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'Sexist' men's parking spaces reignite anger

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'Sexist' men's parking spaces reignite anger
The new artwork on the 'men's parking spaces' has sparked controversy. Photo: DPA
14:22 CEST+02:00
A Black Forest town has earned criticism from gender equality officers and social media after advertising a "men's parking space" in a public car-park - using a naked woman's silhouette.

The silhouette shows a woman lolling backwards, legs splayed and breasts exposed.

Painted beside her are the words "Steep mountains, moist valleys" in German.

But this semi-erotic image isn't printed on the cover of a top-shelf lads' magazine.

In fact, it's plastered onto the wall of a public car-park - notifying drivers that this is a men's parking space.

Humour or horror?

This "Männerparkplatz" is the first of its kind in the Black Forest town of Triberg, reports Bild.de.

Of course, it's become something of a tourist attraction since it was introduced in 2012 – and its new artwork looks set to increase its publicity.

The artwork is a contribution to humour in today's society, Triberg Mayor Dr. Gallus Strobel claimed.

Werner Oppelt, the artist behind the image, said that passers-by have mostly been fans of the picture.

"Again and again, people come to have a look – including visitors from Holland, Spain and Italy – and no-one has expressed any negative opinions."

However, it seems not everyone is as enthusiastic about the artwork as its creator.

"An unsuccessful publicity stunt! The mayor told Bild it was a "contribution to humour." Truly embarrassing!"

 

"These old muppets just don't realise how embarrassing and stupid it is."

 

'Misogynistic and inhuman'

The new artwork has angered gender equality and equal opportunity officers in Baden-Württemberg.

"This type of sexist advertising, which uses a woman's naked body to grab attention and suggests women are a sexual commodity, is both misogynistic and inhuman," they told Bild on Friday.

However, Mayor Strobel has no plans to remove the image in the near future.

"It's a matter of artistic freedom," he told Bild. "Art is allowed to provoke people, and should do so."

As for artist Oppelt, this is a debate he wants nothing more to do with.

"I was unwilling to take part in this from the start," the pensioner admitted. "It's simply not my style."

For Oppelt, who paints as a hobby, this was a commissioned work, and nothing more.

Women's parking places: the sexism debate

The controversy comes amidst continuing debate about women-only parking spaces in Germany.

Described as "patronizing" by some and a safety measure by others, these spaces are designed to help female drivers feel less threatened in public car-parks.

However, the spaces have been deemed sexist by many - with Frankfurt Airport describing their female spaces as "bigger, nicer and close to the terminals."

The suggestion that women are less competent at parking than men was echoed by Strobel when discussing the town's men-only spots.

"These places are difficult to use, and can only be reversed into," he told Bild – explaining that this was what gave officials the idea to make them into designated men's spaces.

Written by Hannah Butler

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