July 6, 2014

The gender politics of the Iowa rest stop.

I haven't driven through every state, but I do tend to judge states by the quality of their rest stops. On this standard, I shamed Oklahoma in 2007 and, in 2010, gave presumptive first place to Iowa. Today, once again, we drove through Iowa, and though I am unshakable in my praise for the Iowa rest stop, I want to call attention to some strange doings in Council Bluffs.

Now, first, if you, like me, are rest-stop judgmental, your chances of stopping at the Council Bluffs rest stop are very high. It's the last stop in Iowa before Nebraska, if you're traveling west, and the first stop in Iowa after Nebraska, if you are traveling east. You see my point. I will not transgress into the delicate territory of private bodily needs that cycle through the mind of the driver and passenger hurtling over the concrete that is I-80. One must stop and... rest. Preferably in Iowa. Land of the Best Rest Stops.

Do you know why Council Bluffs is called Council Bluffs and not Kanesville? Kanesville was the name in 1848, after Thomas L. Kane, who helped the Mormons on their exodus to Utah, getting them permission to camp for the winter on what was Indian land. Later, in 1852, the place was renamed Council Bluffs, the "council" being something that had taken place long before the Mormons dug in for the winter: In 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition held a council with the Indians of the Otoe Tribe.

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A sign (which didn't make a photograph worth displaying) indicated Iowa's agenda using art to "educate travelers" about things "cultural, historical, social, or natural." In that light, consider the entry into the women's bathroom:

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Iowa, what are you trying to teach us? I'm feeling a little uneasy. A tad... disrespected. And:

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Women/Fox Squirrel. Yes, I see it now.

41 comments:

Jake said...

Giant Beaver?

Saint Croix said...

Women/Fox Squirrel.

What I saw was the unfortunate placing of "Women" right next to "Beaver." That is a rude rest stop right there. And it's official! Taxpayer dollars were spent to put Women right next to Beaver. I think that would be an impeachment scandal. Blatant misuse of taxpayer funds. Or there would be an impeachment scandal if local voters went to the rest stop. But they probably don't, right? So all the tourists are insulted and the town doesn't understand why they can't grow their economy.

Big Mike said...

So you can't use that women's room unless you're foxy. Shouldn't stop you, Professor.

rhhardin said...

I assume they have low bushes out back.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Damnit people, don't be givin' short shrift to "FLESH EATING SHORT TAILED SHREW"

That ain't good neither.

rhhardin said...

Something has built a dam across the door.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

I don't appreciate the mold green labia either, nor it's floor placement where it gets walked on 24/7.

Bob said...

Flesh-eating shrew?

Saint Croix said...

okay, the "giant beaver" is not only right next to the woman's bathroom, the height of the sign is not at eye-level, but a couple of feet lower. That is a very suspicious location.

Anonymous said...

Terrible Reading Comprehension Guy says:

Notice how Althouse distracts us with the "Fox Squirrel" photo to obscure, in the picture above, her photographic comment regarding the Scarlett Johansson defamation case: "Flesh Eating Short Tailed Shrew." Would that "Flesh Eating Short Tailed Shrew" perhaps be named Scarlett? Plausible deniability, eh Althouse?

HG said...

Tax dollars at work..who reviews this anyway ?

Humperdink said...

Ann, one hour east of my abode in northern woods of Pa. sits the tiny town of Kane, Pa.(pop. <4,000) Named after the same Thomas L. Kane.

Per wiki:

"Kane(Pa) was founded by Major General Thomas L. Kane and his wife Elizabeth Denniston Wood Kane, M.D. Thomas L. Kane was the second son of Judge John Kintzing Kane of Philadelphia, a prominent associate of Presidents Jackson and Polk. In 1846, then Colonel Kane aided the Mormons on their flight west from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake; he arranged for them to winter on Indian lands near Council Bluffs, Iowa. In 1858, Colonel Kane prevented the "Utah War" between 2500 US Army soldiers, under A.S. Johnston, and the Mormons, under Kane's personal friend, Brigham Young.

Thomas L. Kane was offered the Utah Territorial Governorship, but insisted that the position go to Brigham Young. Although never a religious convert to the Latter-day Saints, General Kane remained a personal, political, and legal adviser to Brigham Young until Young's death. General Kane's older brother was Elisha Kent Kane, America's most prominent Arctic explorer before the Civil War. The General's wife and three of their four children became physicians in Kane(Pa). Their oldest son, Evan O'Neil Kane, M.D., demonstrated the efficacy of local anesthesia on two occasions by performing surgery on himself—once repairing an inguinal hernia, and once removing his own appendix."

traditionalguy said...

Since a woman is the apex of God's creation, the Darwinist's felt the need to visually reverse engineer women through their theoretical evolutionary accident origin.

So that visual lecture is disrespect with a capital D.

Saint Croix said...

It just occurred to me that Althouse spotted the rude beaver sign right away, intentionally included it in her juxtaposition, and did not mention it so the rude boys in her audience would say it.

Well played, A.A.!

Ann Althouse said...

It's not just beaver, but sloth and shrew that seem insulting, and I started feeling offended at "mast-" and "moll-" and stag and everything.

I mean it can be hard enough for a woman, especially traveling alone, to use a highway bathroom. Why throw all these animals in my face in this nightmarish phantasmagoria.

