At first it sounded like a good idea: a dedicated space where a woman could pursue her interests. Kind of like a Man Cave, but with curtains and flowers.
You’d think that as a writer, I’d love a She Shed where I could create and recreate to my heart’s content. Maybe have a friend over for a glass of wine or some tea and cookies. But the more I thought about it, though, the more I kept asking myself: Do I really want a First-World, savings-sucking, sexually segregated hut that smells like mulch and motor oil to pursue my dreams in? I think not. And here’s why.
The She Shed Is Elitist
The only people who can have She Sheds are those who live in suburban or rural areas and own at least a quarter-acre of ground. Just imagine living in a three-room apartment in an urban center and asking the landlord if you can build a She Shed on the roof. It seems to me that the woman in that situation is the one who needs a She Shed the most.
Of course, this is true of the Man Cave as well. Small apartments just don’t have a garage or a spare room to devote to manly pursuits (whatever they may be).
The She Shed Is Expensive
You can certainly build a She Shed from scratch, but even the materials are pricey. The smallest pre-fab DIY shed kit I’ve seen runs over $1000. And that’s without furnishings, paint, amenities, and whatever equipment you need to pursue your hobbies or dreams.
The Man Cave is expensive too, with all those super-sized televisions, kegerators or mini-fridges, billiard tables, recliners, work-out equipment, and possibly power tools.
The She Shed Is Impractical
Many of the articles I’ve seen recommend repurposing an old shed you already have — say, a lawnmower shed — for your dream woman-friendly den. Never mind that most existing sheds either already serve a function (say, lawnmower storage), they are also too small for all the necessities and frills that Pinterest tells us are part of a proper She Shed. A potting shed, maybe — but who has a potting shed that they’re not using for actually potting? Or is that supposed to be the woman’s fun and fulfilling activity? If so, why build another shed for it?
Besides, tool sheds and potting sheds lack many of the necessaries for a properly inviting environment — electricity, say, for the writer’s computer or the reader’s lights, or even running water. Just to go to the bathroom, a woman must leave her She Shed, troop back into the “real” house and avail herself of the plumbing, then reverse the process. Unless, of course, there is another shed-like building outside — the kind with a crescent moon carved on the door.
Man Caves have the advantage here, since they’re usually located in an “unused” room or a garage, which usually have all the modern conveniences built in or within easy reach.
The She Shed Is Sexist
Which bring us to another point. Why should a man get to take over an entire room of a house, while a woman is relegated to an outside structure, which has the feeling of a children’s playhouse (not to say doghouse)? The house is hers too. Doesn’t she have as much right to that den or garage as anyone? A couple could also share that den, spending alternate days in it and leaving it empty one day a week.
Man Caves are sexist too. They imply that women are so awful or annoying that men must have a place where they can be alone or with other men. That a woman, if not forbidden to decorate a room, will fill it up with frou-frou furnishings and paint colors like daquoise and saffron and elderberry. That no woman enjoys sports and beer. That men are such boors that no one but other men can stand to be around them. It insults both sexes, which in its way is quasi-egalitarian, though not desirable.
The She Shed Is Ridiculous
We have a few sheds out by the driveway and around the side of the house. I suppose I could repurpose one of them into a writer’s retreat, except for the no-electricity thing and the trek to the bathroom thing. But these sheds are made by Rubbermaid. They have no windows for darling curtains or even fresh air. A person trapped inside would be overcome by a scent like the sole of a sneaker. Besides, they are full of lawn and gardening supplies, which means that if I took one over, we would need yet another shed. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve reproduced enough.
Besides, “She Shed”? The term is ridiculous. What do you keep in a shed? Gardening supplies. Chainsaws. Lawn tools. Cases of motor oil and washer fluid. Lumber. Chickens. Stuff you don’t know what else to do with.
“Man Cave” isn’t even alliterative like “She Shed.” At least call a woman’s retreat something dignified, like, well, a “Woman’s Retreat.” Personally, I call my study “My Study.” And my husband comes in regularly for conversation or to look up things on the computer. He doesn’t mind my collection of stuffed animals — he bought at least half of them for me. We write his appointments on my whiteboard along with my projects. And there’s a small TV and a sound system, plus iTunes on the computer.
And that’s what we do with our spare room. Make it inviting for both of us.