted in me ceding that space to him, in that if I want to be alone I retreat to the guest room where my comfy chair and the spare guest bed are. I've also sort of taken over the dining room, which is where I write Mefi Card Club cards and keep all my random spools of washi tape.

I wish he had a group of friends to come over and do stuff together. I'd gladly give him the whole living room to be the studio if it meant he had some peer support besides me. He could have all the beer signs he wanted, except it wouldn't be beer signs, it would be Monty Python posters.
posted by PussKillian at 8:42 AM on March 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


Out: Mancave
In: Brodoir
posted by xil at 8:43 AM on March 4, 2019 [11 favorites]


The man-cave is deeply problematic and stupid, especially considered as a locus for acting out the worst beer-commercial impulses of performative adolescent masculinity.

BUT! Having a space where one or several family members can leave out any kind of a project for a longer period of time than "until the family next needs the dining room table" is essential. "Hobby room" is a good term, as is "library" or "den."

And I agree that the absence of opportunities to create durable male friendships is a big part of the appeal of the man-cave. You can buy the physical trappings of cameraderie, even if you can't form the actual thing.

SPOILERS for Season 1 of The Good Place below:

A quick CTRL-F tells me the Good Place term "bud-hole" has not made it to the thread, but on my latest rewatch it occurred to me that Jason's term for his man-cave is not just the set-up for a recurring homophonic joke but also kind of a sad commentary on exactly this. He got Janet to give him all the things a bud-hole needs but -- at least when we are shown the bud-hole -- he doesn't have any buds to hang with. It's not a bud-hole at all. It's just the only place he can be himself to anybody, including himself. He's the most bud he's got.
posted by gauche at 8:47 AM on March 4, 2019 [20 favorites]


No reference to the more recent SNL skit, House Hunters? It's all about the man cave!
posted by filthy light thief at 8:47 AM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


Another is a dark corner with a single red leather chair, a framed photo of Charlie Chaplin, and a bottle of pink lemonade Svedka.
Wait. . . what? Maybe this man cave thing is more fun than I imagined.
posted by eotvos at 8:47 AM on March 4, 2019 [6 favorites]



And loneliness - people want, need companionship! This whole fantasy of male friendship thing is really sad, and telling. No nearby communities, nearby friends, or real shared activities - these men make spaces for activities that will never really happen.


And in the world of the "man cave" your wife isn't your friend. Let's not forget that. Your wife is someone you married for sex, man points and chores, someone you vaguely resent because even though you married her to get a servant/sex doll, she still tries to act like a person. Rather than escaping her "nagging" and her boring girly presence by, eg, getting a divorce, you'd much rather retreat to your "man cave" because if you actually left her you'd have to take care of yourself.

It's the old original "are straight people okay" moment.

~~
Obviously, having a partner doesn't and shouldn't mean that you don't need friends, but this received-masculinity stuff is all about how your wife/girlfriend is sort of a boring sex-chore-doll who you have to pacify with flowers and pretending to listen, and who you try to escape at every opportunity. Even when I was a little kid, I didn't understand why anyone would ever want to marry under those circumstances.
posted by Frowner at 8:48 AM on March 4, 2019 [49 favorites]


These aren't "caves" (of whatever gender); they're studios, because creative people need a place to create.

In the house I grew up in, my dad had a basement full of wood- and metal-working tools where he went to build things and my mom had an upstairs for my dad to track sawdust through.

why I suspect so many of these languish unfinished- is that the men in that age range just don’t have the relationships and friendships that they used to.

Or the income to have studios or the time free from work to acquire the interests or the skills to pursue those interests. So, lacking the income, the leisure, or the friends, they're sold the fantasies of a kind of eternally youthful, frathouse masculinity.

(There's a Plato's Mancave gag here somewhere, but it needs workshopping.)
posted by octobersurprise at 8:49 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Rather than a man cave, we have "the break room". It's adult space that's off limits to kids, both because we need to get away and we have delicate stuff that won't survive grabby hands. I have art projects and tools, my wife has puzzles and origami, there's a TV with video games, a bookcase full of board games and puzzles, and a futon for guests. It's sad that so much of our living space is ceded to kids, but at least we have an adult space of our own. I can't imagine wanting to get away from my wife enough to have my own special room, but we both need to escape parenting from time to time.
posted by Lighthammer at 8:56 AM on March 4, 2019 [15 favorites]


"The Man Cave has always been a contradictory idea to me. It's pitched as a way for men to assert their traditional manliness, but necessarily involves retreat from the common areas of the house, ceding all territory to the lowly women. So it seems pathetic on multiple levels, but most confusingly, it's pathetic in a way that would seem most threatening to the type of person it's ostensibly aimed at."

I always felt the poetry of a mancave was that, presumably, to the weirdo who wants one, that the room would be a distillation of all of the most desireable stuff in the house. A room to end all rooms, cede the rest of the house because all of the good stuff is in this one cool space. In practice it's more like a quarantine for whatever embarrassing sports mechandise, tacky faux-rusted metal signs, and other obnoxious kitsch antiquated-"dude"-shit is in the house. Then again, this kind of shitty decor sucks, but so does 90% of the crap you see in interior design magazines or pinterest posts, I'm not sure I could decide which kind of space I'd rather be in less. One decorated by shitty beer merch and other gas station rejects, or one that looks sterile except for the peppering of offensively useless objects and wicker balls and bowls filled with nothing but decorative rocks and sticks and oh my god did I get trapped in a stock photo as my hell?
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:09 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think that the dominance of feminine-coded imagery in the home-goods industry is an interesting point.

I'm a single cis guy who lives alone. My tastes in decorating lean toward the conventionally masculine, for lack of a better descriptor (or, at least, toward the gender-neutral).

And, IKEA notwithstanding, it's almost impossible to find decent home goods which aren't coded feminine (especially when it comes to things like window treatments and other textiles). Unless you're willing (and able) to pay for high-end specialty stuff.

So, I can appreciate that a man (or anyone, for that matter) who lives amidst floral prints and frilly curtains, and whose own aesthetic preferences don't align with that, would want their own space, where they could be among things that were beautiful to them. (If I lived in such a home, I would certainly want such a space.)

But it's also worth examining why home-goods lean so heavily feminine. And I guess it's something like this:

Start with the baseline that many men cohabitating with women will expect the women to take care of the decorating (if they give any thought to "decorating" at all).

Manufacturers, seeing this state of affairs, make goods that are meant to appeal to women.

And this becomes a self-reinforcing feedback loop. Those who prefer a more "masculine" aesthetic see little on the market which appeals to them, and so remain disengaged. And this helps to ensure that those who prefer a "feminine" aesthetic do end up doing most of the decorating. Which only confirms to the manufacturers that the market wants feminine stuff. Rinse and repeat.

I dunno. I like some of the stuff I see on /r/malelivingspace (which could maybe be named better, but whatever). Masculine decor doesn't have to mean dorm-room/sports-bar aesthetics. Believe it or not, men can express their manly male masculinity tastefully – and caring about living in an aesthetically pleasing environment doesn't mean your dick is going to fall off and turn into a pink feather boa.

If dudes want a space to express their own aesthetic sense, that's fine. I only start judging when their aesthetic sense apparently hasn't matured past their frat-house days.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:11 AM on March 4, 2019 [16 favorites]


I'm at the point of thinking the ideal arrangement is two houses next to each other. I like my stuff and I'm not really interested in sharing my space 24/7 anymore. Also avoids arguments over cleaning, shelf space, decor, and other sticky issues.
posted by emjaybee at 9:12 AM on March 4, 2019 [13 favorites]


I'm at the point of thinking the ideal arrangement is two houses next to each other.

Didn't many upper-class people in the Victorian era maintain separate apartments in the same home?

I don't see why today's McMansions couldn't be laid out to accommodate a similar custom.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:21 AM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


Raise your hand if you're a guy who has never had a clue how to talk to or make friends with other guys.

