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Tethered Men Report

To see the Feminist Geographer's Tethered Men poster click here.

To see the poster in the Open Council Residents Exhibition click here.

Kate Maclean is our Feminist Geographer.  She is interested in spaces, places and all the fascinating and exciting gender dynamics that are oversimplified by the terms ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’.

Her first project for the open council was to go out and see how Newcastle is gendered. 

The phenomenon of the tethered man indicates other gendered dynamics, or power-plays, taking place outside the lingerie shop.  If they’re just going to wait outside the shop, why did they come out in the first place?  Because their girlfriends made them.  They had to go together.  And, as is clearly visible from the expression on this man’s face, he is missing the football:
The congregation of tethered men just outside shops is the public face of man’s disempowerment in the shopping experience.  However, they are fighting back.  This masculine space is there to be capitalised upon – and one entrepreneur knew just how to do it.  Lots of men congregating alone, idle, nothing to look at.  It’s the perfect time and place to sell them a paint ball outing:

The lingerie shop – with the frills, the satin, the sizes etc- is a place where men feel uncomfortable because they’re men.  There are too many opportunities to accidentally say something indelicate or just show complete ignorance of the factors involved in underwear buying.  And of course they don’t know where to look.  So for many men it is better for them and their shopping companions if they just wait outside – like tethering a horse.

There are lots of reasons why spaces and places are gendered, and it’s not always to do with men or women being banned from entering (although that does of course happen) or clubs being exclusively for one gender (eg the brownies).  What creates a gendered space is the social dynamics involved in how people behave and communicate in certain places.   In Newcastle, the Open Council’s FG started off with the quintessentially gendered space – the lingerie shop.  But rather than focus on what was going in the shop itself, she decided to explore the much less observed area just outside:  the six foot wide strip of pavement that is the home of the ‘tethered man’.