Saturday, August 30, 2014

Robots Protest Fryfest Over Pink Locker Rooms

Roughly 25 robotic activists protested Fryfest yesterday, an event honoring former University of Iowa football coach Hayden Fry. This "Million Robot March Against Pink Locker Rooms" was organized by the RoboProfessor and his human counterpart, UI Professor/frequent prankster Kembrew McLeod. The RoboProfessor and his robotic counterparts were protesting the UI's pink-colored visitor's locker room:
McLeod is calling for the school to ditch the pink, which he says amounts to a school-sanctioned taunt that exudes homophobia and sexism. He said previous protests haven't been successful, so he's taken an absurd approach to draw attention to the issue.
Hayden Fry had the walls within the visitor's locker room painted pink back in 1979. The University of Iowa has continued this tradition over the years despite periodic public objections. Back in 2005, the UI stepped up the pink coloring in the visitor's locker room, adding "pink across brick walls and shower floors and (installing) pink metal lockers, carpeting, sinks, showers and urinals."

Fry and his supporters always claimed that they used pink coloring to subconsciously calm and pacify their football opponents. And there appears to be some data that backs that suggestion up... to a point:
While pink's calming effect has been demonstrated, researchers of color psychology have found that this effect only occurs during the initial exposure to the color. When used in prisons, inmates often become even more agitated once they become accustomed to the color.
The robot protest appears to have met its goal. It attracted a lot of attention and encouraged people to rethink the purpose and the need for the UI's pink locker room:
About 25 protestors turned out for the march, many of whom, like McCleod, came costumed as robots. Security at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center wouldn’t allow the protestors to march through the building to the convention hall, as planned, so the robots made a quick march around the exterior of the hotel, drawing more than a few sideways looks, along with “we like pink” chants from some fans.

“It was fun, and it was nice that no one tried to beat us up,” joked McLeod, who has donned a robot costume to heckle Bill Clinton and Michele Bachmann in Iowa City in past years. “The worst thing that was said was when someone called us weirdos, which I think is a perhaps a fair assessment. People were in good spirits.”

The protestors called on the university to change the color of the locker room, which McLeod says smacks of a juvenile taunt in the vein of calling a person a “homo” or “sissy.” McLeod has said that the lock room, which UI renovated in 2005 with new pink finishes, is “rooted in an antiquated age when homophobic and sexist epithets were the norm in sports.”
As noted above, the RoboProfessor made his last appearance here in Iowa City back in 2011 when he protested Rep. Michele Bachmann over her anti-gay policy positions.

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