Honestly, the last time I really did that, outside of a common interest like a hobby or work, was in high school. The great equalizer/common ground for guys is supposed to be pro sports, and I have never been able to make myself interested in it.

Didn't many upper-class people in the Victorian era maintain separate apartments in the same home?

My grandparents, and many other married people of my acquaintance of a certain age, eventually got to the point (usually after the kids had moved out) that they took up separate bedrooms, ostensibly because it was the only way they could get to sleep.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:27 AM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


The flat I lived alone in until recently had a box room that I had set up as a mini workroom for whatever I was tinkering with at the time -- electronics, sewing, 3D printing, etc. It's a great luxury to be able to leave stuff in a ready-to-play-with state, because I found I massively increased how often I did some rewarding hobby work (as opposed to e.g. listlessly refreshing twitter) when it wasn't bookended by 15 minutes of setting up / tidying away.

I've just moved with my SO into a new place, and we're planning for a sofa bed to go in the living room so the guest room can be a shared hobby space -- her instruments, my electronics, and a few things we want to work on together. The idea of a "man cave" is built upon some pretty gross assumptions, but I'm really excited to have a workshop/toyroom for us to share.

In practice it's more like a quarantine for whatever embarrassing sports mechandise, tacky faux-rusted metal signs, and other obnoxious kitsch antiquated-"dude"-shit is in the house.

That has always been my understanding of it. Among my parents' generation, along with an expectation that the wife should clean and maintain the whole house seems to have gone the expectation that she'd be in charge of the decor, especially in the more public areas of the house. This is obviously a lot of unasked-for work, and I seriously doubt any significant number of women considered it a net positive, but I think for a lot of men it created the situation where they weren't allowed to have the masculine-coded kitsch (beer signs, sports ephemera) anywhere in a house full of more feminine-coded decor. It doesn't have to be about "this stuff is the best of the house", just "the rest of the house is about what she wants, this room is about what I want". Obviously there will be exceptions, and the whole thing -- not least the assumption that the traditional feminine-coded decor actually is what the wife wants -- springs from a total shitshow of toxic gender expectations and enforcement.

Another example that I've heard argued is that one of the factors behind these guys' appreciation of Mafia movies is how much they usually feature scenes of a bunch of men hanging out and having a good time in each other's company, and that's really the fantasy.

Hah. I hadn't made the connection with Mafia movies, but I've long been convinced that Ocean's 11 was so popular among men because it showed a group of adult men who were good friends, helped each other out emotionally, and competently worked on a rewarding project together. All veneered with cars, casinos and women in flattering dresses to keep the masculinity unquestionable. That, after all, is The Dream™.
posted by metaBugs at 9:28 AM on March 4, 2019 [12 favorites]


I thought that millennials killed the man cave by not being able to afford a home with more than two rooms.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 9:29 AM on March 4, 2019 [29 favorites]


A hobby room is a pretty legit construct if you can afford the space to have one. I think that's pretty different than a second, smaller TV room with some framed football jerseys on the walls.

We've recently done some serious economizing so that we can afford to rent a small 2nd apartment in our house for my partner to have a place to spread out her art supplies, and our kids have a small area to play with their stuff without it being underfoot constantly.

As middle aged people who have lived in small apartments since leaving home, the sense of space and possibility has made us almost giddy*.

I thought that millennials killed the man cave by not being able to afford a home with more than two rooms.

Ian Svenonious once accused Alan Greenspan of killing the garage band using this argument. Some ideas can only flourish with elbow room.

* Moderated considerably by the jump in rent, but still.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:34 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


The house I grew up in had a smaller house in the back. It was not a guest house-- it was built in about 1950 by the previous owners. The husband loved to play poker with friends and smoke cigars. The wife hated both of these things. So in the backyard, there was the "Little House"-- probably 300 sqft, lined in leather bench seating that had hidden storage, cement and flagstone flooring, a brick fireplace, huge floor-to-ceiling windows, recessed fluorescent lighting, and a moveable bar. When I was much younger, my huge family had sleepovers in it during the summertime. Eventually the flat roof caved in under Northeastern winter snow-- Dad just did not have the time or bank to keep up with it. While it lasted, however, it was glorious. And the earliest, classiest man cave I can think of.
posted by oflinkey at 9:40 AM on March 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


they took up separate bedrooms, ostensibly because it was the only way they could get to sleep.
Snoring grandpa was always the excuse in my family. Asshole grandpa was probably the real reason. (Not that grandma didn't also dish it out with vigor.)
posted by eotvos at 9:41 AM on March 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'm at the point of thinking the ideal arrangement is two houses next to each other. I like my stuff and I'm not really interested in sharing my space 24/7 anymore. Also avoids arguments over cleaning, shelf space, decor, and other sticky issues.

My mother and her therapist cadre all talk about their ideal relationships as having two houses side by side with a tunnel connecting them. In the middle of a tunnel is a door that locks from both sides.

That is the antithesis of one of the strains in this thread which appears to prefer that no one have any private space at all.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:46 AM on March 4, 2019 [11 favorites]


one of the strains in this thread which appears to prefer that no one have any private space at all

[citation needed]
posted by tobascodagama at 9:48 AM on March 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think anyone wants that, there's just a bunch of people dealing with the fact that, unless you have a good amount of money or you live somewhere really cheap, having anywhere in your home that's truly private is a pleasant dream. My wife and I live in a 2BR apartment, and the second bedroom is a combination den/office/library/storage area/bedroom. We both use it as a place to withdraw to when we need anti-social time, so it's not really "owned" by either of us. I'd love to have what my dad and mom had - my dad had a big workspace that was functionally a semi-professional woodworking shop, and my mom had a tricked-out office and a big gardening area - but that's not really an option for us.

I will say the whole two-house idea seems very strange to me, but, rich tapestry, so on and so forth. My wife is my best friend, and we usually want to be around each other, we just sometimes want to be alone/anti-social.
posted by protocoach at 9:57 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Snoring grandpa was always the excuse in my family.

That was mine - I know, because I "inherited" the sleep apnea... For my entire teenage and young adult life, AFAIK they both slept in separate bedrooms due to the snoring. However... at some point he got diagnosed and started treatment and for the last 4-5 years of their lives they shared the same bedroom again. (So - for those who have bad snorers in the family... Get them to a doctor, sleep apnea is real, easily treatable and once treated will result in a dramatic quality-of-life improvement)
posted by jkaczor at 10:00 AM on March 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


I wrote...
one of the strains in this thread which appears to prefer that no one have any private space at all

I was thinking here of a few people focusing on the exclusive nature of man caves.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:04 AM on March 4, 2019


I have a separate wood shop that I decorated and put most of the stuff in. Most of the time I spend in it is alone. However, I don't think that it counts as a man cave because I want my wife to check on my from time to time because injuries are possible and I don't want to lie suffering on the floor forever because I told my wife I don't want her to bother me.
posted by Quonab at 10:05 AM on March 4, 2019


Hah. I hadn't made the connection with Mafia movies, but I've long been convinced that Ocean's 11 was so popular among men because it showed a group of adult men who were good friends, helped each other out emotionally, and competently worked on a rewarding project together. All veneered with cars, casinos and women in flattering dresses to keep the masculinity unquestionable. That, after all, is The Dream™.

See also Lord of the Rings.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:13 AM on March 4, 2019 [12 favorites]


I was thinking here of a few people focusing on the exclusive nature of man caves.

Being by yourself isn't the same as "I, a man, need to be in my man cave, for manly stuff and to get away from the nagging femininity of my wife, who doesn't get a 'woman cave' because the rest of the house is 'hers' by which I mean 'hers to clean'".
posted by Frowner at 10:13 AM on March 4, 2019 [13 favorites]


Always remember that there's always one man cave where you can have all the space you want for junk and that no one will ever bother you!

