Legendary former Hawkeye football coach Hayden Fry got a degree in psychology, learning, among other things, that the color pink can bring about a passive, calming mood in people. So, several decades ago, he had the visiting locker room at Kinnick Stadium painted pink — to create what he believed was a psychological advantage over visiting opponents. And, to at least some degree, it worked in getting their minds off the game. For instance, the late and legendary Michigan football coach, Bo Schembechler, would send team managers over to the stadium the night before Michigan/Iowa games at Kinnick to cover the pink walls with white paper. In other words, it got under his skin and distracted him in at least a small way — and he was concerned it would distract his players, too.
When the Kinnick Stadium Locker rooms were renovated a few years back, partially (I imagine) in honor of Coach Fry, and partially in agreement with his psychological gamesmanship, they not only painted the visiting locker room pink, but installed pink urinals and stools, as well. Likely the only visiting locker room like it in the entire country.
Then comes along former U of I faculty member, Jill Gaulding, and her law partner Lisa Stratton…30+ years after the pink locker rooms were introduced. At the Governor’s Conference for Lesbian, Homosexual, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth in Des Moines, they suggested that the University of Iowa be sued for gender discrimination. They accused the visitors locker room at Kinnick of being another example of “pink shaming.” Yes, pink shaming.
A handout from their workshop reads, “Most people understand the pink locker room as a taunt against the other team, calling them a bunch of ladies/girls/sissies/pansies/etc.”
Based on Title IX which prevents gender discrimination at universities, they think someone might have a case against the U of I, writing, “[T]hey could be exposed to a declaratory judgment action where someone would just seek to settle the question legally and have a judge decide once and for all is this OK or not.”
This is one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard of. This professor/lawyer and her law partner are out to lunch, in my humble opinion.
Granted, based on Iowa’s home record last year (2-5), and based on the Purdue player’s suggestion (in the linked video) that it just incites opponents to play harder rather than calms them or makes them passive, maybe the whole pink locker room thing doesn’t work. But that’s not the point.
Please tell me we haven’t become this over-sensitive as a culture or that we’re not going to start getting courts involved in what colors the walls can or cannot be painted.
The fact that someone felt confident enough to say these things out loud into a microphone during a conference workshop does not bode well for our culture’s or our nation’s future.
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