A Brief Defense of Man Caves
Carrie Lukas, writing at Acculturated, presents her argument against man caves. She thinks they're a symptom of men who are self-focused children in men's bodies, using their isolation to avoid their responsibilities.
At the basest level, she argues that man caves represent a withdrawal from the shared spaces of the family into an exclusive space for self.
the man cave by its very name announces that it is for me. Whatever happens in the room is merely an artifact of my desires and my personality.
The implication is that the rest of the house—the joint bedroom and the nice kitchen and the kids’ messy quarters and the other TV room—cannot adequately serve me and my precious individuality. (Women, apparently, are not such fragile snowflakes that they need their own room to express themselves. After all, she has the kitchen, right?)
She implies that the entire house is a shared space, reflecting the entire family, and that men aren't satisfied with that. I disagree.
I argue that the entire house is an expression of the woman's aesthetic and interests. The woman puts her mark on the entire house, leaving the man no space to express his own aesthetic and interests. Far from the woman having just the kitchen as her space, you can see her influence throughout the house, including the other TV room, the kids' rooms, and the shared bedroom.
If you don't believe me, ask yourself a few questions. Who chose the color scheme in each of the rooms? Who chose the furniture? Who chose the fittings for the bathrooms and kitchen? Who selected the artwork for the walls? Who decided what is—and isn't—appropriate for each room?
More importantly, who holds the veto over design decisions? Does a man's "I don't think like that" carry the day or is it just an ignorant opinion to be ignored? Conversely, does a man get his choices in spite of the woman's "I don't like that" or does her dislike carry the day?
In my experience, each room of a house expresses the woman's personality and sense of style. Men retreat to man caves because that's the only way they can express their own personalities and see a tangible sign of their own presence in the family.