(Points to head)
posted by FJT at 10:15 AM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


I feel like there is a base assumption that I'm not seeing either explicitly stated or maybe isn't understood. When the article says man caves or separate males spaces in the home (dad's den, the garage) exist in responses to women's liberation they are stopping short of saying WHY and I'm not sure it's being recognized in this conversation. So I'll say why. Home isn't just "feminine coded", home isn't just the stereotype of women nesting, home is for women because the WORLD -- work (career work specifically), public life, sport -- is for men. The Separate Spheres, the ideal of Republican Womanhood, are WHY when women took more a role in the 'male sphere' men couldn't share in the home sphere for loss of masculinity, for the pathological fear of being feminized or 'emasculated'. And considering how women continue to shoulder an unequal burden of household responsibilities, this is still the case. What is mom doing while dad is in his musty garage making sawdust or scrolling through ebay for vintage beer signs? Cleaning the house, cooking meals, taking care of children, writing her mother-in-law's birthday card. But the house is all hers, so unfair!

Also in part the men who have an interest in interior design (or 'nesting') but feel they cannot express it in any other way for fear of being less masculine, find this sort of outlet. Any other kind of designing (the kind that appreciates textiles that aren't leather, art that isn't about sport or sex or consumption) gets bogged down in gender stuff. They want a share in the 'female sphere' without the femininity stink on them.
posted by wellifyouinsist at 10:17 AM on March 4, 2019 [19 favorites]


Drive out to any McMansion farm in the far exurbs of a Northeast city and you'll see row after row of houses with "Great For Entertaining!" kitchens — as though you're going to have any time for entertaining anyone, after your 90-minute-each-way slog in traffic. You're not gonna see that fucking kitchen in daylight most of the year, who gives a shit if it has a subway tile backsplash or space for six counter-height barstools? Or a formal dining room with a table big enough that you need a megaphone to talk from one end to the other—perfect for leaving piles of mail on, because you know damn well everyone's going to eat in the kitchen (because lets face it, nobody is going to wait for your road-ragey ass to roll in so they can eat; they'll all have eaten separately, and you'll be reheating leftovers, pal). But people go crazy for that stuff.

Preach.

I see this exact thing with the wife's aunt/uncle and their McMansion home outside ATL.

1) It's beautiful and has a bazillion square feet of space. Impeccable yard with plants picked from a pre-approved whitelist from HOA. Cabinet of cut crystal and 'nice' places and silver service without a spec of dust (from cleaning, not use). Carpets and rugs clean as a whistle, hardwood floors polished to a ballroom gleam. Even the (2 car of course) garage is clean/sparse/uncluttered to the point of them using a kitty litter pan to protect from any leaks from their two Acuras. A grandfather clock tolls the hours and quarter hours and is manually wound weekly.

2) I have never seen/heard of them speaking to their neighbors. I have never seen children playing in yards. I have never seen a bike ride through the subdivision. They do not use the pool/playground/tennis courts that their HOA fees must be supporting.

3) Their commutes vary between 1 and 1.5 hours, one way, every day for a total of 2 to 3 hours in a vehicle every day apart from the VERY rare work from home/off day.

4) They entertain family once or twice a year and the table and kitchen is full of life and talking for those one or two days. Then I imagine it is a husk of empty echos.

5) They both work very, very hard to maintain the money necessary to support their house. They are unable to take off/vacation/etc even as they have passed retirement age. A recent cancer diagnosis means at least one of them will be working until he dies and won't see retirement at all. The other will have to sell and move, I have no idea how that will go.

The wife and I live in a 1950's craftsman fixeruper that is quite a tight fit for us, 2 young kids, and two aging doggos. That's even with the garage having been converted decades ago into a master suite with bathroom. Our yard is nothing to brag about. But we aren't buried in debt, our jobs are such that we don't work ourselves to death, our commute is 10 minutes, we live in a place that's basically Mayberry with a beach, and we literally blocked off our street yesterday because our oldest's 5 year birthday party overflowed/morphed into a street party with tweens and adults for a 4 or 5 house radius, organically busting out skateboards and cones once her longboard gift was revealed and tested out.

It was, in the most mundane of ways for past generations perhaps, the most amazing shit I could have ever hoped for in regards of my childrens' development and well being. And my wife and mine too!

I used to envision a reasonably sized house with a theater room/man cave, nothing fancy like the McMansion even. I'm glad I don't have one if it would cost me an iota of what I have now.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:18 AM on March 4, 2019 [33 favorites]


See also Lord of the Rings.

Hmm, does Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven count? What about The Great Escape and/or The Dirty Dozen?

Not asking for any particular reason, just curious.
posted by FJT at 10:18 AM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Cleaning the house, cooking meals, taking care of children, writing her mother-in-law's birthday card. But the house is all hers, so unfair!

I think there's a pretty clear subtext that man caves are to escape being dragooned into helping in these activities.
posted by GuyZero at 10:21 AM on March 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


I'll also note that what I was talking about (separate spheres, republican motherhood) are very, VERY, tied to economic class, as I believe is the idea of man caves.
posted by wellifyouinsist at 10:21 AM on March 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Hmm, does Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven count? What about The Great Escape and/or The Dirty Dozen?
Not asking for any particular reason, just curious.


Hard to say, because those movies all came out in earlier years when men's social interactions occurred in the bowling league or the Elks Lodge, and so men weren't isolated in the way they are now.

Both Ocean's Eleven and Lord of the Rings came out at a time when men were (are) starved for meaningful contact with other men that isn't "yay touchdown!" Even more so for Lord of the Rings, which spoke to multiple generations of "geeky" men who had previously only been served on the outskirts of popular culture.

[I recognize, by the way, that all of this refers primarily, if not exclusively, to a subset of white, middle-class men, but that's all I can speak to.]
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:25 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'll be in me shed.
posted by bitslayer at 10:29 AM on March 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yeah, the English shed is a hell of a thing. You are allowed a man cave if you a Colin Furze for example.
posted by GuyZero at 10:31 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


In the suburban neighborhood where I used to live, several homes seem to have converted their garages into this kind of space. Since it's FL, it's warm enough to be outside most of the time, so in the evenings I could see several open garages fitted out with big-screen TVs, grills, and a single recliner parked in the center of the room. It always struck me that people were using this street-facing part of their homes as if inviting passersby to join them, but there was always only one dude in there, usually watching football. It's a weird confluence of affluent signalling (extra unused space in the home, fancy TVs & toys) and atomization (a space supposedly for socializing that nonetheless is only used by one person).
posted by Kitty Stardust at 10:39 AM on March 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


Out: Mancave
In: Brodoir


It pleases me to report that the portmanteau & rhyme generator offers the additional option of "feller cellar."
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:43 AM on March 4, 2019 [41 favorites]


Oh! Different input words result in the more derogatory "shithead woodshed" and (with slight modification) "Bubba bunker."
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:46 AM on March 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Since I got to mull over this on my drive in this morning... the other weird thing is how "man-cave" went from descriptive to proscriptive. Like it was initially a joke label applied to the basement workshops where some men spent a lot of their time, woodworking, doing whatever hobby and possibly avoiding their wife. A lot of basements are pretty cave-like so this isn't the most crazy label to apply.

Then it became an ironic label for whatever space a dude might have taken for himself in the house. Like a second (or third or fourth) bedroom with some personal stuff in it. And when I say "dude" here I mean a white suburban affluent dude mostly who has space that's otherwise going unused.

Then somehow it became a reified thing that had some platonic dimension to it. A man cave had to look this way and have these things and once it was a thing you had people telling you how to make one etc. And men felt the need to have one simply because it was a thing, it was gendered and some guys really like gendered things. And also because it was low-effort - an actual auto shop in your garage is work and required skills that most men no longer posses. A wood shop requires skill and space and time and is really expensive. Painting wargaming miniatures isn't what it used to be (well, ok, it was never cool). But dark colours, a leather couch, a football phone and a TV? Shit, anyone can get into that!

