From the Editor - October 2011
Sally wears a dress by muse from Browns of Remuera.
Photographed by Jane Ussher; hair by Michael Kent; make-up by Kaitlin Chapman
Men need their own space. It’s in their DNA. That’s the message from Steve Hale, author of a new book on Kiwi man caves.
Steve – who we interview in this issue – found male bolt-holes springing up in homes all over the country, including a shed lined with dozens of deer, onyx and water buffalo heads and a maimai that’s taken five men 15 years to perfect.
Now Steve is a blokey sort of bloke, of solid build and beer-drinking habit. He is not the sort of person I would choose to argue with. Just look at his picture on page 178 of the magazine.
But it did occur to me, when I read his book, that maybe he was being presumptuous about this being a man-only thing. Who is Steve to say that women, too, don’t have a genetic urge to create designer bolt-holes where they can bond with their friends?
By way of research I asked six people in the office, “Have you got a space at home that is yours?” Here’s (more or less) what they said:
Females: “Ahhh… not really. Maybe the chair in the end room?”
Males: “You bet.” (A long impassioned description followed, with mutterings about deer heads and beer fridges.)
The evidence was unequivocal. I talked to a few women friends (a final, clinching bit of research) about why this difference between the sexes exists. We came up with three reasons. Women, we decided, just don’t need to escape to the shed to share their thoughts with their mates. They will share anywhere – leaning on the kitchen bench with a coffee, for example. Second, women’s hobbies are often of the indoor variety that don’t require skilsaws or fume hoods and, third, women tend to like being connected to what is going on in the wider home rather than escaping from it.
I particularly relate to this last bit. If there’s a place in our home that is particularly mine, it’s smack bang in the middle of the kitchen, cooking up a storm with all my utensils and a cool chardonnay at hand. I’m doing something I enjoy, but I’m still at the nerve centre of the family. Wild horses wouldn’t drag me away to a shed at the bottom of the garden.
In the interests of scientific accuracy I do have to say I know a few women (mostly those with big hobbies) who say they need a cave. One has a studio with a huge work table and cabinets full of materials for quilting, box-making, sewing and jewellery-making. “It’s my space and I love it.” I also know a few men who say they don’t need a cave.
Exceptions aside though, there’s little doubt that Kiwi men do seem to have a more ingrained need for their own caves than women do. In conclusion, I agree with Steve entirely. Which is quite a relief.
|Story: Sally Duggan|