The idea of a Man Cave is problematic. But all that goes away if we can also create Woman Caves (or something more clever-sounding).
I assumed everyone already understood why “Man Caves” are lame and sexist. But it turns out I’m wrong.
I just discovered a Pinterest board (created by Pinterest themselves) called Man Cave Essentials. Here’s the description: “Every man needs a place to unwind and hang out with friends. From chilled pint glasses to fancy remote controls, we’ve got all the tricks to help customize your own man cave.”
I get it, Pinterest. You’re trying to prove that there’s a space for men on your site, which I agree with and which we can talk about later. But I want a board called “Woman Cave” (or, you know, something more clever-sounding).
Why the Man Cave is sexist
Here’s the big reason that the Man Cave is problematic, from Unapologetically Female:
“The concept of a man cave in a home is a sexist concept in itself…its perceived necessity derives from the traditional notion that the home (and all the work within it) is entirely the woman’s domain.”
Agreed. But then someone commented on that post and said this:
“I think women are missing the point that in most relationships the woman takes over and delegates design and decoration choices for the entire house. Supposed Frat-boy items and decorations end up in storage while frilly girly crap fills their former spaces. Also, given the choice a woman would be satisfied with 19 inch Tube TV.”
First of all, heck no I would not be satisfied with some crappy TV. I want to watch my Scandal in high def, son. Or whatever. Pixels? Look, I may not know that much about TV specs, but that doesn’t mean I’d be happy with an old TV. It just means I would need to do research before I buy my next one.
But I actually agree with you, Anonymous commenter, that sometimes women take over the decoration of their house and choose a bunch of “frilly, girly crap” their partner doesn’t like. I personally admit that our home has a few things that are too girly for Joe (my wrought iron phase was very real and it was very intense, let’s leave it at that). But we try. In my opinion, if you don’t feel like your home is yours, that’s a problem. That being said, it’s both people’s responsibility to make sure a place feels right for them as a couple, so if you’re leaving all the decoration work to your partner, it’s not their fault when their style works its way in.
Saying a man needs his own space because the rest of the house “belongs to the woman” is horrible. You mean I get stuck with boring practical things like curtains and silverware, and Joe gets a giant TV and a keg? I don’t thinks so. As you already know, I refuse to let the practical decision be my desire while the fun things are his.
Women need to recharge, too.
If one person has their own space but the other doesn’t, that’s bad for both people. It means she has to share everything, without a space to call her own. And despite conventional wisdom, women need to be alone and recharge, too. Sure, lots of us work through our problems by talking to other people and that can make us seem more needy. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve quiet time. Even Shosh needs quiet time. And a woman who never has any time or space to recharge is not a fun woman to be around—trust me, I’ve been that woman. Wide-eyed and on edge, oh yes. I’m a ball of gas at that point. But having a space for retreat could be a great way to feel refreshed and come back ready to be a better, more supportive partner.
So what’s the solution?
Let me be clear: there’s nothing wrong with a man wanting his own personal space. I just ask for equal opportunity alone time. I need to unwind, too. I have friends, too. That’s why I demand a Man Cave and Woman Cave.
In case you’re still confused and can’t imagine what a woman’s solitary space might look like (“Isn’t that called a kitchen? Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.”) (Ugh), here is what I’d put in my Woman Cave:
1. Wall-to-wall books, Beauty and the Beast style.
2. A giant TV, with surround sound please and thank you. I want to hear Betty Draper sigh from every corner of the room.
3. Soundproof wall panels, so I can listen to whatever song I want on full blast—including the times I listen to one song on repeat all day. It happens.
4. One of those window nooks like all the imaginary princesses have for reading and drinking tea and looking longingly out the window when it rains.
5. Since I don’t care about sports, I’ll have shrines to the things I do root for: a framed jersey for Team Meryl, a video loop of Jennifer Lawrence meeting Jack Nicholson, and a pennant that just says, “Christina Yang.”
6. A whiskey bar. As Ron Swanson says, “Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets” and he is not wrong and I am not on a diet. Speaking of which:
7. Cheese. Lots of cheese. Just…constantly there is cheese somehow.
The downside to a Woman Cave
The problem with my demand for equal alone space is obvious: who has the money for two extra rooms in their home? Not many. Not me, currently. So what do you do if you don’t have two extra rooms? Do you give up? (“NO!!!” yells the enraged mob I’ve assembled in the town square) Do you use only one extra room as a place you could take turns in? (“MAYBE!!” yells the mob.) If you have no extra rooms, do you just—gasp!—both try and be aware of the other when you decorate your co-spaces? (“THAT SOUNDS REASONABLE ALTHOUGH NOT NEARLY AS FUN AS THE TWO ROOM CONCEPT!”)
Okay but now I’m seriously asking. What can you do? How can you make sure you both have your little spaces? What kinds of spaces do you have already? Or, ladies, if you have a Woman Cave (real or imaginary), what’s in it? Oh no, I just realized how dirty the phrase “Woman Cave” is. Ugh, it’s a stupid phrase anyway. Anyone have a better suggestion? Lady Space? Woman Domain?