I hear it everywhere: on television commercials and shows, from friends and even from my daughter. Men have, or want to have, “man-caves.” You know, every man wants to have a room he can decorate with posters of sports and beer. A place where he can house his weight lifting gear or running shoes, pool table or tools. Now, I wonder, when did this phrase, “man-cave” come into every day parlance? Or more to the point, “why” did this phrase come into common use?
When I think of cave I think of Elizabeth George, the mystery writer from England who once played out a story along the caves of coastal England. Or I think of the story in the news some years back and retold by Barbara Kingsolver in “Small Wonder.” She writes
“On a cool October day in the oak-forested hills of Lorestan province in Iran, a lost child was saved in an inconceivable way. The news of it came to me as a parable I keep turning over in my mind, a message from some gentler universe than this one. I carry it like a treasure map while I look for the place where I’ll understand its meaning…..At the mouth of the next cave they enter—the fourth or the hundredth, nobody will know this detail because forever after it will be the first and last—they hear a voice. Definitely it’s a cry, a child…”
I think of prehistoric cave paintings and I think of Neanderthal men.
I don’t know for certain, because I’m not, but if I were a man I think I might find the phrase, “man-cave” a little insulting. As a feminist I find it insulting on behalf of the men I love, who are definitely not “Neanderthals.” Even the men I don’t like, and I can name a few (Akin the legitimate rape*cough cough* guy comes to mind along with those who are surely his cohorts – Gingrich, Limbaugh, Rove, Cheney – types)….even these, who come darn close to Neanderthalism, as a feminist I still consider them human beings. And as human they have the intellectual capacity to learn and grow. Really, anything is possible.
So, I think man-cave is an odd phrase. Now let’s be clear. Just as I like to have my own room for study, yoga, and meditation, I think it’s perfectly fine for my husband, or any man, to have a room for the activities that enable them to feel human and enjoy life. I just think it’s weird, even a little insulting to call it a man-cave.
But now that’s off my chest I can get back to thinking about more important subjects…like politics. Or, religion.