Episode 610: This Space Where I Was Free

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we head down into the basement.

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Peter Fenzel and Matthew Wrather take a trip downstairs into the basement, discussing the personal and cultural meanings of this space that is both outside and inside of the house, and offer alternate explanations of the phenomenon of the “man cave.”

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2 Comments on “Episode 610: This Space Where I Was Free”

  1. John C Member #

    The funny thing about basements, for me, is that–due to people with “active” basements referring to them as dens, workshops, playrooms, or whatnot–I was probably in high school before I realized that some people actually use their basements as rooms instead of an enormous version of Fibber McGee’s closet, though my father eventually cleaned out half the basement to build a walk-in refrigerator, making it so much more dangerous to be down there. To this day, I basically ignore the basement of the house I rent except when I need to do laundry.

    (Garages were similar. It was years before I saw a person actually store a working car in a garage. Non-working cars buried under piles of garbage, maybe, but never anything that could be driven somewhere…)

    Given that the “man cave” term seems recent to me, I always assumed it was an ironic take on the Batcave. Google’s ngram search shows plenty of approximate matches pre-2000 or so, but they’re mostly in the vein of “the Peking Man cave,” as in a reference to the archaeological dig site. But speaking of Batman, I remember an absurd episode of the “serious” ’90s animated series where the plot hinges on the heroes recognizing that an offhanded comment about needing to pick something up from “down in the basement” was secretly “racer slang” for a bad crash. I have no idea whether or not that’s true, but it’s still a hilariously shaky clue. Ah. “The Mechanic,” near the end of the second season, for anybody who wants to track that down.

    Oh, and obviously, congratulations! It sounds a lot like where my friend and his family live. It’s a really nice area that I don’t get up to nearly enough. Mind you, it’s one of those “As Seen in Early American Poetry” suburbs, so it’s also kind of a nightmare to visit on the patriotic holidays…


    • John C Member #

      Somehow I didn’t listen to the last five minutes until…well, now, but I have to agree that inequality cuts both ways, and a lot of what we talk about as “toxic masculinity” is the attempt to pretend that we can somehow fix the problems of inequality by making things less equal. I used to have a collection of links to studies showing that, on every level of granularity–from sex up through families and on to nations and multinational companies–equality makes everybody in relationships happier.


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