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Where Men Hide

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Where Men Hide, 9780231137348 (0231137346), Columbia University Press, 2006
"If you ask men if they spend any time hiding, they usually look at you as if you're nuts. 'What, me hide?' But if you ask women whether men hide, they immediately know what you mean." -- from Where Men Hide

Where Men Hide is a spirited tour of the dark and often dirty places men go to find comfort, camaraderie, relaxation, and escape. Ken Ross's striking photographs and James Twitchell's lively analysis trace the evolution of these virtual caves, and question why they are rapidly disappearing.

Ross documents both traditional and contemporary male haunts, such as bars, barbershops, lodges, pool halls, strip clubs, garages, deer camps, megachurches, the basement Barcalounger, and Twitchell examines their provenance, purpose, and appeal. He finds that for centuries men have met with each other in underground lairs and clubhouses to conduct business or, in the case of strip clubs and the modern rec room, to bond and indulge in shady entertainments. In these secret dens, certain rules are abandoned while others are obeyed. However, Twitchell sees this less as exclusionary behavior and more as the result of social anxiety: when women want to get together, they just do it; when men get together, it's a production.

Drawing on literary, historical, and pop cultural sources, Twitchell connects the places men hide with figures like Hemingway and Huck Finn, Frederick Jackson Turner's theory of the American frontier, and the mythological interpretations of Joseph Campbell and Robert Bly. Instead of blaming the disappearance of the man-cave solely on feminism, simple fair play, or the demands of Title IX, Twitchell believes this evaporation is due as well to the rise of solitary pursuits such as driving, watching television, and playing videogames.

By blending together anecdote, research, and keen observation, Ross and Twitchell bring this little-discussed and controversial phenomenon to light.

About the Author

James B. Twitchell is professor of English and advertising at the University of Florida and author of many books, including Adcult USA and Lead Us Into Temptation. He is also the author of 20 Ads That Shook the World, For Shame, and Branded Nation.

Ken Ross has been a fine art photographer and educator for over thirty years. His photography has been displayed in numerous exhibits and featured in the New York Times and Esquire magazine. He has been awarded a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Grant and a New Jersey Artist Fellowship for the photographs seen in Where Men Hide.

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