Lip-Shaped Urinals Cause Uproar at German Rolling Stones Museum

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By M. Johanson | January 31, 2012 5:07 AM EST

Lip-shaped urinals in Germany's Rolling Stones Museum beg the question: Mick Jagger's mouth or female lips? (REUTERS)

The debate rages on in northern Germany about whether lip-shaped urinals at a Rolling Stones museum are misogynistic or simply replicas of Mick Jagger's iconic mouth.

Women's rights campaigners are demanding the removal of the urinals in the men's bathroom of the museum, arguing that they're shaped like female lips and are offensive.

The museum's owner counters that the bowls are hardly offensive and are meant to replicate the Rolling Stones' famous logo, a pair of open red lips created in 1971 by art designer John Pasche and modeled after Mick Jagger's famously rubbery mouth.

Yet, critics like local activist Roda Armbruster say the urinals offer a misogynistic message. She wants them removed immediately.

"That's discrimination against women," she told regional broadcaster NDR. "Why does it have to be a woman's mouth? If it had been based on the emblem of the stones with the tongue, it would have been okay. But the tongue's been left out and they really look like women's mouths."

Town administrators in the northern German town of Lüchow, where the museum is located, say nearly a dozen women have complained about the urinals.

The museum was opened last October by a retired banker, Ulli Schroder, who has collected Stones memorabilia for decades. He was quoted as saying: "That's not a man's mouth or a woman's mouth, that's art."

"They were damned expensive and they're staying where they are," he added. "That's final."

Lüchow's mayor agreed that you "can't argue about personal taste," saying that everyone is entitled to draw their own conclusions.

Designed by Dutch artist Meike van Schijndel -- a female -- the lip-shaped urinal is marketed as "Kisses! Urinal."

"'Kisses!' transforms a daily event into a blushing experience," van Schijndel boasts on her Bathroom Mania Web site. "[It] works better than aiming at the fly! This is one target men will never miss!"

Van Schijndel envisions herself as a revolutionary designer in an underappreciated market.

"I want to introduce a new world into what has been for ages the hardly unchanged and standardized bathroom," she says of her unique designs. "To be able to totally retreat from the hectic everyday life, the bathroom should be an inspiration for your fantasy!"

Male or female, art or provocation, for now, the urinals remain at the museum.

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