Pink and Sexism

University of Iowa pink locker room

The visiting team locker room at the University of Iowa is painted pink. Hayden Fry, the oft-revered Hawkeye football coach, had the locker room painted pink as a “psychological strategy.” A former University of Iowa law professor plans on filing a complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

“I don’t think this is about Hayden Fry or his intention in the 1980s; I think this is about how people understand the locker room in 2007,” said Gaulding, who has since left Iowa and now practices employment discrimination law in Minnesota. “This [is] understood as a funny version of the slur that goes on in athletics about playing like a girl, playing like a sissy” — and worse, she said, the university has perpetuated the insult in “a very official, permanent way.”

“It’s based on a concept of gender hierarchy that says not only are boys and girls different, but more important it’s better to be a boy than a girl; it’s shameful to be a girl,” said Gaulding, who is researching a book on cognitive bias and gender discrimination. “Anyone who’s not deeply in denial understands and acknowledges that the pink locker room taps into this very long tradition of using gender as a put-down.”

via Inside Higher Education.

The sexism within the comments on this article at Inside Higher Education are nauseating. I hope Gaulding is successful with her complaint.

  • I posted on the Inside Higher Ed story here…

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  • FinanceBuzz

    *sigh* Another uptight person trying to attack otherwise harmless tradition. This is not hurting this person one bit. I doubt women even use this locker regularly (though it is possible for other non-football sporting events in the stadium). I think she is attacking a beloved institution (college football) to pursue her political point.

  • McClanahan

    As I live half an hour from Iowa City and the infamous pink locker room in Kinnick Stadium, I’ve have the unfortunate privilege to watch Gaulding on the local news ranting about the color pink and the effeminate connotations it draws. She has since moved on to another job – which was probably a wise decision as she was meddling with a long standing football tradition. I’m here to tell you that the lady just doesn’t get college football or the whole aura about it.

    I had a college professor in 1996 who used to give out tests on pink paper because she said it was supposed to have a calming and relaxing effect on the test taker. Someone in the class made the pink locker room analogy.

    Hayden Fry painted the visitor’s locker room pink back in 1979 or 1980 to have a calming effect on the opposing team. I’ve read that several coaches in the Big Ten put up butcher’s paper on the walls when they come to Iowa.

    After Gaulding appeared on the news in Iowa City, I witnessed a major influx of pink men’s shirts popping up everywhere in southeast Iowa, including schools and football games. Many of the shirts read “Iowa Locker Room” or “Real Men Wear Pink”.

    I think that Gaulding should stop trying to read too much into something that wasn’t there to begin with. I’m all for taking a stand and protesting in what you believe, but what is this all about? I would say stop trying to psycho-analyze everything and use a little common sense.


  • Maddy

    As an artist, pink does tend to be a more emotionally relaxing color with it’s light green complimentary. However, I’m speaking of a calm pastel pink painted room rather than your hot pink razor phone or that purse that you have to torment my eyes with. If you look at skin color, (white, black, and in between) you see pink everywhere. However, I hope they’d paint the boys locker room pink because I des[pise the color pink when it’s pushed in the media sayign that we all must love pink.

  • Blake

    I believe this qualifies as someone with WAAAAAAY too much time on their hands. There must certainly be bigger issues at hand regarding Title IX qualifying offenses. Or this person may have some personal vendetta against U of Iowa as she used to work there….

    Can we tackle some bigger issues?

  • Ben

    Jill has always ignored the facts of this matter and has gone marching on to the beat of her own drummer. She purposefully misrepresents facts, uses generalized opinions and very fuzzy logic to get her conclusions. There is a very good reason the University of Iowa will not talk to her about this issue again- she refuses to listen!

    Hayden Fry broke the color barrier in Texas. He later fully supported Title IX during its birth (a rare thing for a male coach/A.D. to do). Yet she doesn’t think twice before accusing him of sexist and homophobic slander. Real nice, Jill. You’re a piece of work.

    To the outside, yes the “girl’s room” jokes probably fly. But I worked for the Athletic Department at Iowa, and the pink locker room is taken very, very seriously here. It’s not a “joke”, as she puts it. It’s a beloved tradition that has never meant to poke fun at anyone. It’s always been about gaining an edge on the other team- something Iowa needed anyway they could get it when Fry first got here. Proof the pink locker room worked- Iowa upset two straight ranked opponets (Nebraska and UCLA) after painting the visitor’s room pink and went on to play in the 1982 Rose Bowl, Iowa’s first since the ’50s.

    The pink isn’t going anywhere. It’s special to the people of Iowa. Something Jill just can’t understand…

  • Ben, I think you get at the issue even though you may not intend to.

    You said the pink locker room has “always been about gaining an edge on the other team.”

    Why does painting the locker room pink give the team an advantage?

    Answer that question, and you’ve gone a long way to understanding why Gaulding is acting.