And clearly the floor pattern is vulvar.

And menstruating...

n.n said...

Oh, look, squirrel.

Humperdink said...

While traveling through Montana on our trip out west last fall, spouse had to use the restroom. We saw none for miles (and miles).

Came upon an exit labelled Montana State Hospital. Got off, looked around and saw nothing but the state hospital. No choice at this point. We walked in the front door of the state hospital,found the restrooms and then left.

The restrooms were plain, but clean and orderly *cough*.

rcommal said...

"Can't I just 'do my business?' "

So to speak.

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LOL.

John Lawton said...

Thank you, Ann. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!

boinky said...

As Freud once said: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Imagine thinking a woman would see this display and think: Gee! a great display of extinct mammals found in this are!
Guess that's because I'm a scientist (of the female sex) not a feminist (of the freudian type).

Nichevo said...

Uhuh...you continue to deny that you use mind altering substances, right, Althouse?

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

The charge is "Gender [sic] Politics." Evidence presented is pictures of the Women's rest room entrance.

What does the entrance to the Men's rest room look like?

What was the sex of the folks who did the building art design?

Typical of much of the rubbish circulating today:
..I have a right to not feel offended. Other people, not myself, are responsible for how I feel.
..Some women have a hard time. Therefore: all women have a hard time; no men have hard time; and men are the cause.

St. George said...

Well, what did the entrance to the Men's Room look like!!

John Constantius said...

That's an awful lot of Nebraska and Iowa to put up with just to avoid getting on a plane.

The best road trips out west (whether Colorada, the Southwest, or whatever) start with a plane to Denver and then driving a rental car from there -- you miss all the snooze-inducing farmland.

Texas has by far the best rest stops. Palaces. Must be all the oil money. I've driven in all 50 states including Alaska & Hawaii so I know of what I speak.

gerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill R said...

You missed your calling Professor. You should have been a gender studies professor.

Oh wait, you have a sense of humor. Never mind.

gerry said...

No, wait...I'll bet the whole trhing was designed by a lesbian-owned architectural firm.

So Iowa could fight the male hegemony.

rhhardin said...

Clams apparently are not found in Iowa.

William said...

The whole concept of a flesh eating short tailed shrew is disquieting and has no place in a rest stop. Do these birds make their nests in toilet bowls and attack unwary passerby? I suppose not, but that's a thought that occurs to someone not familiar with their habits.

traditionalguy said...

War on fossils.

paul a'barge said...

Women/Fox Squirrel?

You missed the obvious -
Women / Beaver.

Old RPM Daddy said...

During road trips from Ohio to South Dakota to visit family in the 1970s, I also noted that Iowa had the nicest rest stops. Where Ohio and Indiana had nasty A-frames with a hand pump outside for washing, Iowa's rest stops were fully enclosed and had electric hand dryers. Oh, the luxury!

Incidentally, when visiting my wife's family in the Philippines a few years ago, we took the time to visit the island of Bohol. The thing we noticed was that, along the routes commonly used the tourists, the bathrooms were startlingly clean. Somebody in the Bohol Tourism Bureau must have worked that issue pretty hard.

Ann Althouse said...

"You missed the obvious - Women / Beaver."

I didn't miss it. I photographed it. Speaking of obvious, how obvious do I need to be about my observations?

Ann Althouse said...

"You missed your calling Professor. You should have been a gender studies professor."

I've done plenty of gender studies stuff as a law professor.

"Oh wait, you have a sense of humor. Never mind."

Gender studies is better when it's funny, but you might not find the humor to your liking.

dave_WI said...

I see 'Beaver'

jaed said...

If I saw that restroom, exhaused and loopy from highway hypnosis, I'd probably flash back to a Stephen King story and run screaming. "Whyyy is there bloooood all over the flooooorrrr????"

I second the call for an account of the entrance to the men's restroom. Were animals mentioned? Which ones? And were there patterns suggesting vulvas on the floor? I am intrigued.

Meade? Any reports?

EMD said...

Thanks for the sin of omission as to the entrance of the men's room. I'm betting there's stupid shit on the walls and floor of that entrance, too.

Clyde said...

And then there's the poor Stag Moose caught between the Giant Beaver and the Flesh Eating Short Tailed Shrew. Rumor has it that the latter put the kibosh on the Stag Moose's proposed threesome. Shrews are that way.

southcentralpa said...

If you want complete culture shock attend a movie at the Iowa 80 truck stop (exit 284 on I-80). It's the sort of crowd that would've given "Easy Rider" a standing ovation on the basis of how it ended ...

(I attended a screening of "Starship Troopers" back when it was out and I thought the roof was going to come off after the scene where people are sentenced to death and they announce the execution will be that very evening (and televised).)

rcommal said...

Fancy state rest-stops cost money, do they not?

Rest stops used to be the plain, no-nonsense alternative to getting off exits and either spending money or finding a place to just park so that the family could eat brought-along sandwiches and to (preferably discreetly, but if not, so be it, just] "go."

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Is WiFi still the determining factor?

I wonder.

rcommal said...

Separately and apart:

Let's do make a distinction between rest-stops and truck-stops. The key distinction[/s] is[/are] important.