Would you believe it’s been more than two years since I last ranted about the Decline of Civilization? Me neither, but it’s true.
Lest you think I’m getting soft, I’m going to remedy the lack. And no, it’s got nothing to do with politics. At least not directly. Today, we’re all about language. Specifically, the gender-prefix.
Oh, you know what I mean. The addition of a gender-linked modifier to a perfectly good gender-irrelevant word. Man bun. Man purse. Man cave.
Don’t think I’m exaggerating my disgust with this phenomenon for the sake of a blog post. I loathe the trend. Not to put too fine a point on it, this creation of invisible–in truth, non-existent–gender distinctions is exactly the process that leads to gender-linked pay disparities, “just kidding” harassment, and rampant discrimination.
Really. Think about it.
There’s no such thing as a man bun–or a woman bun for that matter. It’s a bun. Period. Exactly the same hairstyle regardless of who’s wearing it. I’ve got no dog in this race: one look at my photo will tell you my hair isn’t ever going to fit into a bun.
The only reason the style looks odd on a man is because you’re not used to seeing it. It’s a style traditionally worn by women, so there’s that moment of cognitive dissonance until you get used to it. Regrettably, neophobia is a real thing, and those who suffer from it are going to prevent themselves from accepting something new by labeling it as “different” or “other”.
Excise man bun from your vocabulary.
Ditto man purse.
Don’t want to call a moderately sized bag you carry in your hand or on your shoulder a purse? Fine. How about “shoulder bag”? It’s a perfectly good term, gender neutral, and with a long history. And it exactly describes the object in question.
Then there’s man cave. What’s wrong with “basement”? Or “rec room,” “TV room,” or even “game room”? Because, let’s be honest here, calling that room where you go to watch the ballgame a man cave not only does a disservice to all the women who enjoy sports, a game of pool, or a handy supply of beer and life-shortening snack foods, but it also devalues the room itself.
Caves, by and large, are cold and dark. Frequently damp, too. None of which is going to make the man cave sound appealing. You want a word to describe that cozy space where it’s just you, your favorite chair, and the biggest damn TV you can afford? How about “den”?
Now there’s a word with all the right connotations. It hints of the wild, but retains notes of “warm and cozy”. The kind of place you want to bring a few of your best friends to hang out.
Don’t think, by the way, that I’m just ticked off at the male gender here.
I swear I will projectile vomit on the next person who uses the phrase “she shed” in my presence.
If it wasn’t invented by some alliteration-addicted marketing executive, it should have been. Like man cave, it’s needlessly exclusive and designed to sound superficially appealing while actually being dismissive. And, also like man cave, the so-called she shed can easily wear the proud badge of “den” with pride and dignity.
A pox on both houses, man caves and she sheds alike.