Home Depot Makes the “Man Cave” Official

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Props to my girl Erin for finding this gem at Home Depot – that’s right, the store is offering the “Top 10 Man Cave” paint colors, hence making the “no women allowed” den of sports, beer and manly brouhaha to escape the oppressive forces of their wives an official room of the hetero household…and to be painted bold, masculine colors.

See more on how the concept (and advertising) of the “man cave” isn’t just about a place for an individual to be able to decompress, but a largely anti-women space.

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12 Comments

  1. Posted January 27, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Growing up where I did, both men and women watched football together. And both were equally interested in it. My mother was as much of a fan as was my father. And the same is true with my partner and her family.

    I’ve always found something inherently creepy about homosocial male bonding, but this may be because I simply don’t understand the appeal. I’ve always believed that we were enriched when men and women both were allowed to participate in shared activities.

    • Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      As far as a room like this serves as someone’s own space, there isn’t really a problem, but certainly there is a concern when gendered labels come up, particularly since it also does not allocate the same sort of luxury to women (not that “separate but equal” works anyway). The insinuation seems to be (with mix-sexed couples) that somehow the rest of the house belongs more to the woman, either because she’s ostensibly more in control with how the rooms are set up, or because she is ostensibly more in control of the activities in these other rooms. In terms of whether these perceptions have some basis in reality or whether they reflect men wanting to be too much in control is another matter — they are both true, although to different extents, and your mileage will vary.

      If a person in a relationship feels threatened or overwhelmed by the structure of a house, the couple should probably work on some sort of understanding that doesn’t rely on gendered devices. Maybe each person needs to have their own personal room to do stuff. Or perhaps the two simply need to set aside a time each of them can have to themselves. At the same time, it would be prudent to discuss other issues — such as making sure work and responsibilities are distributed equitably (example: a ~stereotypical woman who does a disproportionate about of housework may expect a ~stereotypical man to sit with her during a TV show to her liking to make up for it, but where the man hasn’t thought critically about that arrangement and may just acknowledge them watching the TV show), and to find an arrangement where the partners can be happy

  2. Posted January 27, 2011 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I am uncertain that the concept of man cave is from “wanting to get away from women” and is more about “wanting to have a space of one’s own”. Without intentding to, because of the way we’re socialized, it may often end up that the whole house/apartment is where one partner spreads out, and the other feels a need to create a space that is their own. Traditionally (and heteronormatively) this is the woman having the house as her “domain” and the man having an office or “man cave”.
    This doesn’t make it any better – it assumes that the house, except for the man-cave, is the responsibility of the woman. But I think “must have space for me” is truer than the exaggeration of “must get away from women”.

  3. Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Not that I don’t think Home Depot shouldn’t be chastised for participating in this campaign, but shouldn’t we be more concerned with Glidden Paint for creating it in the first place?

  4. Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I am so uninterested in beer and football, but I do love my PS3 and home theater. When I was setting it up in the basement (It was a good place for it, no windows, sound insulated) everyone kept saying “Oh you’re going to have a man-cave!” and it really irritated me so I started referring to it as the monster cave (I’m a big Godzilla fan and have a Mothra mural in my livingroom). I was quick to tell people that it’s gender neutral and just a nice theater for all of my friends. Incidentally, the basement got flooded and now my theater is in the livingroom under Mothra. It’s much nicer because I don’t feel so cut off from the world.

    • Posted January 27, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      People reacted to me similarly when I set up my xbox and tv in my basement. They called it my “man-cave” even though I’m a woman. I saw what they were getting at and I know that they were joking, but I couldn’t help but say “errr…yeah, you’d think that but it’s actually just a cave. A cave of awesome for everyone.”

  5. Posted January 27, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I thought that incessant talk about man-caves had died out a bit but apparently I either stuck my head in the sand or it’s making a comeback. The DIY network is hosting this sweepstakes: http://www.diynetwork.com/diy-ultimate-man-cave-sweepstakes/package/index.html which gives that extra push in promoting their 6-season show “Man-Caves”. Interestingly, the current sweepstakes commercial does portray a woman who is just as thrilled about all of the toys that will be going in her (I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the advertisers would be fine if we assume this to be a married couple) husband’s new man-cave as “Da Man” himself. And I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. Like Nazza said, it does actually seem to promote the idea that women can be and are just as interested in things like sports which are primarily assumed to be solely in the purview of male interest. And I’m only talking about one commercial, of course – not having watched the show I can’t actually speak to whether or not it promotes this idea, too…but for the sake of argument let’s just say that the title “MAN Caves” doesn’t really seem to be a first step in that direction. With that in mind, I think even this commercial comes across as women legitimizing everything man, rather than having a stake in their own interests which may include sports, or beer, or video games, or rock music, etc, etc; it’s like saying “See! We recognize that women are interested in men stuff, too!” yet completely ignoring that plenty of women’s interest may actually mean that it’s not just “men stuff”…or even just “men and women” stuff for that matter. It’s the same conversation that always comes up in the face of “man-vertising” but for some reason that phrase “man cave” just gets me riled up like no other!

  6. Posted January 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Huh, I never interpreted “man cave” as anti-woman. When I think of a “man cave,” I always thought of it as a place where my fiance Mike can put his computer/techie stuff so I don’t have to trip over it. I didn’t think of it as a No Girls Allowed space, but more of a Here’s a Room Where You Can Do Your Thing Without Taking Up The Rest of the House space. Kinda like a craft room, but for computers and video games. I guess I shouldn’t necessarily call it a “man cave,” more of a “Mike cave.” It’s only a man cave because Mike is a man. . .

    • Posted January 28, 2011 at 2:11 am | Permalink

      I totally agree. This is definitely how my partner and I (and many of our friends) think of such spaces.

      I also think that it is ridiculous to refer to homo-social spaces as “creepy”.

  7. Posted January 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    FAIL. Just ’cause you have your room, doesn’t mean people won’t leave you alone. It’s like parents and their kids’ bedrooms

  8. Posted January 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    and to be painted bold, masculine colors.

    No, they’re all dull earth-tones. Bold colors are feminine, apparently.

  9. Posted January 28, 2011 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    I have never personally liked the name man cave, but in my experience, with friends and relatives who do have a ‘man cave’, it is typically as part of a compromise where the rest of the house is decorated by the female and then the one room gets to be decorated by the male. And usually its framed as “isn’t my wife awesome? she lets me have a man cave!” I am under no illusion that this is always the case, but it is certainly the case in some situations.

    With my former partner, when we discussed what our dream house would consist of, she was always very adamant that she would have her own room where she could do yoga and I was adamant about having a home theatre room. We never used the gender exclusive language, and also never would have considered excluding each other from ‘our’ room, but we both knew that the yoga room would have been used mostly by her and the home theatre room would have been used mostly by me because that is where our interests were. In my experience the language used in describing these spaces is pretty archaic, but the actual thoughts and planning going into them are more about compromise and trying to do things to make each other happy. And in that sense, although “Mike’s cave” would be better than “Man cave”, I think it ranks very low on the priority list. Much lower than say, the larger distribution in household chores done by women, even when both people are working full time jobs.

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