(NB: This is an extended version of the article appearing in the October issue of Darwin Life Magazine)
I’m talking about the man cave. The boy’s room. That designated area in the home for all things mannish. Whether it’s a tin shed, a study, or that spare room upstairs; the man cave is fast gaining popularity among today’s men. In fact some people ‘unofficially’ plan the room when they’re building or buying a new house.
If you’re a female and you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about – I’m actually referring to those guys that have a special room of their own in the house or on the property to watch sports – or Jason Statham movies, to play pool, drink beer, and discuss their favourite thing about Jessica Alba and the best way to barbecue a rump steak.
It provides a place for masculine reinvigoration and salvaging male ego. The activities inside are designed to help men rejuvenate, and reclaim their feelings of manhood. Where guys are free to smoke, yell at the TV, work-out, entertain mates, and you know… slay dragons if they want.
The bottom line is that it’s the man’s area, under his control.
The official term “man cave” seems to have come about only in recent years, but the idea is as old as man himself. Indeed, at one time men DID live in caves, which served as effective protection from the elements.
Perhaps the modern phenomena of man’s need to isolate himself in personal bliss and privacy is derived from this basic instinct – that of protecting himself from the elements. Modern day elements such as TV shows like Desperate Housewives. Music by Taylor Swift, or Michael Buble, and possibly more dangerous elements like nagging wives and screaming children.
Think about your dad. If he had a shed which he would retire to at some point before or after dinner – he had a man cave. Despite the fact that he was probably being productive, (unlike men’s rooms of today), it was still his zone. Your mum probably only ever went in there to tell him dinner was ready. It was your dad who designed the shed and decided where to put stuff. Men don’t usually get this privilege inside the home, in many cases – not even their own bedroom. So it seems fair that guys might want an area at home where they have complete say-so.
I spoke to a well known Darwin bloke who wishes to remain anonymous. Probably because his man cave (known simply as ‘The Shed,’) is in his words – “kick-arse.” He tells me that his space is a work in progress.
The Shed, set on a 13 acre property is like nothing you’ve seen before. There’s a big TV, monster stereo, air hockey, pool table, foosball, dart board, shooting game, Daytona game and pinball game. The Shed also includes original pieces of furniture from well known Darwin drinking holes AND a WW2 (hollow) bomb. Just – cool STUFF.
‘Cool stuff’ seems to be a pre-requisite for a Man’s Cave. No longer satisfied with a shed full of tools, the man cave must now be decorated, and something the man can boast about and show off to his mates with.
And just like men can’t speak shoe and think we’re crazy for wanting so many, most women don’t get the man’s room obsession.
The process whereby man fervently desires gadgets and toys for his room, and spends many months hunting down the best possible deal. When plasma/speaker/computer-game/leather recliner prey is finally sighted and killed at Harvey Norman, it’s dragged back to the cave by triumphant man who waits for ‘oooh-aaah’ accolades from woman. Woman gives large items in room disinterested glance and wanders off. Man proudly assembles his ‘cool stuff’ over the ensuing months, whereby he receives several high fives from his mates.
Quite possibly – the man cave is the new form of penis extension.
I ask my Darwin friend what any man considering creating his own space should start with. Just to confirm my theory of cool stuff. “Loud music and a beer fridge,” he laughs, “but you’ve also got to have something you can stand around and do.”
Traditionally, man caves are designed to keep women and children out, but The Shed, he says, is “not a boys club, although girls tend to not stay too long.”
He claims only part of it is about escaping to a man’s world. Hmmm…. Maybe.
But considering that man caves in various forms have been around for centuries, history dictates otherwise.
Consider some historical examples:
Mark Twain who often spent the summer with his sister, needed somewhere to get some work done. Twain built himself a writing hut on her property where he was free from distractions, inspired by the setting, and could write in peace and quiet.
In addition to being a statesman, Winston Churchill was also a talented artist. He loved to paint so much that he built himself an art studio in his estate’s garden. When he felt the “Black Dog” of depression, he would retreat to his studio and keep the darkness away by painting.
After Theodore Roosevelt’s Dakota cattle business failed, he returned to New York and built a home in Oyster Bay. There – he would go to relax, romp in the woods, and revitalize his man spirit. The crowning manly jewel of the house was his trophy room where he kept his collection of dead wild game.
In even more ancient times we see proof. Elijah from the Bible also had one:
1 Kings 19:9 – And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
From this it’s clear that Elijah was simply taking a break from it all, and he possibly responded to the Lord with, “Gee Lord, I was just relaxing in my man cave, sheesh!”
And so we see – the man cave or boy’s room is nothing new. But I think the reason it’s making a huge comeback – in a more commercial, decorated, 21st century kind of way… is this: In the old days, men were the head of the home. These days, it’s the woman who occupies the title of ‘Household CEO.’
We are the ones who tend to have final decisions on purchases for the home like cars or furniture. On holiday destinations, on schools for our children… almost everything.
I can therefore understand why it might be prudent for the man to have his own space; A scented candle-free zone that represents who he is – where he can just, be.