Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Man Cave by Sharon O'Donnell

I am just a little bit tired of the phrase ‘man cave’. It implies that men need a place to get away, to hide out, to escape from all that surrounds them – but women don’t have that same need. I actually read in one of the on-line definitions of this phrase that a man cave is a place men need to go because women have “control” of the rest of the house; the male needs somewhere he feels he can be in control.

Give me a break. If indeed a woman is in “control” of the rest of the house, it’s because she has to be or the family structure would fall completely apart. Perhaps none of these males will vacuum, cook, do laundry, or even put toilet paper in the bathrooms -- and somebody has to do it. And I would love for men to share with us the enormous task of keeping and coordinating the calendar and schedule for the family. It’d be wonderful to have another human being in the house who knows when doctor’s appointments, practices, school events, and everything else is besides me. Sometimes I feel if I were to die now, the doctors would have to somehow de-program me so all the family-related information I have stored in my brain would not be lost. If something ever happens to me, somebody please tell someone in my family that the dog gets his heartworm medicine on the 24th of each month.
Look guys, we will gladly give up some control if you would take some of it from us. “Control” is another way – a guy’s way – to say ‘responsibility’. Evidently because we control the house, we decorate it as we see fit, while they want their own space to decorate with sports pennants, beer bottles, and posters of Sports Illustrated swim suit models. We decorate with the family in mind, guys – to make our house a home and good memories for our children. This means yes, we have to use some good taste and to make things comfortable and wholesome for our kids. You’d better believe there are times that I’d love to take down the painting of the California coastline or our framed wedding invitation from the family room, the Biblical scripture about “I am the vine, you are the branches” from the dining room or the practical spice rack in the kitchen and instead put up a huge poster of Brad Pitt, John Stamos, or a shirtless Matthew McConaughey, but I refrain from doing so. Probably would have done that in college, but I’m not in college anymore – and neither are the men who want to retreat into a man cave. Actually, in college, it was a poster of Tom Selleck. Mmmmm Magnum PI!

But I digress. Being in a cave suggests that men are tuning women out. Since when do they need a cave to do that? A special room in which to continue to be oblivious and clueless?
All right, I know that everyone needs a little time away, as the group Chicago once sang about in a song. But why is it just the men seem to have this need acknowledged and addressed by giving them a room all to themselves? Another definition of man cave from the Internet is “an emotional sanctuary for men when they're stressed and need ‘space’”. Ha, ha, ha. There is nothing emotional going on in a man cave – just the opposite.

My husband doesn’t have a man cave, primarily because we don’t have the extra room in our house to have one. Over my dead body would he have a man cave before I got a laundry room! We do have some sports banners and photos in our family room, however, complete with a new big screen TV. I’m glad he wanted to share that with the rest of us instead of trying to put it in a man cave. Don’t think my teenage sons would have liked that either.

Of course like anything else connected with men, the phrase ‘man cave’ now has some rather graphic sexual connotations, unfortunately. Hell, they can’t even respect the term ‘man cave’ enough to not turn it into something risqué.

I’ve read several articles about the ultimate man caves, but there's only been one time I've been in one. It was at the home of my youngest son’s football coach for an end-of-the-season party last fall. He graciously opened it up to women and kids because it was the perfect lay-out for a social gathering, particularly because the door opened up to an outdoor pool. There was also in the room the mandatory big screen TV, a pool table, and lots of sports banners. Outside by the pool, there was – I kid you not – a tiki bar with a bamboo roof. Jimmy Buffet was playing when we got there. Only one problem: sometimes it’s hard to turn a man cave into a family place. As all of us parents and kids were sitting there talking and eating pizza, the Jimmy Buffet song, “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw?” came on. Now some of us parents noticed right off, but we didn’t really know the coach well enough to go censor his music, thinking that he’d realize his mistake quickly. Well, he must have been in the midst of a very interesting conversation with someone because he didn’t seem to notice. Parents glanced around at each other uncomfortably, as if to say, “I’m not going to tell him, you tell him.” But suddenly, the coach made a beeline for the CD player and changed the song, turning to the parents and laughing. “Whoops,” he said. A little violation of man cave protocol, I guess. So beware of mixing family events and man caves.

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Blogger Von said...

On this side of the world blokes have sheds, some women too if they're lucky!It is sacred space and never to be tampered with by anyone but the owner.
If a couple in a partnership negotiate the family tasks why shouldn't each have a place for reflection and time out?

11:08 PM  
Blogger rsinger said...

Oh Sharon, you're so silly. The woman-cave is the kitchen! Or the bathroom, where you escape to take a long bubblebath. That's all you really need, isn't it?
(I'm rolling my eyes as I post)
In our home, we are lucky to have an offce for my husband, and an office for me too...which our daughter calls her playroom. Sigh.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Lily said...

It is sacred space and never to be tampered with by anyone but the owner.OYODENTAL

1:10 AM  

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