City Paper is not for tourists
Late Monday evening, while lounging on the couch, perusing the Internet, drinking a beer, and watching Stanley Cup Playoff hockey on my 37-inch LCD HD television all from the comfort of my own bedroom, I found myself reading this ABC News report, entitled, “Men Say Bye to the Bar, Hang Out in a ‘Manspace.'”
Sports bars and pool halls used to be the haunts of men craving time alone.
But now, some men are creating guys-only spaces in their own homes.
Tired of being sidelined to the neighborhood pub, basement or garage, they’re creating chic retreats for their enjoyment—-and no one else’s.
These spaces include an old water cistern in California, a backyard barn outside Boston, a room in a Harlem apartment—-each different, each a “manspace.”
Of the many supposed “manspaces” ABC News would have you believe populate the United States at an ever-increasing rate, the article goes on to specifically mention, uh, the same old water cistern in California, backyard barn outside Boston, and Harlem apartment room mentioned in the beginning. Which is not actually all that impressive a list. It’s the last of those three that I find the most disconcerting, however: Sure, an entirely separate building completely redesigned and/or refurnished with one man’s manly needs in mind could, arguably, make a case for “totally awesome, brah!” But a fucking room in an apartment that somehow climbs above the status of “study,” “den,” or “hobby-area” to earn the dubious distinction of “manspace?” In my book, that screams of Grade A-level douchebaggery. And yet, it’s a crime that—-after casting a quick glance around my immediate surroundings—-I now begin to worry is one of which I am guilty.
Yes, it is true, I have specifically furnished my medium-sized bedroom in a four-bedroom Mount Pleasant group house with the intention of creating a private area in which I can watch sports, play video games, and make music for as long and as loud as I want to without (a) being interrupted by anyone else and (b) hogging up the common areas of the house. HDTV with HD tuner and DVR: Check. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2: Check. Mini-recording studio as well as a guitar, bass, and drum machine: Check. Comfy-yet-ratty couch: Most definitely check. Granted, I’m short my own mini-fridge and private bathroom. But, for the former, I’m currently working on a makeshift dumbwaiter that can be lowered from my bedroom window to the window directly outside the kitchen (where, hopefully, a roommate will be kind enough to send a few bottles of beer my way); for the latter, well, I’ll certainly have plenty of empty beer bottles, now, won’t I?
Of course, this arrangement could also simply be the result of years’ worth of living in dorm rooms, studio apartments, and other cramped quarters. (As far as the hanging-out-at-pubs-vs.-home bit, it certainly doesn’t help that a convenience store six-pack is cheaper than a pint of beer at most bars around town.) And it’s not as if I have a “No Girls Allowed” sign hung on my front door—-anyone’s welcome to come in, assuming they’re also there to watch hockey or play video games. In fact, going by the guidelines set forth by ManSpace: A Primal Guide to Marking Your Territory author Sam Martin—-who, in the article, says that “The only think [sic] that makes a manspace a manspace is that the guy has total control of what goes on in there”—-my room doesn’t come close to classifying: As a renter, I have anything but total control over what changes I can and can’t make to my room.
So, all facts considered, I have decided: No—-this does not constitute a “manspace.” I am no anti-social manimal. This is not some mantasy land. It’s nothing more than a bedroom, one of which each person living in the house—-man or woman—-has to furnish and use in whatever ways they want. And the privacy it affords me is no less than or greater than the privacy my roommates’ bedrooms afford them. Really, this whole concept of a “manspace” seems more than a bit contrived.
So, what, exactly is one to make of this so-called phenomenon? Is it the intentional opening of a dialogue about the gender-based power struggles, senses of entitlement, and spatial tug-of-wars that exist within every cohabitational household? Or maybe it’s yet another example of consumer culture trying to convince people to buy into a prescribed lifestyle—-one that can only be achieved with a credit card, a Sharper Image catalog, and a trip to Ikea?
More likely, this is just a poorly-written piece of fluff stating a fact that’s been well understood since the first caveman grunted, “Yo, get your own fucking cave”: People need their goddamned space.