WTF Files: IKEA's M

Hey men! You know what's worse than a trip to IKEA with your wife or girlfriend? NOTHING. Because the torture of walking up and down the aisles of the Swedish housewares store is apparently nigh unbearable for men (seriously, picking out throw pillows is SO HARD), an IKEA in Australia has come up with an infantilizing solution: MÄNLAND, a daycare for dudes.

What's the IKEA word for barfing in your mouth? BARFKLINGSTÄÄD?

Like the SMALAND daycares present in all IKEA retailers, MÄNLAND offers entertainment for those unable or unwilling to handle a 30-minute shopping trip. Unlike SMALAND, MÄNLAND is for grown-ass adults. Now, I understand that IKEA can be a daunting place (though not as confusing as the above video would have us believe—I for one have never been hypnotized by the textiles there), but to imply that men either cannot or should not be expected to participate in a shopping trip there is ludicrous. All this "daycare" accomplishes (beyond publicity) is to reinforce the notion that men are basically children who can't accomplish simple household tasks like buying pots and pans.

The reminder buzzer that sounds after 30 minutes takes this idea to the next level by suggesting that women—only heterosexual couples are considered here—won't even remember that they brought their "partners" (you know, the guys who are watching "footy" instead of sharing in household chores) with them in the first place. That's how useless husbands are, amirite ladeez?

The man-holding-a-purse-while-his-wife-shops image is nothing new, and it makes sense that some men might not want to shop with their female partners for ladythings like bras or dresses (same goes for women and dudethings like boxer shorts or nose hair trimmers). However, IKEA is a gender-neutral store filled with items like bookshelves and couches—why can't a man shop there? And aren't we to assume that he and his wife live together and therefore will both want to use that futuristic-looking plastic bag holder? Is a trip to IKEA really just TOO MUCH for men? (No, it isn't.)

On the flip side of this MÄNLAND coin, why aren't women allowed? If IKEA is so taxing a place to be in, shouldn't both men and women be able to take a shopping break with a video game and a free hot dog? Maybe even *GASP* together?

by Kelsey Wallace
View profile »

Still Reading? Sign up for our Weekly Reader!

16 Comments Have Been Posted

Your review is spot-on! I

Your review is spot-on! I mean I get that the whole thing's tongue-in-cheek, but I'm still kind of puzzled as to how IKEA is trying to target a straight male demographic by insulting them and insinuating that they're like babies, or that their manliness is so fragile that it's threatened by a shopping trip. The idea itself sounds fun, I mean I personally get bored shopping for more than half an hour, so if I had a partner who wanted to wander around IKEA for hours on end I'd probably want to chillax in front of a tv and eat hot dogs while waiting for her (though I certainly wouldn't' want to be compared to a child). Then again, I'm not the target demographic for ManLand because I'm a girl, so I don't view shopping as a frivolous activity that is beneath me. Why not just call it a "FunCave" or something and de-genderize it, I think that'd make it more appealing to a wider audience. Also seriously, if your marriage can be jeapordized by a freaking shopping trip you've got bigger problems that cannot be solved by the ManLand.

Herein lies the massive

Herein lies the massive cultural differences between the US and Australia.

While I happen to sport both testes AND a certain level of enjoyment in perusing the Labyrinth that is my local IKEA, I can respect that for some people it's akin to knee surgery. ANY amount of time spent in knee surgery is too much time. That they felt the need to make it gender specific is indeed patronizing to me as an American man, but this is where the Aussies get their due.

They have a rough n' ready sense of humor regarding gender politics that seems to transcend the practical issues of equality. There is a certain embrace of being a "Manly Man" in Australia that is both disconcerting and kind of charming. The guys are encouraged to "be guys" (whatever the hell that means) but there is also an unspoken understanding that it doesn't give guys permission to act in a derogatory manner.

I would imagine that if a woman decided she wanted to go have a sit and watch some Aussie rules over a hot dog, no one would mind or even notice. That it is called a "Manland" is just their peculiar sense of humor and tacit admission that their culture is a little absurd about gender roles.

Um, my husband would love

Um, my husband would love this.

"but to imply that men either cannot or should not be expected to participate in a shopping trip there is ludicrous."

And some men don't want to, and there's nothing wrong with that. Some men find furniture shopping boring, and would rather be doing something else. In a similar vein, I would love it if car repair shops, Pep boys, or other things my husband loves doing but i hate doing would provide something like this. I hate anything to do with cars and i know I'm not the only woman.

"is to reinforce the notion that men are basically children who can't accomplish simple household tasks like buying pots and pans."

Or say to men who hate furniture shopping: "hey, here's something to do while your wife/girlfriend/mom/sister/boyfriend/husband/partner shops." Because honestly, when my husband and I go to IKEA and he's glued to his smart phone, that pisses me off.

They're not saying a man can't shop there or isn't invited, they're acknowledging that some men don't like furniture shopping.

But do you want Pep Boys to

Not necessarily. My husband

Not necessarily. My husband happens to love IKEA too. But he would love to have a place like this when we go shopping. And yes, I would love an area at a place I hate going (like Lowe's or the Home Depot) with magazines and comfy chairs where I could sit and relax while my husband does shit I hate doing and shit I have zero interest in doing. They're not saying that every man should want to go to MANLAND, they're saying that it's there for men who just don't like going furniture shopping. Likewise, a place at Lowe's or Home Depot would be for women who don't like going there but are dragged by their eager husbands like mine. I don't think it would be patronizing at all. Or at least, I wouldn't feel patronized.

