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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Problems in Expressive Politics: The Challenge of Pink Deodorant Blocks in Urinals

The other week, I noticed that the janitorial services people had placed little pink triangles in the urinals in my office building's bathrooms.  Hmmm.  Why, I wondered, is it necessary to use this charged symbol of gay oppression (see here for the history) and gay pride to disinfect men's modern day chamber pots?  Surely, in the sport of comparative victimology, Jews would be upset by the use of yellow stars or blue magen davids in such a place.  Was this too hasty a reaction to such a semiotically rich conundrum? 

What if, after all, the people who invented these pink triangle disinfectants had developed their design before the signs became synonomous with Nazi oppression?  What if the company started manufacturing these disinfectant blocks after WWII, but prior to the re-appropriation of the symbol of the pink triangle by gay political groups like ACT-UP/Queer Nation? Or, what if these fierce fighters of germs were created after the pink triangle became, like the rainbow flag, a sign of pride?  Perhaps we would think the creators are expressing solidarity then, rather than scorn, for gay rights.   

It turns out there are abundant suppliers of urinal deodorant blocks, and they come in all shapes and sizes, according to Google.   But for some reason, I can't track down who makes the triangles.  I suppose I could do some investigations at the office building, though that might get awkward.  Perhaps Boston Properties, which runs the joint, has an answer to this.  The kicker: the building next door is the home for the Human Rights Campaign, the pre-eminent gay rights organization.    :)

Posted by Administrators on April 6, 2005 at 12:25 AM in Odd World | Permalink


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Tracked on Apr 6, 2005 9:12:49 PM


Tom, that's a great link. It makes me think also of how Sheriff Arpaio (sp?) in Maricopa County is known for making his detainees wear pink underwear.

Posted by: Dan | Apr 6, 2005 11:15:33 PM

...and the debate moves to the gridiron; sort of.


Posted by: Tom | Apr 6, 2005 8:33:32 PM

I assume this is a joke?
You have a very dry sense of humor.


Posted by: Steve | Apr 6, 2005 2:21:01 PM

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