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​Faith Salie: A shed of one's own

Every so often, everyone feels the need to escape at least a little from the everyday -- and that definitely includes our contributor Faith Salie:

Have you ever dreamt of a temporary retreat from your loved ones, to a cozy place where you could count your blessings, and not have to listen to the dulcet din of your spouse reminding you that ceramic knives do NOT belong in the dishwasher, and your kids fighting about who has the stinkiest feet?

It sounds like you need a man cave. But what if you're not a man?

Never fear, the "she shed" is here!

Women all over this great land are creating spaces just for themselves, most often out of sheds in their backyards. They're fantasy cottages, bespoke bungalows, "mama maisons," if you will, for mothers and wives who need a sanctuary -- a haven where they can do anything, or nothing.

A place to practice yoga, or practice "drinking wine in yoga pants." At least one woman says it's saved her marriage.

I have a she shed. This is not an easy thing to achieve, since I live in Manhattan and have no backyard. The four of us (plus my husband's dog) share a two-bedroom apartment. Our daughter naps in a Pack & Play in the middle of our "master" bedroom, which is not big enough to have a middle. I'm writing a book, and there's not even space for a desk in our home. So I spent my hard-earned book money and rented the small apartment downstairs from us.

There is some history to this trend. Personally, I was inspired by Virginia Woolf, who declared that, in order to write, a woman must have a room of her own. I was less inspired by Marie Antoinette, who escaped her palace by ordering an entire hamlet to be built where she could dress as a peasant and practice milking cows.

Modern ladies have more to do than to "eat cake." Marie Antoinette played milkmaid out of ennui; today's women need a break from all the roles they play.

It's telling that, even in my office-refuge, there are toys everywhere, since my kids appropriate the space when I'm not working-hiding there.

I like the connotation of a "shed." Whereas "man cave" suggests something Neanderthal, where a guy goes to reclaim his masculinity (as if he's been tamed), "shed" suggests a woman's shedding of burdensome trappings and expectations. A she-shed sheds light on the fact that even a woman -- especially a woman -- longs to escape the domestic sphere over which she historically supposedly reigns.

"Man cave" seems retrograde, but "she shed" seems progressive. Or maybe it's just a place for me to eat embarrassing amounts of chocolate in private. Mmmmmm!

More from Faith Salie:

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