It's weird to look back and see this thing transition from a joke into an aspiration consumer checklist.
posted by GuyZero at 10:57 AM on March 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


Also, if you google "brodoir" you're not going to get man-caves, you're going to get a whole lotta photosets of white dudes half-naked in soft focus.
posted by GuyZero at 10:58 AM on March 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


Huh, I'm looking at /r/malelivingspace and many of the photos look like my living room (I am a woman, I live alone). The rug I have, although I can't quite articulate why, is pretty feminine but in general it is pretty neutral (and thus read as masculine, if we assume that the US commercial feminine decor is average). I wonder why that is? My actual style preferences? Because I've always been too broke/cheap to buy new stuff, so a lot of my stuff is thrifted or homemade? Because I hate stupid signs about living, laughing, and loving?
posted by lucy.jakobs at 11:06 AM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


This thread is a straw man cave.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:11 AM on March 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


I've converting a corner of my garage in to a workshop, which one could call a man cave. But it's really just a place where I can smoke pot and tinker with my bicycles.

I always though man cave should be a euphemism for a man's asshole. On preview: bud hole.
posted by slogger at 11:17 AM on March 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


Hmm, does Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven count? What about The Great Escape and/or The Dirty Dozen?

Different male ideals... those are examples of the valorization of extreme competence over compassion.

As corb notes, the real man cave is the friends we didn't make along the way.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 11:23 AM on March 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


I think for a lot of men, the hanging out with the bugs thing has been replaced with video game party chat. I know guys where that is pretty much how they keep in touch with their friends. It's easy, it's pretty damn cheap, and when the conversation lags there's always the video game to pay attention to.
posted by aspo at 11:28 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


clearly, a critical factor in the lack of opportunities for men to forge landing bonds of friendship with each other is the decline in village-terrorizing bandits roaming the countryside

(and yes, being the last one to survive the friendship-forming event is a not-uncommon feature of Male Friendship Fantasies)
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:32 AM on March 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


I have a brewery! It's a garage that's shares one wall with a goddess temple.

I guess I'm stereo-typical because the aesthetics of decoration don't move me, but my wife really does get impacted and spends her free time collecting old items and moving them around our house trying to crack the perfect layout.

She asks my opinion, tells me I'm terribly wrong and goes back to her secret maths. The only time I've ever gotten grumpy is when she started re-arranging the kitchen which really interfered with my job as the house cook. She's also threatened the books in my office, but that might be a bit daunting.

But having said that - the stereo-typical "man cave" is sad and odd - and I'm a football and baseball fan.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:35 AM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


clearly, a critical factor in the lack of opportunities for men to forge landing bonds of friendship with each other is the decline in village-terrorizing bandits roaming the countryside

you joke, BUT... I would probably have a lot more guy friends in this situation.

and I mean, one of the few times a bunch of dudes get together and hang out for hours? D&D nights...
posted by GuyZero at 11:40 AM on March 4, 2019 [10 favorites]


I have a room that is often referred to as a man cave. It's a bedroom but it has my computer, a decent stereo, my guitar, a couple thousand books, map of Middle Earth, MN Twins memorabilia, posters from micro breweries, a street sign for a certain address on Baker St, and a big lithograph from a Rush tour. Oh, and about a hundred action figures. The Goblin King stands atop one of the speakers. Incense is often burning and music is a constant. It was decorated by my wife. She picked the colors, got the posters framed, etc. Now she says it's too comfortable and comes here often.

She has her own office, where incense never burns and there is a steady drone of MSNBC. The posters are art prints and she has her treadmill, a plethora of tchotkes sit on her computer desk, there's a sliding glass door opening to the deck, and the cats/dogs go there when the sun is shining. Lighting is muted and it is equally comfortable.

This is what we've always wanted but never had living in a succession of apartments. We are just down the hall from each other. I can hear the emphatic voices of cable news now and then, or just my beloved cursing at the posts of her conservative relatives on Facebook. She can hear the throbbing bass of 70s prog rock, hard rock. And in the evening we meet in the living room to argue over what to watch on TV.

I don't have many friends in this town, this cave is not a hang out. But the geeks from the rural phone/Internet/cable coop lost their minds at my room. That made me proud.
posted by Ber at 11:40 AM on March 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


you joke, BUT... I would probably have a lot more guy friends in this situation.
and I mean, one of the few times a bunch of dudes get together and hang out for hours? D&D nights...


Seriously, what is wrong with us? My wife is constantly suggesting that I ask a coworker to dinner or propose some other sort of get-together with other guys I know, and the very idea fills me with dread. I would go if someone else asked, but the thought of proposing it myself is terrifying.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 11:44 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Okay. I will try again. What are the demographics for some of you who are commenting that this is a bad thing or something that is outdated? Perhaps this is an age thing, or a societal shift in thinking regarding what is acceptable? I am not sure I understand why, when so many people that I have known have a man cave, people are saying that they don't really exist anymore.
posted by bradth27 at 11:44 AM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit claustrophilic and prefer dim lighting when I'm not reading, so a cave would be wonderful, as long as my wife can be in there with me.

As it stands, we just have an office with what my wife has named the Wolfe and Goodwin desks, and I'm at my happiest when I'm playing on my computer at the Wolfe desk and she's working or watching at Goodwin.

There's always been a sense that the office is more my space than ours, and she occasionally talks about setting up a crafting area somewhere in the house but hasn't yet.

As far as socializing, that's not something either of us do much. Occasional friends over for boardgames, and plans to get another RPG campaign going are about it.
posted by Four Ds at 11:46 AM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ben Trismegistus, would it help if you phrased it as , "It's been really great, blank, we should get drinks sometime."? The non-committal offer is commonly used as a small-talk prop without intending or requiring follow up. It lets you gauge a reaction, though.
posted by domo at 11:49 AM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


people are saying that they don't really exist anymore.

I don't really see anyone saying that tbh.

It's clearly a demographic thing - people living in apartments are unlikely to have space for an anything cave. People living with roommates in shared housing have a man-cave that's their actual room. There's no man cave without living in a mid-to-large house that's probably out in the suburbs. This is no longer the dominant form of housing being built.

But on the other hand, for those living in big houses in the suburbs, the mancave is a real trend that's up there with home theaters, media nooks, two-story entrance atriums, solariums and other labelled mcmansion component pieces.
posted by GuyZero at 11:49 AM on March 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


Maybe the time is right for my book "Women Have BFFs, Men Have a List of Deaths They Will Be Compelled to Avenge with Such Grief as Will Exempt Them from Any Tears or Laws."

More seriously though, thinking of it from a capitalist perspective, the man cave seems akin to Valentine's Day or car commercials at Christmas, maybe the perfect wedding. Sure, these are things that people in the world may want, but such diamonds were created from enormous marketing pressure, and not any natural process. If you're wise, you can see these mirages and temper your expectations of the reality, should you choose to pursue them. If you're unwise, or have enough money to actually achieve such a thing, it seems you are almost always going to be in for an exhausting chase or a hollow victory. And anyone who has found themselves in such dream spaces, I don't know if you have the same experience as me, but they're so outside the frequency of my experience they hardly feel like anything at all. Just a waste of resources. But it seems mostly a capitalist tradeoff... you can earn the money to have such things, or the time to enjoy them, but only somewhere beyond the horizon can you have both.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 11:54 AM on March 4, 2019 [16 favorites]


Seriously, what is wrong with us? My wife is constantly suggesting that I ask a coworker to dinner or propose some other sort of get-together with other guys I know, and the very idea fills me with dread. I would go if someone else asked, but the thought of proposing it myself is terrifying.

So part of this does sound like it might be social anxiety, which is tough! But also, you can totally ease into it by suggesting that a group does [X shared activity] that you all enjoy, but would also serve as a distraction if you're worried about making conversation. Board games, video games, movie in a shared living space with a group, getting together to watch that TV show on a premium network once a week. Inviting a group of people who loosely know each other can make the experience a lot less intimidating for everyone.

