Given past controversies involving urinals in the shape of lipsticked, arguably female mouths, a restaurant in Sydney shouldn’t have been surprised when its bathroom fixtures kicked up a certain amount of angst on the part of Aussie feminists.
Anne Summers, an Australian feminist, said the toilets were “asking men to put their dicks in these mouths as urinals.” She also accused the Ananas Bar and Brasserie of perpetuating misogyny.
Ananas, a new French restaurant in the city’s upscale Rocks district, said the bright, kitschy urinals were “a commonly used European design piece,” according to the AFP. However, the restaurants agreed to remove the offending pieces and issued an apology.
“We sincerely [apologize] if they have caused [offense]. They are being removed today,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.
According to the Telegraph, Meredith Burgmann, another Australian feminist, referred to the urinals as “schoolboy grubbiness,” but added their appearance at the restaurant was not surprising given the country’s “outpouring of misogynist incidents.”
Designed by Meike van Schijndel, of the firm “Bathroom Mania,” similarly mouthy urinals have appeared all over the world, including in a German Rolling Stones museum and the house of reality star Khloe Kardashian, according to TMZ.
The urinals’ popularity seems to be a double-edged sword for designers willing to brave the possible backlash. The pieces have certainly been met with their fair share of criticism ever since Virgin Airlines decided to pull the plug on plans to install the pieces in its JFK Airport clubhouse in 2004.
The Dutch artist has said the design is not supposed to be sexualized. “Lighten up,” she told the New York Daily News in an email. “[It's] just a cartoonish looking mouth. There are worse things in the world to get all worked up about.”
New York’s chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) disagreed.
“There’s something wrong with someone who thinks that urinating symbolically into the mouth of a woman is quirky and fun,” NOW president Rita Haley said during a 2004 press conference. “It displays a horrendous lack of social consciousness,” she said, according to the Daily News.