A controversial portable urinal for men, in the shape of a naked woman in an explicit sexual position, continues to spark debate in parliament two months after public criticism.
The “Body Jane Men’s Jar” was launched by Hacienda Entertainment, a small business registered in Cyprus, with funding and support from the European Union and the Republic of Cyprus.
The bedside urinal is being promoted as a product for male patients who need to use a urinal or cannot walk to the bathroom as well as a piece of artwork according to the private company headquartered in Nicosia.
But critics say the urinal is an insult to women and a blow to the struggle for gender equality, as it perpetuates sexual stereotypes according to Gender Equality Commissioner Iosifina Antoniou.
Administrators initially refused to give the names of the individuals who approved state funding for the controversial product
“We believe this product is a serious form of gendered racism, it perpetuates stereotypes and social prejudices which the state is spending money to eliminate through various programmes,” Antoniou said.
In a human rights House committee hearing on Monday, members of parliament failed to reach a decision on whether to cut funding for Body Jane, pending the legal opinion of the state attorney general’s office on the matter.
Administrators from the Commerce Ministry including the head of the team in the hearing refused to give the names of the individuals who approved state funding for the controversial product.
A dispute then went on until the minister was contacted, prompting the administrators to reveal the names of the independent evaluators, a hospitality professor at a Limassol university and an architecture professor in Nicosia.
So far €20,000 of public money has been spent on the product, while the rest of the money estimated at €30,000 is still up in the air due to the controversy. The House reportedly will ask for the money back according to media reports.
But the CEO of Hacienda Entertainment, Doros Loucaides, says the portable urinal is a “product with a positive design approach” and maybe even “a touch of sex appeal” according to the company’s website, where Body Jane is being sold at €19.90 a piece.
It is a concept not for the faint hearted
One customer who wrote a review in 2015, according to an online review, said it was an “amazing product” and a “perfect gift after an accident!”
Another buyer said she purchased Body Jane for her husband who had been involved in a motorcycle accident.
“I think it was the right gift! hope he gets well soon!” she wrote.
Loucaides came up with the idea when he had to spend time in hospital after a knee surgery due to a skiing accident in Switzerland, which forced him to use a “green, plastic, ugly piece of equipment.”’
Loucaides’ mother, a local politician in Nicosia who also is the director at the company, came to the defence of her son last month, telling daily Phileleftheros that she was amazed with the backlash and public outcry.
Her son maintained that the product was something that people could view as “something beautiful” and added it could be used as a neo-modern artifact that could be used even as a wine decanter.
“It is a concept not for the faint hearted,” he writes on the company’s website.
But it is exactly those standards and concepts of beauty that are in question and hit a nerve with the public, with some saying the product goes too far while others say the social impact has been overstated.