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Man Caves

man cave or manspace, is a male sanctuary, such as a specially equipped garage, spare bedroom, media room, den, or basement. It is a metaphor describing a room inside the house where "guys can do as they please" without fear of upsetting any female sensibility about house decor or design. Paula Aymer of Tufts University calls it the "last bastion of masculinity".

While a wife may have substantial authority over a whole house in terms of design and decoration, she generally has no say about what gets "mounted on the walls" of a man's personal space. Since it may be accepted that a woman has input on the decoration of the rest of the house, a man cave or man space is in some sense a reaction to feminine domestic power.

Man caves have multiple purposes: they are a place to be alone, to be away from women and from female sensibilities, to indulge in hobbies, and to hang out with male friends. It is, loosely, a male-only space to retreat to watch sports matches, or play video games. According to psychiatrist and author Scott Haltzman, it is important for a man to have a place to call his own, referring to a male area to which to retreat. Some psychologists claim that a man cave can provide refuge from stressful surroundings and be beneficial to marriage. Rules are relaxed; it is a place where other people's sensibilities about standards of cleanliness are not necessarily observed; as one man said, "You spill a beer there or leave a hamburger overnight, who cares?"

In a sense, for married men, it is a way to recreate some of the space and freedom of their bachelor days since it was like a "pad" similar in feeling to a frat house game room or a college dorm roomwhere people could come and go "as if they owned the place." It is where a man doesn't have to be on his best behavior, where no women are around, and where "no one is going to make you watch your p's and q's" and "no one is going to ask you to explain yourself". Writer and handymanSam Martin explained:

Men have had an identity problem since the women's movement. They have tried to figure out who they're supposed to be. For a while women wanted them to be more sensitive, so they were more sensitive. Then women wanted them to be more manly. One of the things I discovered is when men have their own manspace, what they put inside of it is really an expression of who they are. Manspace is about establishing an identity for a man. Our premise is that women have control of the look and the feel of the house and that left guys wanting more. Anybody who has a specific interest or hobby or work or collection is going to want a space to indulge that.

—Sam Martin, in the Chicago Tribune, 2007

Martin thinks that any space in the house will do, even a lounge chair and a set of headphones, provided there's an agreement with one's wife or girlfriend that the space is under the control of the man. The advantages of a self-contained room are that male-oriented design choices, such as "tacky lamps" and "beer-can sculptures", are out of sight of women, but in a way that doesn't disturb female sensibilities since visitors generally don't visit the man cave. It's like a firehouse lounge room, but in the home.

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