The pink locker room’s time has passed, Iowa professor says

Is it time to turn the page on the University of Iowa’s infamous pink visitors’ locker room at Kinnick Stadium?

Famed coach Hayden Fry had the locker room painted pink in 1979, and the university added pink urinals in a renovation in 2005.

Around that time, university law professor Erin Buzuvis said, “What you’re saying is, ‘You are weak like a little girl. You are weak like an effeminate man.’ ” She got death threats for that and has since taken a job elsewhere.

Writing in the Des Moines Register today, Kembrew McLeod, another professor at the university, renews the debate.

If UI President Sally Mason is really serious about cultivating a campus environment that will eliminate sexual assaults, then she should end this retrograde football tradition. Every time she cheers on the Hawkeyes from her skybox above the pink locker room, Mason is rubber stamping a hyper-masculine culture that undermines her recent efforts.

What sort of message is my school sending the young men who come to play in Kinnick Stadium? I certainly don’t want my son to aspire to the sort of chest-thumping, name-calling tactics that my employer apparently thinks is perfectly OK. And for those who still insists that it is “simple color psychology” — come on, please, let’s have an honest conversation about this issue.

Does a pink locker room directly lead to violence against women and gay people? Of course not, but it does reinforce the narratives about what it means to be a “real” man that kids are exposed to from a very young age.

This creates a subtle and harmful ripple effect — especially when it’s officially sanctioned by the university.

  • Joe

    I thought it was because pink paint was the cheapest

  • My freshman year of college, I traveled with the Northwestern marching band to Kinnick Stadium for a road game. It was the marching band’s first return trip in more than a decade because the last time our band visited, the Iowa fans threw batteries at the band. Classy institution, that University of Iowa.

    • Joe

      Maybe due to Iowa’s poor infrastructure they had no other way to get rid of their old batteries. After all, they’re reduced to using substandard paint, even when they’re trying to impress guests.

  • Joe

    Women own pink, it’s a basic tenet of American capitalism. No wonder she got death threats!
    Let women collect their rents on pink ownership my fellow males, lest they come and shatter your glass ceilings carefully engineered and constructed by MEN to keep those darn women out of the board room.

  • Jeff C.

    Or is it pink because they want to calm the opposing team down before playing against them?

    “Pink calms and reassures our emotional energies, alleviating
    feelings of anger, aggression, resentment, abandonment and neglect.
    Studies have confirmed that exposure to large
    amounts of pink can have a calming effect on the nerves and create
    physical weakness in people. Violent and aggressive prisoners have been
    successfully calmed by placing them in a pink room for a specified
    amount of time. Exposure for too long can have the opposite effect.”

    • Jeff C.

      Ooops. I should have read the whole article read more closely.

      ‘Fry explained in his memoir that he painted it pink because it “is often
      found in girls’ bedrooms, and because of that some consider it a sissy

    • Joe

      Non-violent, non-aggressive prisoners have been successfully given pink underwerar by jailor Joe Arpaio to make prisoners look dumb or demean them or something, who knows. Maybe the pink dye for the underwear is cheaper…

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    A smarter person than me once said about such protestations: Find something to do.

    • Joe

      The law professor is indeed finding something else to do, because she got death threats to the point where she needed to leave her position at the University for even suggesting that the color of the paint might be offensive. Let’s hope she can find a job, the legal market is tough right now.
      Or did you mean those making death threats over something someone said in a classroom one time need to find something to do?
      Apparently pink paint is worth killing over, maybe those sending death threats need some pink paint to calm them down.

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        Of course I meant she should be subject to death threats. I frequently side with those who make them.

        I also think if you look around the world and see a pink locker room as an issue of critical importance, you can probably apply yourself a little better.

        • Joe

          The professor wasn’t looking around the world, she was talking about an issue on the campus that her law students could connect with as a “teachable moment.” She also made the statement in reaction to an event going on around her, she wasn’t exactly barking at the moon about feminist theory, so it’s hard to say she thought it was of critical importance, she just happened to notice. Yet she still got death threats, which just reinforces her point about intimidation. Kinda funny actually, since the end result was her being intimidated…

  • Jim G

    Pink in a men’s locker room? The occasion should only indicate a remediation class for lapsed laundering skills. Really there’s no reason to denigrate your competition. If your team is only good enough to triumph over a weakened opponent, it doesn’t say much about your program. When I played college football, my opponents were grizzled veterans, men returning from the Vietnam War, whose physical prowess grows with each retelling of a game day remembrance. The way I look at it a win over worthy opposition ennobles the victor.