The owners of newly opened French restaurant Ananas, located in Sydney’s Rocks area, have been forced to remove a pair of urinals shaped like a woman’s mouth by female Dutch artist Meike van Schijndel after complaints from restaurant patrons and Australian feminists.
Boosted by a new wave of feminism evoked by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's now famous misogyny speech, Aussie feminist Anne Summers told AAP that the amenities were “asking men to put their d**ks in these mouths as urinals.”
One can’t help but wonder whether Summers’ reaction to the urinals is justified or whether society at large has become too sensitive. After all, isn’t van Schijndel’s "Kisses!" urinal just another work of art that challenges perceptions of sexuality and gender?
A press release on the Ananas restaurant Facebook page states that “the urinals are a commonly used European design.” The restaurant goes on to explain that “Our female designer saw one in a shopfront in Paris when she was there on an inspiration trip for Ananas and felt it referenced the Rolling Stones logo which is based on Mick Jagger’s lips rather than a woman’s lips. She felt it would be a great way to bring a slice of Paris’s risqué nightlife to Sydney.
The "Kisses!" urinal is manufactured by the innovative design company Bathroom Mania! which was founded by Meike van Schijndel and Brian Golsteijn. Their website claims that "'Kisses!' transforms a daily event into a blushing experience! Works better than aiming at the fly! This is one target men will never miss!"
This is not the first time that van Schijndel’s urinals have caused outrage. In January, Germany’s Rolling Stone Museum was forced to respond to claims that the urinals they had installed in the museum were “demeaning” and “sexist”. Ulli Schroder, the owner of the Museum, refused to remove the urinals stating that ''They were damned expensive and they're staying where they are and that's final.''
In 2004 Virgin Atlantic Airways was forced to scrap plans to install a number of the urinals in their clubhouse at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport after receiving a complaint from the National Organization for Women (NOW).
According to a statement released at the time by NOW President Kim Gandy, "We commend Virgin Atlantic for this decision, as far as it goes. But we note that their statement is limited to New York's JFK airport. We hope that they do not intend to put these degrading fixtures in countries where women are less likely to stand up for themselves."
No-one seems bothered by reports that Khloe Kardashian has one of the mouth-shaped urinals installed in her Tarzana, CA home. Perhaps there hasn’t been the same outcry because people think she wouldn’t know any better. The urinals were reported to have been earmarked for removal, but only because the house was being renovated and they would not complement the new decor.