I understand that this blog and magazine's purpose is to analyze pop culture and things like this and everyone is entitled to their own analysis and opinion, but I think that the argument that an area like this is infantilizing to men is a bit, well, a bit much. I think that in cases like this, we should let men do the verbalizing on how they feel about it, instead of us saying how they should feel about it.

FTR, I asked my husband how he would feel about a place like this, and if he would feel how the author outlined in the original posting, and he said that in no way would he feel that way at all.

Yeah, ok... but

Gymboree No. 1

Whooops, beaten below (if I

Whooops, beaten below (if I only had a brain)!

It's Småland, not Smaland,

It's Småland, not Smaland, and Mänland should probably be Manland.

Yes, I'm Swedish, and yes, I get annoyed when people think randomly using å ä or ö makes something look Swedish. >.<

BARFKLINGSTÄÄD...? What? Ikea word? What is an "Ikea word"...?


Thanks, Northern Lights! On my American keyboard I couldn't get the symbol over the a in Småland to come through in caps (which, according to the IKEA website, is how it should be written) so I opted for the all-caps instead of the correct spelling.

As far as MÄNLAND goes, I got the story from, which lists the name as such: It originated in Australia, so I wouldn't be surprised if the Swedish is incorrect.

An "IKEA word" is a word that IKEA would use for one of their products (e.g., the EKBY JÄRPEN/ EKBY BJÄRNUM wall shelf). I meant it as a joke, though perhaps a bad one.

I'm just cranky and old;

I'm just cranky and old; having seen far too many random diacritics used to make stuff look Nordic (Häagen Dazs???).

And oh, all Ikea products have actual Swedish names. Though often they don't make sense... At all.

American keyboard?

Does it have passport ;-?
My computer, purchased in the USA, makes å and Å -- you just have to change the language of the keyboard and figure out which keys to strike (in this case the "open bracket" key). There are also acceptable ways to type most Scandanavian letters w/o fancy fonts - I believe "aa" (as in Smaaland) is acceptable for å, but you might want to check w/ Northern Lights!

The whole "men must be saved

The whole "men must be saved from women shopping" meme is kind of hilariously irritating to me, since when I was with my ex it was usually him who wanted to wander around in stores for hours looking at random things. I'm a get in (knowing exactly what I'll be buying before you get there)-pay-leave kind of person (as well as the "bring a book in case the shopping trip gets too boring" type). The only place this doesn't apply is at bookstores. Yet women are the one who get pigeonholed as obsessed with shopping.

I really did try... be bothered by this. The article was quite well written and made lots of excellent points about why this should trouble my feminist sensibilities.
But mostly....I just think it's a really funny, clever idea. And it made me laugh.

*ducks incoming projectiles*

I'm with you. I know when I

I'm with you. I know when I go shopping, I HATE HATE HATE having my husband with me. He just ends up annoying me, and follows me. like, as in, followsmethiscloseineverystore. When I'm looking at something in a store, he's always right behind me, and when I turn around, i bump into him and then he won't move. And then complains that he's bored.

So if every department store could please have a place where he could go and not be bored and not piss me off, I would be ecstatic.

I'm with you, when you say

I'm with you, when you say that you "tried" to be bothered by the idea. I did find the connotations offensive, but in the end, I guess it was just poor taste, and a name that is more gender neutral would have been a bit less condescending. I don't like that they designated the area specifically for men, sort of reinforcing the stereotype that while all women get lost in hours of "oohing and aaahing" over every stemmed wineglass and exotic textile, men are bored out of their minds. My boyfriend personally loves to go to Bed Bath & Beyond, and frequently does more "oohing and aahhing" than I do, and I applaud that. I wonder if he would be less likely to walk around an Ikea with me, if he was offered the Man Land. Not because he would prefer that to shopping, but because of the stares he may get from others for not conforming to this imposed stereotype. Would he be looked down upon for participating in the shopping with me? Likewise I would be offended if I went to a car dealership or mechanic and was offered a "Womanland" stocked with gossip magaizines and knitting needles.

If men hate shopping so much...

If a person, regardless of gender, hates furniture shopping, why not just stay home? I'm not a fan of auto parts stores, so if my partner wanted to go to one and spend a long time wandering around, I'd probably skip that trip (though I do love hardware stores). I never understand this kind of thing. I certainly wouldn't make my partner come with me to IKEA or Target or the underwear store or wherever if he didn't want to.

Because sometimes you're out

Because sometimes you're out running errands together and say "Hey, we need to go to IKEA" or "Hey, there's a Home Depot, I need to stop there and get something." Not every shopping trip is planned.

can I have one too?

Ok but...if my (straight, male, civilly-unioned) partner could drop me off in a situation like that in one of our interminable trips to Ikea I (queer, female, civilly-unioned, currently pregnant & always cranky about shopping) would be BEYOND thrilled. The concept is lovely. The gendering of said concept is nauseating.

Add new comment