Dr. Helen

The Man Tower

We all know about man caves where men hide out in the basement with few or no doors and windows as they have generally been given the worst place in the house (with the exception of maybe the garage or the doghouse). Brett McKay, the author of The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man writes about the decline of male space in modern times:

The rise of suburban culture with its emphasis on creating a domestic nest, usually meant sacrificing male space for the good of the family. Home designs in the 1950s exchanged the numerous, smaller rooms of the Victorian home for fewer, larger rooms. The goal was to create more open space where families could congregate together and bond while watching the Honeymooners on TV.

With no room to call their own, men were forced to build their male sanctuaries in the most uninhabitable parts of a home. Garages, attics, and basements quickly became the designated space for men, while the women and children had free reign over the rest of the house.

Men filled these rooms with the trappings of manliness- animal heads, discarded furniture, and pictures of sports figures (or women) would adorn the room. They would use their “man caves” as a place to retreat to when the demands of work and family life felt suffocating. Here they could play cards with their friends or tinker around, working on their car, reading the paper, or doing some woodworking.

But even these undesirable areas of the home would be taken away from men. Basements and attics became game or entertainment rooms to be used mainly by children. And even the least feminine of all places-the garage-would be cleaned up and domesticated.

Lately, I have been talking to men who have decided to call it quits in the basement and get a better room in the house. Rather than slinking down to the basement, they are looking for more open rooms upstairs or in a bonus area of the house with windows. Even my husband Glenn decided to move upstairs to a room with a view and some light. This is probably healthier for men overall, and particularly those who tend toward depression as there is research showing that bright light may work to treat nonseasonal depression as well.

I say a revolution needs to take place, one where men decide to claim a better room with a better view and some light. Men often say they are fine in the basement where it is dark or dingy but when I talk with men who have made the change to a room upstairs with a view and some light, they say they feel better and less depressed.

The Man Tower needs to replace the Man Cave for those who want it. Quit slinking down to the basement and demand justice!