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.