“A new public bathroom was opened on the north side a few days ago, a truly handsome place and apparently well run. The pleasant impressions lasts until one steps into the men’s washroom and finds there on the wall a contraption of glass tubes and levers and a shot for the insertion of a coin. The glass tubes contain a fluffy pink solid and beneath them one reads something like this: ‘Insert coin. Hold personal puff beneath the tube. Then pull the lever.’
A powder vending machine! In a men’s washroom! Homo Americanus! Why didn’t someone quietly drown Rudolph Gugliemo, alias Valentino, years ago?
… It is time for a matriarchy if the male of the species allows such things to persist. Better a rule by masculine women than by effeminate men. Man began to slip, we are beginning to believe, when he discarded the straight razor for the safety pattern. We shall not be surprised when we hear that the safety razor has given way to the depilatory.
Who or what is to blame is what puzzles me. Is this degeneration into effeminacy a cognate reaction with pacifism to the virilies and realities of the war? Are pink powder and parlor pinks in any way related? How does one reconcile masculine cosmetics, sheiks, floppy pants, and slave bracelets with a disregard for law and an aptitude for crime more in keeping with the frontier of half a century ago than a twentieth-century metropolis?”
Chicago Tribune editorial, July 18, 1926.