Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A room of his own

When men do interior decorating: The "man cave" in Albany. (From The Times Union)

Here's a picture of a space some state workers created for themselves inside the maintainance area of a garage in Albany, New York. They had it all, a place to relax, some access to entertainment, the works. They also hung out here in their work hours and smoked pot.
It has been called a "man cave" by the press, and I think the primeval images this conjures up is no coincidence. To a significant degree, male taste and needs have been squeezed out of many homes. In one way this looks like laziness on the men's part: They just can't be bothered to do anything about it. But saying the same about certain women's inability to change fuses, say, would be outrageous. These kind of women, though steadily getting fewer, derive some benefit from not having to take care of absolutely everything, while their men get a nice feeling of superiority by taking care of it. Same goes for how a home is decorated. Choose your battles, some men seem to think to themselves. Let the missus choose the drapes and wallpaper.
But then you're left with no place to call your own. Except maybe the bar or, possibly, the gym.
Author James Kunstler has some interesting thoughts, occasionally slopplily presented, on the subject of male space in his latest podcast.
Me, I got this all sorted out. Nothing to complain about. But I am struck by the combination of neutered men and abhorrent misogony I find in areas and cultures where men have little or no say about their personal environment. Suburban areas often fit that bill, unless there is some access to a cool garage.


Oldfool said...

Having observed this phenomenon over the years I believe that men, at least American men, have brought this on themselves. In my youth my male role models were at work daily and catered to when they came home in the evening. On weekends they fixed things, built things or did other chores that were considered man work. Their meals were made, laundry done and they always had a part of the living room that was theirs. There was dads or grandpas chair, magazine/newspaper table and control of the radio/TV. To sit there was a privilege and whoever did immediately got up when HE entered the room. In better off family's there was the den and/or shop that was the man room. The rest of the house was there as support.
This house is pretty much my wife's and the grand kids now as I have my man room. I live in a converted Greyhound Bus in the front yard with my stuff. Happily I might add. I know of only one other family man that has a man room and several that do not. You can guess which is the happiest.
Sorry this comment is so long but this subject is dear to my heart and in fact I have a draft for an unpublished post on this subject.
Keep up the good work. I keep track of you daily.

Northmark said...

In my experience, the women I would want to hang out with always get this subject immediately. And have often even noticed the phenomenon on their own. I am impressed by this, as popular culture generally transmits a very narrow definition of what a decent household should look like.

A Greyhound bus in the front yard! This sounds ideal. The state-owned train company sold some old passenger wagons quite cheaply some years ago, but I could never figure out how to deal with the transport issues.

Oldfool said...

Oh yes, a railroad car, another fantasy of mine. I can see it in my mind as clearly as if it were real.

ha1ku said...

I would definitely insist on my own space, however small it may be. The important thing is that I have complete privacy and comfort.