Man cave

Man cave
A man cave decorated with Civil War memorabilia.

A man cave, sometimes a mantuary[1] or manspace,[2] is a male sanctuary,[3] such as a specially equipped garage,[4] spare bedroom,[3] media room,[5] den,[6] or basement.[6][7] It is not a cave but rather a metaphor describing a room inside the house, such as the basement or garage or attic or office, or outside the house such as a wood shed or tool room, where "guys can do as they please" without fear of upsetting any female sensibility about house decor or design.[8] Paula Aymer of Tufts University calls it the "last bastion of masculinity".[8]

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.[8] 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.[8] While the term man cave has connotations of retreating to a more primitive primal place, the term man space has been used which does not have the same positive connotations.[8]



A motorcycle enthusiast's man cave

Man caves have multiple purposes: they're 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,[9] watch sports matches,[10] or play video games.[6] 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.[1] 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?"[2]

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 room where people could come and go "as if they owned the place."[2] 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".[2] Writer and handyman Sam 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[11]

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.[11] 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.[11] It's like a firehouse lounge room, but in the home.[12]


An office man cave.

According to several sources, the general architectural and design trend is for men to take traditionally male-only spaces, and enhance them with improvements and masculine aesthetic choices. Man caves can be equipped with accessories such as refrigerators,[4][13] vending machines,[5][13] putting greens, kegerators,[3] giant TVs,[3] musical instruments including gear such as microphone stands and amplifiers,[7][8] pool tables, boxing rings,[11] and entertainment centers. A man cave may also be fitted out with a bar and sports memorabilia such as trophies.[8][10]

One man redecorated the space to look like a replica model of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from the TV show.[11] Upscale sports-themed furnishings are also available to outfit a man cave.[5] These rooms are also often decorated by the male, with little-to-no female influence.[14] A big screen television is useful for watching sports games with buddies.[8] Since it is an area set off from the rest of the house, it's possible to make noise, or yell at the television, without fear of reprisals from a wife, girlfriend or mother.[8]

Garages have typically been a man space since they're often lit by "harsh fluorescent bulbs" and lack heat or air conditioning but nevertheless present a guy with an "opportunity to disappear for hours while never leaving the premises."[2] There are some reports suggesting that some men are likely to "lavish time, money and attention on fixing this spot up".[2] Places in houses which have been typically associated with male-oriented chores, such as garages, basements and tool sheds which haven't been "particularly welcoming spaces" when shared with storage items and garbage, are being fixed up to be more suitable as full-time living spaces, with more thought to design and planning.[11] One man cave of a Gillette corporation executive has a desk, "a chess board that's always set up, never used".[8] But sometimes there are limits; his wife has not yet agreed to letting him smoke cigars in it.[8]

Popular culture

In the book by Sam Martin entitled Manspace: A Primal Guide to Marking Your Territory, the author suggested there were several spots from pop culture:

  • Jerry Seinfeld's apartment. One report suggested the Manhattan apartment of the character Jerry Seinfeld from the TV show represented "the epitome of a male hangout devoid of any female influence" since cereal boxes and mountain bikes suggested to viewers that "Guys rule."[2]
  • Tim Taylor's garage. In the TV sitcom Home Improvement, Tim Taylor used to "bring to life all manner of high-powered monster machines."[2]
  • Bada Bing room. In the TV show The Sopranos, Tony's gang would meet in a windowless "dingy office" in a strip club.[2] It was a "guys-only place within a guys-only place."[2]
  • John Cage's secret bathroom room'. In the TV show Ally Mcbeal, John has a hidden room in one of the bathroom stalls.

See also


  1. ^ a b Goodman, Michelle (May 2, 2008). "Why he needs a room of his own". Cable News Network (CNN). Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Marco R. della Cava (2007-01-04). "Manspace: The final frontier of guydom". USA Today. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  3. ^ a b c d Howard, Theresa (2007-08-16). "Alltel website takes interactive campaign into man cave". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  4. ^ a b Palmeri, Chris (2006-12-06). "Where's Your Man Cave?". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  5. ^ a b c Hales, Linda (2006-01-07). "Sporting Up the 'Man Cave'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  6. ^ a b c Jones, Scott (2008-12-09). "Gifts Guaranteed To Keep Your Gamer's Thumbs Warm". Hartford Courant.,0,2973678.story. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  7. ^ a b "Divine Design redesigns a basement". Star Tribune. 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Leigh Belanger (February 3, 2005). "Man land: More homes have a room just for him, and you'll know it when you see it". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  9. ^ Breckenridge, Mary Beth (2007-12-15). "Quick, to the man cave". Akron Beacon Journal ( Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  10. ^ a b Collier, Joe Guy (2005-10-08). "Man Cave: A place to call his own". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Elana Ashanti Jefferson of the New York Times News Services (June 03, 2007). "Men are staking out personal space at home". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  12. ^ Carly Baldwin (March 21, 2008). "The 13th Street firehouse is a "Man Cave" (again)". Newark Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  13. ^ a b Hiestand, Michael (2004-01-29). "Want a Super ticket? Invest in sports futures". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  14. ^ Evans, Roni (2004-01-26). "Urban Dictionary: man cave". Retrieved 2009-01-26. 

External links

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