Into the Man Cave

What Women Really Think
June 2 2009 9:57 PM

Into the Man Cave

Greg Beato, my go-to source for weird insights into mass culture, has a very funny analysis of the DIY show Man Caves over at the Smart Set. The show is premised on the idea that men need man-friendly rooms in which to be manly, and the hosts help regular guys turn ordinary rooms into testosterone-rich dens featuring, say, stripper poles and motorcycles. But Beato thinks the masculine showboating is just the price of entry to an aesthetic realm typically reserved for women and gay men:

If today’s men don’t seem quite as grown-up as their grandfathers did, they show a much greater flair for decorating and design. Of course, men, or at least straight men, are wary about talking too enthusiastically about the way a well-proportioned ceramic tile can really open up a narrow room-so they develop strategies for masculinizing their passions. In the 1970s, their medium of extravagant creative expression was the custom van: Small block engines were the perfect beards for beaded curtains. In the 1990s, professional wrestling gave straight men a venue to unabashedly appreciate fringed Speedos; silver lamé high-tops; and greasy, fussed-over Botticellian mullets-not in a gay way, but simply as a sourcebook of ideas to use in their own efforts to unleash their inner peacocks. Now it’s Man Caves .
Advertisement

All of which would suggest that Man Caves is less about affirming some prior idea of maleness than expanding its scope.

Kerry Howley's work has appeared in the Paris Review, Bookforum, and the New York Times Magazine. She is currently finishing a book about consensual violence, ecstatic experience, and the body.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.