An Australian IKEA store recently offered bored husbands a furniture shopping alternative. Manland was created as a wife-free, kid-free zone with foosball tables, Xbox consoles, free hot dogs, a pinball machine and flat screen televisions that played nothing but sports. Wives were given a 30 minute buzzer to remind them to come pick up their husbands (the same given to parents who use the in-store child care, Smaland). The four-day experiment coincided with Father’s Day but it makes me wonder: should IKEA Frisco experiment with the same concept? I’m not so sure. You see, I went to IKEA Frisco this weekend at my husband’s request. HE, not me, wanted a new dresser. And I saw plenty of husbands, boyfriends, dads etc. strolling the aisles. Bored? Maybe. But many more were looking at prices, measuring, determining if the couch was soft enough, if a table would or wouldn’t work in their home, garage, daughter’s dorm room, new baby room. They sneered at their wives’ suggestions and pointed to alternatives: this table not that thing! And plenty of hetero males pushed carts between the big bins in the inventory section hauling box after box off shelves. One dad used a cart as a skateboard while his son rode with him.
Isn’t furniture shopping very much a “we” activity anyway? I mean, we aren’t talking about shopping for maternity clothes. They have a man center at Pea in a Pod (I left my husband there while I tried on outfits, but he strayed away and picked up an overpriced onesie!) No, says Irin Carmon at Jezebel.com, “It’s another thing to blithely accept that male partners have no role in home shopping, where they presumably live too.” And assuming women live and breathe for to furniture shop just like we love to go grocery shopping with the kids, too. Adds Carmon, “Some men may prefer playing video games to buying a couch or cleaning the kitchen, but women probably would rather do a lot of other things too.”
She’s right! I’d love a womanland at the hardware store or Lowes or Home Depot or Fry’s electronics. They should play nothing but Lifetime movies, offer backrubs and trays of chocolates and we women could just sit around and talk about our period. Instead of buzzers, our husbands could make us wear anklets that zapped us if we strayed too far out of the estrogen area. Sound pretty silly when you think about it. And pretty darn sexist.
Sometimes I want to go to Home Depot and Lowes (never Fry’s!) And sometimes men want to go to IKEA. Not all husbands are whiners (especially when they smell the cinnamon rolls) and not every couple is hetero. Manland certainly sets a very blue and pink standard: boys this way, girls this way. The thing I enjoy most about IKEA is getting my husband’s input. Sure I end up with what I want anyway, but I don’t have to listen to him complain after the fact if he’s there with me to pick furniture out (and assemble it with nothing but an allen wrench and directions in Swedish later!)
Keep it mixed, Frisco. And husbands, remember, part of a relationship is doing couple activities. You do need a new couch. And you can have a hot dog if you don’t complain the whole time! Who’s a good husband? That’s my man. What a good husband!