The "sissy" in pink

BY Neal Broverman

October 24 2005 12:00 AM ET

Can the mere
presence of the color pink be considered homophobic? After
officials at the University of Iowa upheld a long tradition
recently by redecorating a visitors’ locker
room at Kinnick Stadium with the traditionally
feminine color, visiting law professor Erin Buzuvis accused
the school of perpetuating negative stereotypes. Other
professors and students then demanded the color be
changed. “It’s equivalent to painting
the word ‘sissy’ or ‘girlie man’
all across the walls,” Buzuvis said.

The original
perpetrator of the pink was legendary former University of
Iowa football coach Hayden Fry. Hired in 1979, he saw pink
walls as a way to pacify opposing teams. During a
renovation over the summer, school officials decided
to also make the lockers, carpeting, sinks, urinals,
walls, and showers pink. When Buzuvis complained, some
supporters of Fry’s legacy were so angry, they
threatened her with rape and even death. University
president David Skorton and other school officials condemned
the threats but said they have no immediate plans to redo
the locker room.

Riki Wilchins,
executive director for the Gender Public Advocacy
Coalition, was surprised by the locker room brouhaha.
“LGBT and straight kids are dying, being
bullied, and killed because they don’t [portray]
the ideal of a ‘real’ man or woman. We
don’t need to worry about a locker room
color,” she said, noting that before the turn of the
last century “pink was considered a
boy’s color.”

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