Also, I had to teach my husband how to make friends and invite people over, so don't feel bad. Making friends once people leave school is difficult for everyone, but it seems like it's especially tough for men (organizing social events still seems like it's coded as women's work).
posted by dinty_moore at 11:56 AM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Okay. I will try again. What are the demographics for some of you who are commenting that this is a bad thing or something that is outdated? Perhaps this is an age thing, or a societal shift in thinking regarding what is acceptable? I am not sure I understand why, when so many people that I have known have a man cave, people are saying that they don't really exist anymore.

I don't think anyone's saying that it's a bad thing to have a man cave, necessarily. Just that, depending on what kind of man cave we're talking about, it can be...kind of tacky? And it seems like it suggests something about the gender dynamics in that household?

There's probably an age component – but, as noted upthread, there are also other demographic trends involved. It sounds like you travel in circles where man caves are common. I do not – I've only been in one man cave. (Rec rooms and dens don't count.) 99.9% of my exposure to the phenomenon has been through the media.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:01 PM on March 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


the last time I set foot inside a Man Cave that was clearly designed as such, it was in a housesitting context and the owner was not there to "show it off" to me.

it made me feel like I was inside the preserved bedroom of an eleven year old boy who had died in the mid-80s.

anyway if you have the space to decorate your own room put some actual thought into the aesthetic, I guess that's my point
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:02 PM on March 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


domo & dinty_moore, thanks. Admittedly, it seems like a bizarre problem to have. I'm an extrovert and enjoy spending time with people. My wife and I have lots of "couple friends" and I enjoy when we all hang out together.

But we have this weird internal socialization thing about how men are supposed to interact with each other, even though it's completely irrational. I can't even picture how two guys hanging out together is supposed to go.

Thanks for the therapy session. :)
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 12:02 PM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


So part of this does sound like it might be social anxiety, which is tough! But also, you can totally ease into it by suggesting that a group does [X shared activity] that you all enjoy, but would also serve as a distraction if you're worried about making conversation. Board games, video games, movie in a shared living space with a group, getting together to watch that TV show on a premium network once a week. Inviting a group of people who loosely know each other can make the experience a lot less intimidating for everyone.
I've found some success with activities outside of the house as potential-friend-dates, followed by stuff like this if the outside of the house stuff works out. I think going to an external location makes it less stressful. When possible, we've tried for non-drinking places, but unfortunately a lot of these places are booze-y/booze-adjacent (like a darts bar some coworkers and I went to a few months back). After that it was easier to throw together the occasional game night.
posted by protocoach at 12:03 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm at the point of thinking the ideal arrangement is two houses next to each other. I like my stuff and I'm not really interested in sharing my space 24/7 anymore. Also avoids arguments over cleaning, shelf space, decor, and other sticky issues.

For real though, at this point in my life this is where I'm at. Myself and my theoretical partner can just sleep over at each other's place however many nights a week we want. Integrating houses would be a financial thing only. No reason to create a bunch of upheaval in either of our lives.
posted by MillMan at 12:08 PM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


Maybe "man cave" is just a misnomer? I mean, if the desire is for male friendship, maybe these spaces should be marketed as man traps?
posted by FJT at 12:17 PM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


The Man Cave has always been a contradictory idea to me. It's pitched as a way for men to assert their traditional manliness, but necessarily involves retreat from the common areas of the house, ceding all territory to the lowly women. So it seems pathetic on multiple levels, but most confusingly, it's pathetic in a way that would seem most threatening to the type of person it's ostensibly aimed at.

There's something very American in that trope: man as a simple savage, and woman as civilising force, having tamed him for his own good. In it you see the Wild West, the Prohibition movement, evangelical Christianity as the thin line between civilisation and the Hobbesian state of nature on the frontier, Lauren Bacall tipping Humphrey Bogart's booze into the water, not to mention countless cowboys, rock stars, outlaw bikers, rogue cops and rebels with or without a cause.
posted by acb at 12:20 PM on March 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


it made me feel like I was inside the preserved bedroom of an eleven year old boy who had died in the mid-80s.

YES, EXACTLY. That describes the one man-cave I've been in perfectly. Or, perhaps more precisely: it felt like the room an eleven-year-old boy would have made for himself, if he had grown-up money to throw around.

It's...it's not a good look, guys.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:26 PM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


I always bristle at the idea of a stereotypical "man cave" because it's just really insulting to women in general. Not because everyone should have a space in which they can feel comfortable and soothed--they should. But because of the insistence that it needs to be a "woman-free space" where someone can rightfully escape labor and responsibility that would be his if he didn't literally lock the door against it. It's like the room equivalent of "Do a terrible job emptying the dishwasher so she never makes you do it again", except worse.

As far as making friends and entertaining at home, I'm an introvert and all my friends are introverted, so I've been hosting open houses. I invite however many people and then buy a few snacks and and beverages, clean the house, and otherwise pretty much do whatever I'd planned to do that day. People are free to drop by within a specified range (like noon to 8pm) and stay however long they want. It works out pretty well--I typically get 2-3 takers, and they're usually more comfortable with dropping by the next time. The good thing is that it forces me to clean the house and keep all my stuff put away, so I get at least that much out of it even if nobody comes over.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:35 PM on March 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


It's...it's not a good look, guys.

For for kicks I did a google image search for man cave and two things:

1 - a ton of images are of seriously large rooms, like 20x20 living room type rooms. These are weirdo showcases, not anything a normal person owns.

2 - you think 11 year-old boy is a bad look for a man cave? How about Nazi memorabilia fan? That's a bad look.
posted by GuyZero at 12:37 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


And... that does go both ways... The sheer amount of signs marketed at both women and men are that are "just so / twee" is frankly disgusting. (After browsing a "lobby of a hobby" store last fall, all I wanted to do was start my own signage company to sell subversive opposites to these generic "feel good" platitudes...)

Live. Laugh. L̸̞͇̮͓̟͓̜O͇͜ͅA̧̭̙̟̻͕T͈͔̟̤̕Ḫ͚E̞͝.̫̯͓͕͡ ͖̫͔̯͞
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:39 PM on March 4, 2019 [11 favorites]


Ben Trismegistus--I've found social media to be a helpful tool when making new 1-1 friendships. Obviously this might not work for everyone, but I've posted things like "Anyone want to check out X new place?" or "I'm signed up to take X afternoon course--anyone want to join me?" or even "I've been working on X craft project and would love some company. Anyone want to come over for a few hours--I'll make dinner!" Then I tag people that I know that I want to be better friends with who I know are interested in new foods, or that particular course, or crafting, or whatever. It's a lot easier/passive than asking directly and it was a great gateway into me feeling more comfortable suggesting things to people in real life.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 12:40 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


How about Nazi memorabilia fan? That's a bad look.

which is exactly why I'm not going to add it to my Google history
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:41 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


So I thought the Nazi shrine man cave would top it all, but then I really got Google humming and this rabbit hole goes deep.

Garages of Texas
: they're condos but every unit is a garage, specifically for building out free-standing man caves. They just dispense with the house altogether. Just a place for you and your car to hang out, in a metal box, in Texas.
posted by GuyZero at 12:45 PM on March 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Everything old is new again... this was my first thought upon reading the FPP, and I'm surprised no one else has made the connection. (Or if they did, I didn't see it above!)

I don't have a "man cave" but I do have an "office" that is largely computers, piles of Cub Scout stuff, and papers. It is used primarily for Minecraft and less so for Actual Work, now that I am no longer working a job that comes home with me daily.

I also have a "play room" that used to be toys and Lego, but with the addition of the TV and 5 generations of Nintendo has become "the room the tadpole and I retire to when it is time to play Smash Bros or Zelda".

