Is It Sexist To Use A Rolling Stones Urinal?

'Kisses' by

In Berlin, a new museum is opening which is devoted to the Rolling Stones. It’s full of old souvenirs from their 50 year career, collected and curated by fans. A delightful cultural asset to any city, I trust you’ll agree.

But, should you gentlemen find yourselves needing to answer a call of nature while visiting, you’ll be confronted by some distinctive urinals, which are based on the classic Stones logo – a very red caricature of Mick Jagger’s mouth with his tongue out – as designed by John Pasche in the early ’70s.

What makes this situation slightly gross (in more than one way) is that the urinals, which were designed by Meike van Schijndel, are called ‘Kisses,’ have already caused a certain amount of controversy, after they were installed in JFK airport, back in 2004. The problem is, even when presented in the middle of a Rolling Stones museum, once you take that tongue out (to prevent splashbacks, presumably) it becomes, at best, a very girly version of Mick Jagger’s mouth. And at worst, it’s just a girl’s mouth.

And this has outraged local feminist campaigners, such as Roda Armbruster, who told the LA Times: “If the urinals sported a tongue, it would have been acceptable because the identification with the band and Jagger would have been unmistakable. Without it, it’s a woman’s mouth, not a man’s mouth.”

Ulrich Schroeder, founder of the museaum, is having none of it, telling the German paper Die Welt “it’s art. It’s staying.”

So, the question is, who’s in the right? If these urinals are in the men’s room of a Rolling Stones museum, and based on the Rolling Stones logo, which is itself based on a very specific man’s mouth, are they still sexist?

And more to the point, aren’t they just very, very weird urinals?

Thoughts please!

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser is a British writer, broadcaster and the the author of the book Stuff Brits Like. He is Anglophenia's resident Brit blogger, having written BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog, the Top of the Pops website, and for NME, the Guardian and elsewhere. Favorite topics include slang, Doctor Who and cramming as much music into Anglophenia as he can manage. He invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic
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