Ikea Presents…Manland?

by | October 12, 2011
filed under Feminism

by E. Cain

Think of it as a play land for grown men, a daddy daycare if you will. It’s much like Småland, IKEA’s play area for children (and with the same thirty minute time limit!), only different toys: video games and foosball tables.

Manland started making headlines after it was temporarily installed at an IKEA store in suburban Sydney, Australia for Father’s Day last month. I also hear there’s a permanent manland located at the IKEA store in Tampere, Finland.

According to Ikea’s German Chief, bringing one’s partner along is part of the IKEA experience and can sometimes lead to tension. In 2008, she reported that while women make up 70 percent of the chain’s customer base, their male partners often accompany them to approve bigger purchases. However, she also pointed out that if the woman is against buying something, then nothing gets done.

So here we have the justification for Manland: keep the men occupied while their female partners shop. But so much is ignored with this initiative.

First, there is no acknowledgement that most women might rather be doing other things than shopping at IKEA – just like male partners might. Creating manland is a blow to those who, like myself, continue to hope that we will see an end to the arbitrary division between the public/private spheres, and witness increasing numbers of men stepping up and doing their fair share of the work in the home – including shopping.

To quote Katrina Onstad in her newspaper article “Why IKEA’s ‘Manland’ is Swedish for emasculated baby-men” (not surprisingly located in the Style section):

“Manland is a country populated by the lowest form of manhood: the whiner who cant even put aside his own (adolescent) proclivities for an hour to help his wife carry a Shrompfken-one that he’s probably going to enjoy sleeping on himself.”

Also, what about gay couples? If both men are hanging out in manland, who’s going to do the shopping?

IKEA, it’s time to go back to the drawing board on this one. There are alternative ways to minimize spousal blowouts while shopping. As Onstad writes, one is for couples to “come up with two separate lists and divide and conquer.” Another on my wish list is tutorials on how to assemble furniture – at least this would be useful. And, IKEA’s German Chief reports that men tend to need more assistance when it comes to putting together flat-pack furniture.

Something to do with failing to read the instructions…

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