Both places are areas of the house my wife does not spend a lot of time in, not because we have made her unwelcome, but because she is not a gamer. Although the play room DOES have a nice seating area at one end, a little reading nook, which she quite likes in the spring and fall.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:48 PM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


A few years back we lived in a 19th Century side-by-side. Our basement had dirt floors and a low ceiling where it wasn't just crawlspace. One day, the widow next door invited us in for a tour. Right on the other side of the dividing wall, her basement had a cement floor (with drainage!), seven foot ceilings, and ran the length of the house from front to back. And in this basement, her late husband had built a full-on workshop with a table saw, drill press, and maybe even a lathe. Word from the neighbors was that he dug it out by hand, mainly as a way of avoiding his wife.
posted by whuppy at 12:53 PM on March 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


a shrine to the fantasy of male friendship

Reminds me of Notch's party room with candy wall. He had nobody to party with, so the candy eventually went bad and had to be tossed.
posted by whuppy at 1:00 PM on March 4, 2019 [13 favorites]


these rooms are wasting a lot of space that could be taken up by pinball machines
posted by Theta States at 1:23 PM on March 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


They just dispense with the house altogether. Just a place for you and your car to hang out,

During the Big House Reorganization of 2017(tm), we rented a storage unit for a about 6 months.
On my trips to and fro, I noticed a surprising number of the larger units, the 20x10 or 30x15 sizes, were being used as wood shops or for car restoration.
A couple had picnic tables out front, so were clearly being used as gathering spots.

It honest struck me as pretty smart, you get a place to go on a Saturday afternoon to tinker with some stuff, and the stuff doesn't end up taking up a bunch of space in your house.

The storage place had a special rate for band practice space, so it wouldn't surprise me if at least one had been converted into a stereotypical mancave.
posted by madajb at 1:28 PM on March 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


and woman as civilizing force, having tamed him for his own good. In it you see the Wild West

... Actually... (sorry, "new-to-me" show)
posted by jkaczor at 1:32 PM on March 4, 2019


There was no party for the express purpose of getting rid of the candy? Raise the marginal tax rates, rich people don't even know how to rich anymore.
posted by Selena777 at 1:36 PM on March 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


Half of my basement is definitely a cave of some sort, what with the music gear and the light table and the freaking tools and the game console and the futon. And the books. So many books.

But we live in a smallish one-bedroom bungalow, and partner works from home most days, and there really does need to be someplace we can get away from each other or stash houseguests. I feel slightly vindicated by the lack of any sports paraphernalia whatsoever.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:37 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


if one truly desires a proper Man Cave, one must delve into the very earth below the foundations of one's house

it is not enough merely to hollow out a subterrane lair -- one must delve deeper, into cold black earth that has never been o'erturned by human hands

deeper still, now

yes, and deeper

deeper yet

into the very Bowels of our Chthonic Mother

deeper and deeper, past the occulted boundary below which Man was never meant to delve

and at the point where one has delved as deep as one can go, press on even deeper, into the marrow of the bones of the Earth

now

put up a NY Jets pennant
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:43 PM on March 4, 2019 [31 favorites]


these rooms are wasting a lot of space that could be taken up by pinball machines

I have in-laws who live in suburban Iowa, and in their subdivision the garages are filled with pinball machines, old school soda vending machines, TVs, extra fridges, and seating. Without fail, they are decorated with either Iowa State or University of Iowa flags. The cars (with cyclone- or hawkeye-related personalized license plates) park in the driveway, often near a charcoal grill. Men actually socialize there. As a Minnesotan, I find it amazing that this cultural phenomenon exists just across the border. Is it climate-related, like it’s actually possible to watch fall football games in a garage in the less frigid south? Or does an environment with dueling college tribes make male friendship possible in adulthood?
posted by Maarika at 1:43 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air, with one enormous chair...

Am I the only one who can't read this thread without getting a song stuck in their head? Anyway. Like many in this thread, the idea of rooms for entertaining that are segregated by gender is, um, not where I'm at politically.
posted by surlyben at 1:50 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


> They entertain family once or twice a year and the table and kitchen is full of life and talking for those one or two days. Then I imagine it is a husk of empty echos.

A million times, this. Every McMansion I've been in (admittedly, not a huge number) has been what I would consider far too large for the number of people living there, and seemed somewhat desolate no matter how many people were there. A friend of mine grew up in one, and when I would visit him the various members of his family would be home or not home, but you couldn't tell either way because they'd be off in their own wing of the place, completely isolated from everyone else until dinnertime, which was the only time they seemed to come together and interact. To each their own and all that, but excessively large houses fill me with a pervading sense of melancholy because all that space keeps people apart rather than bringing them together.

* I was there for an entire weekend once and only saw my friend's brother once, and yet he was home the entire time
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:51 PM on March 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


Men actually socialize there. As a Minnesotan, I find it amazing that this cultural phenomenon exists just across the border.

This is a thing in both southwestern (London-area) and northern (Sudbury) Ontario - so, climate-wise, pretty much the same.

However - in most of the garages, there are furnaces/wood-burning standing stoves (or at the very least some space heaters). Many might have an old stereo - probably leftover from some bachelor days in the 80's/90's and now relegated to the garage, but I have yet to see one with a TV in Canada.

During family events (birthdays, holidays, parties), many of the guys will rotate through the garage, that's where the beer cooler is, that is where smoking is allowed (and hey, in Canada... "all-the-things-can-now-be-smoked" legally). Furniture is typically really old kitchen chairs, lawn chairs, etc. Nothing fancy - keep your jackets and boots ON please. (But... also, many of the women who smoke will also rotate through the garage - and grab a beer or two on their way through... Certainly it is not "male-exclusive" ... heh, try to do that in a family were the women out-number the men 4-to-1)
posted by jkaczor at 1:55 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


deeper and deeper, past the occulted boundary below which Man was never meant to delve

Is it really a man cave if you can't invite the Drow over to watch the big game?
posted by octobersurprise at 1:57 PM on March 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


Heh... If we are going to bring up Drow, then... What about Moria?
posted by jkaczor at 2:01 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah my cave is definitely non-binary.
posted by aspersioncast at 2:17 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


the various members of his family would be home or not home, but you couldn't tell either way because they'd be off in their own wing of the place

Not to brag, but this was my house growing up. OTOH, it was really nice to hole up in my room and read or play music mostly unbothered; OTO, my parents were yellers & they never stopped trying to shout conversations at each other which neither of them ever could hear. “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW!?”
posted by octobersurprise at 2:43 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


space to contain the mess of fiddly hobbies away from Socially Acceptable Entertaining Spaces" is not a gendered concept (nor should it be)

Everyone ought to read the essay "A Room of One's Own" by Virginia Woolfe.
posted by straight at 3:02 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


A cave? You pathetic infant! You mewling, helpless child, babbling the word "cave" through your toothless mouth with your lips still wet with your mother’s milk! Has this world fallen so far that you imagine that something such as you, swaddled tightly in your "walls" and "roof", might call itself a man without knowing the universal scorn of true men?

When you have crawled from your cave and learned to stand as men stand beneath the open sky, when the sun has burnt your skin to leather and the icy wind has torn you until you have learned to love its wicked lash, when only the pitiless night is above you and you sit like Crom strong on his mountain, perhaps then you might call yourself a man!

A cave! Feh!
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:03 PM on March 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


Every McMansion I've been in (admittedly, not a huge number) has been what I would consider far too large for the number of people living there, and seemed somewhat desolate no matter how many people were there.

When my brother was dying, I went to see him in his ridiculously large house with its unused rooms, and I sat and watched the Home and Garden Network while we chatted and waited for the disease to take him. It was… uniquely horrible.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:15 PM on March 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


Of course one needs a man cave. Where else would we use our nipples to find ghosts?
posted by omegar at 3:20 PM on March 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


What's with the disparagement of the style and aesthetic some guys choose for their relaxation room? I also know full grown women who still pile stuffed animals on their side of the bed, or still have youthfully frilly bed coverings. Whether or not the arguments above that 'man caves are an ugly artifact/reflection of the patriarchy' are persuasive, it ain't anyone's place to condescend to someone else's style choices...
posted by PhineasGage at 3:24 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


many Man Caves seem to be set up to be performatively masculine, as was the case with the unhosted cave I mentioned above. as such, I paid it the respect it was due by judging it, in my capacity as a man, and finding it wanting.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:26 PM on March 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


Eh. I don't really buy the thesis that "style" (i.e., aesthetic sense) is entirely divorced from substance, and therefore exempt from criticism.

Practically by definition, the way a dude decorates his man cave tells us something about how he inhabits his masculinity (and why he feels the need to have a separate, gendered space in the first place).

So if a dude's man cave tells me that his sense of masculinity is informed by the grosser expressions of that gender...I tend to take him at his word.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:53 PM on March 4, 2019 [10 favorites]


Oh, hey
posted by salt grass at 4:18 PM on March 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


I'm at the point of thinking the ideal arrangement is two houses next to each other. I like my stuff and I'm not really interested in sharing my space 24/7 anymore. Also avoids arguments over cleaning, shelf space, decor, and other sticky issues.

There was that MeFi thread a little while ago about cishet women who were quietly foregoing relationships with men, and I was like "this resonates so much, and yet, I am in a relationship with a dude and not desiring to leave it -- what is the disconnect?"

And then my cousin asked me about moving in with her boyfriend and I was like DON'T DO IT OH MY GOD and oh, ok, now I see what was resonating with me. It's cohabitation that tips the balance.

My partner and I fortunately have very compatible home aesthetics else things would really be challenging.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:22 PM on March 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


Every McMansion I've been in (admittedly, not a huge number) has been what I would consider far too large for the number of people living there, and seemed somewhat desolate no matter how many people were there.

This is why I am viscerally uncomfortable in so many modern McHomes. The scale isn't meant for domestic living. The grand foyers and great rooms are scaled to public spaces where lots of people are performing transitional tasks and won't be lingering. In private homes where people are supposed to feel comfortable at rest, those vast echoey foyers are as disorienting as an office park on a Saturday afternoon.

I'm another MeFite living in a smallish house (950 square feet if you include the finished office in the basement; built in 1904; perpetually in need of work) and I love it so. We somehow manage to always find room when we're hosting something, and we somehow end up hosting a lot. I think my family being so happy and comfortable in our house has helped other people feel comfortable there too?

And maybe that's what some people are reaching for with their Man Cave: A place to feel comfortable. Build it and the social occasions will come.
posted by sobell at 4:32 PM on March 4, 2019


Well, build it and then invite people over. You don’t get very many social occasions if you skip that step.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:38 PM on March 4, 2019


The more I think about it the more I'm thinking this is just a different part of the house, in which more of the hobby paraphernalia are stored, and where I spend slightly more time than my significant other.

It is mostly below ground and sometimes damp, and therefore inherently more cave-like than the rest of the house.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:49 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


My best friend's parents bought two summer cottages next to each other and each decorated one. I gather my friend's father had taxidermy, the mother had gingham.

Our janitor at work had a work man cave! There was a storage room for cleaning supplies, and he partitioned one side with a beaded curtain, and had a couch and a lava lamp. Strangely, he was a Rush-Limbaugh-loving paleoconservative, so he must have gotten his decorating sense from a different source than his politics.
posted by acrasis at 4:55 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


jkaczor

Minor point: there are treatments for sleep apnea that work wonderfully for a lot of people. I think of it as one of the triumphs of modern medicine-- safe, reasonably cheap, effective.

However, I also know people who've tried a few people who've tried a bunch of medical methods, and nothing has worked.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 5:51 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


lefty lucky cat: Sure, these are things that people in the world may want, but such diamonds were created from enormous marketing pressure, and not any natural process.

This was so elegantly put that I had to pull it out.

prize bull octorok: it made me feel like I was inside the preserved bedroom of an eleven year old boy who had died in the mid-80s.

When I went through Graceland for the first time (I went a total of three times, because I lived in Memphis and visitors always wanted to go, and I swear to you, even though I've never been particularly into Elvis, it never got old), I was immediately struck that much of the house, preserved exactly the way it was when Elvis died, was pretty much what my dream house would have been in the mid-seventies, when I was twelve.

Also, WRT the comments about McMansions having enough room for man caves because they literally have more room than their occupants know what to do with: I won't try to find the article now (if it's even still up), but I remember reading this about 2006 or so, and it was my first harbinger that the housing bubble was probably going to pop soon: it started out talking about the elegant dining room that this couple (maybe with a family, can't remember) had, with nice furniture, great china and crystal, etc., and then noted that the couple had not used it once in the two years that they'd lived there. I think most MeFites already know about McMansion Hell, but the site itself is worth digging back through for examples of man caves or manacle-adjacent spaces.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:24 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]




Then somehow it became a reified thing that had some platonic dimension to it. A man cave had to look this way and have these things and once it was a thing you had people telling you how to make one etc. And men felt the need to have one simply because it was a thing, it was gendered and some guys really like gendered things.

The "somehow" being, IMO, a function of capitalism finding another niche market to wring dry.

I am not sure I understand why, when so many people that I have known have a man cave, people are saying that they don't really exist anymore.

Related to my above point, I read the linked article as largely noting how "man-cave" is not the Marketing/"BUY THIS" juggernaut it was a few years ago, not so much that they don't exist anymore.

Just a place for you and your car to hang out, in a metal box, in Texas.

This just seems like a bad idea on a lot of levels. . . .
posted by soundguy99 at 6:46 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ctrl-F "Batcave"
phrase not found

Hmmm...
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:58 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


On a scale of importance, with climate crisis and russian puppet in whitehouse at 10 and 9, i don't know if mancaves even reach a 1 to me.

Unfounded generalization time:
If you're poor the living room of the apartment, trailer or shared house is where your talking bass gets to mingle with your plastic flowers and the pile on the kitchen table is everyones projects. Everyone deals with everyone elses stuff in the house.

If you're rich, with many mansions, every hobby can have a room, even hobbies you don't do. Each rich person has independent style, artifacts and space.

So the mancave is an symptom of suburban, employed aspirational middle class nuclear families*

If your house burned down and you had to live in motel, rv or tent or van, you'd discover that all the functional things you actually NEED, can be got from a big box store,in about 4hrs, under $500, and can fit in the backseat and trunk of a car. Everything else aesthetic passive entertainment where you or your imagined or real social circle are the audience. The contents of the mancave are just as superficial, wasteful, shallow and pathetic as the rest of the house.

Im reminded of a (trans?)woman who walked around st marks with cubist inspired clown makeup and the tee-shirt that read "my mask is just as silly as yours"

I think the state should have no role in marriage, but maybe making couples explicitly discuss and write down their rules, expectations and non-negotiables would be a healthy thing.

I've had many roomates, male and female, straight and lesbian. No two people have the same values and "common sense" about anything:
1) a reasonable speed to drive on the highway
2) crocs as footware for a party
3) soaking dishes
4) does the butter go in the fridgee or on the counter? what about bread, bananas or tomatoes?
5) does a carpet need to vacuumed more than once a season, do windows ever need to be washed?
6) is a beer bottle a collectible? is a tiny spoon?
7) do stuffed animals have any place in the home of an adult
8) peeing in the shower, optional or manditory?

Couples should spell out and negotiate their superfluous cultural baggage masquerading as "you cant, you must" instead of "i want this place to look like that magazine or i want,to live like that commercial" before spending the rest of their lives seething and resenting.

Who can police the clothing, food, friends, hobbies, artifacts of whom and how should be spelled out. (what boggles my mind is that the universal agreed upon answer to this question isn't "no one should police this stuff about anyone else"

the obvious solution to the mancave is divorce

If your married to a spouse who doesn't share your particular aestetic and values of home decor, cleaning, eating, childrearing, fashionsense, etc, then you will either spend the rest of your marriage in unpaid emotional labor of micromanaging against their will their clothing, meals, home decor, and child rearing, or the unpaid emotional labor of watching them enjoy doing all those things THE WRONG WAY.

If your married, to a spouse and doing half the housework, half the child rearing and paying half the rent/bills, you and your friends and hobbies (real or potential) should get to use half the house, not be exiled to some cold damp corner.

*confining mating and cohabitation to mutually exclusive monogamous hetereosexual life-long marriages and nuclear families is biologically unnatural, historically abnormal, environmentally destructive, economically wasteful, socially isolating, and emotionally stressful. Its not a dream, its the american disease.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 7:01 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


IFyou'er married, to a spouse and doing half the housework, half the child rearing and paying half the rent/bills, you and your friends and hobbies (real or potential) should get to use half the house,

That "if" is doing a lot of heavy lifting in this sentence.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 7:08 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


On a scale of importance, with climate crisis and russian puppet in whitehouse at 10 and 9, i don't know if mancaves even reach a 1 to me.

So, is that higher or lower than shitposting on a website?
posted by tobascodagama at 7:19 PM on March 4, 2019 [13 favorites]


If you're rich, with many mansions, every hobby can have a room, even hobbies you don't do. Each rich person has independent style, artifacts and space.

Aaron Spelling's house famously had a room just to wrap presents in.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:43 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


it ain't anyone's place to condescend to someone else's style choices...

Other people's choices are exactly what deserve criticism.

It's the things that people don't choose (their gender, their family situation, their nationality, etc) that are pointless and mean to criticize.

But a love of framed football jerseys as an interior decorating theme? Oh it's Siskel and Ebert time.
posted by GuyZero at 8:57 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


For the record, I’m here to say it: pinball machines belong in the LIVING ROOM, people.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 9:23 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


So something I learned today, man-caves are a volatile topic on Metafilter. Who knew.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:31 PM on March 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


i'm sorry, and thank you for calling me out ,and sorry for making it necessary to call me out.
The commenters in this thread have better judgement than I and I am sorry for minimizing and disrespecting that.
i thought me jumping to defend mancaves needed a pre-emptive disclaimer, because really, there is a lot of work to do on equity and fairness before soothing mens desire for a man space is considered. The pay gap, the, law ebforcements treatment of domestic,violence etc. I didnt mean to dismiss the comments or commenters,in this thread, though that is what i did.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 9:44 PM on March 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Let me try to do better:
the vox article and many commenters paint mancave owners and aspirants as friendless losers who cant even cave right and who are insecure in their masculinity and unable to cope with the progress women have made. Indeed the author posits her fathers cave as a direct rival to his love for her and her sisters.

Id like to push back on this narrative and propose a different one: instead of "my wife has a job, I'd better double down on manly things in a man-recharging cave, lest i be unsexed." maybe, just maybe, "my wife will never let me hang this knicks jersey anywhere, maybe i can be allowed to put it the garage" or " im acused of not being an adult because i play videogames, maybe i can hide in the basement and still be allowed to play them, sometimes, when my chores are done, and my wife isnt requiring me,to attend a social or family gathering i don't want to go to."

So maybe its not always about lonelyness and fear of being feminized but sometimes
about control and autonomy and being allowed to have the hobbies and possesions even if they arent shared by the rest of the family. These men might still be losers unable to bond or who fail their share of the housework or who are emotionally unsupportive and I'd guess they are misogynists and not excempt from toxic masculinity etc.

Also, anything you'd have to pay stranger to do for you, you should pay your families to do for you or do it for yourself. My defense of mancaves should is not meant to be an excuse for absentee fathers and spoiled husbands who think working a job fullfills all their obligations in the household.

Thank you for your patience with me.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 12:23 AM on March 5, 2019


I have a coworker right now that has a man cave in his garage, what he calls his "apartment" to get away from everyone else in the house (lotta kids). So it's still happening and he does use it in the stereotypical "getting away from everyone" manner.

I think he unfortunately also has a lot of the "being married ties me DOWN" issues. He's a nice guy and a good dad, but I think he caved in and got married and has some issues with doing that. So that 1950s thing is still happening for someone here.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:38 AM on March 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


So maybe its not always about loneliness and fear of being feminized but sometimes
about control and autonomy and being allowed to have the hobbies and possesions even if they arent shared by the rest of the family.


You know, I think there is something in there, but I would expand that expectation to women as well. When you are a parent in many developed societies, there is a pressure to relinquish any sense of identity (hobbies, preferences, etc.). Among women, this is manifested in a guilt-fueled surrender to child-rearing and housekeeping. I have seen couples where this creates resentment towards the husband, specially if chores are unfairly distributed.

My SO and I still game and nurse hobbies, but as far as I know only I have been judged for doing so (every minute I spend on hobbies should have been spent making the house homier, or caring for baby, or reading parenting books). I would resent my husband if he felt he needed a man-cave because I think that in the grand scheme of things people respect his autonomy and desire for self-development, while they don't do the same for me.

In turn, I would like to push back on this:

"These men might still be losers unable to bond "

Inability to form emotionally fulfilling friendships is not "being a loser". The patriarchy trains boys to repress emotions and sacrifice their mental health to the ideal of the self-sufficient macho. Being unable to bond with people (of any gender) is not a personal failing, as much as a direct result of toxic masculinity.
posted by Tarumba at 9:51 AM on March 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


Anyway, the ultimate man cave will always be Ned Flanders's rumpus room.
posted by ckape at 9:55 AM on March 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Tell Me No Lies: "The library/study/garage that is the place where a man is by default alone seems healthy though, and given its venerable history in the West(*) I doubt it’s going anywhere. Not every man wants a retreat, but many do."

This is what I've always conceptualized a man-cave as being and the sport jersey/alcohol promoting/naked female image having example being just one, disturbing, manifestation of the genre. Learning that is was driven my marketing is no surprise at all.

corb: "Eh, I think man-caves have been around for a while but they just called them “the garage.”"

I spent practically half my childhood shadowing my father in assorted garages/driving sheds/workshops/work-spaces where the men would gather to drink/smoke and the only women present was the occasional visit bearing sandwiches. While problematic for other reasons that has always been my perception of Man-Cave. And it is also pretty much why I don't think of my workspace as a man-cave; my spouse, daughter, sisters, mom are all welcome at any time.

emjaybee: "I'm at the point of thinking the ideal arrangement is two houses next to each other."

I know more than a few older couples who operate this way.

whuppy: "Word from the neighbors was that he dug it out by hand, mainly as a way of avoiding his wife."

There are lots of these crawl spaces converted to basements in my neighbourhood (the soil composition here makes it pretty easy). Though none were, to my knowledge, spouse avoiding exercises. Rather they were done by teenagers to "keep them busy" during summer months. with the bonus that they often became the teenager's room after excavation.
posted by Mitheral at 10:52 AM on March 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'm at the point of thinking the ideal arrangement is two houses next to each other. I like my stuff and I'm not really interested in sharing my space 24/7 anymore. Also avoids arguments over cleaning, shelf space, decor, and other sticky issues.

I prefer lots of little rooms, each connected with small round passageways, like a Hamster Town.

Only problem is the bedding. Those pencil shaving things get everywhere, and they stubbornly cling to one's private areas after a trip to the bathroom.
posted by duffell at 12:51 PM on March 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


I was renting a house last year and the previous owner had put in a workroom in the basement. It was really nice to have a fixed place where I could just leave my tools and projects out while working on them. The highlight was a friend wanted to make a storage box for their outdoor stuff (garden hoses, toys, etc) so we spent the better part of a day hanging out and doing that. I'd love to be able to do that regularly but we all have small kids so hanging out during the daytime is a pretty rare occurrence for us. I'd like to have a workroom in my new house. It's possible because our basement is just a storage place for our moving boxes that haven't been unpacked. Assuming we actually go through them all and empty the basement there'd be space for a nice work/craft room. So possible but not very likely.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:10 PM on March 5, 2019


>> These men might still be losers unable to bond
>
> Inability to form emotionally fulfilling friendships is not "being a loser".
>

Yeah, I gotta agree that's a pretty harsh way to talk about anyone male or female who has difficulty connecting with people.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:06 PM on March 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


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