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Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

Sexualised imagery sparks protest at Brunswick carnival

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Eight local men held a protest on Saturday over what they say is inappropriate sexualised imagery at the Bruns carnival. Photo supplied

Paul Bibby

A group of local men took part in a silent protest at the McGregor’s Family Carnival in Brunswick Heads on Saturday over a sexualised image of a woman painted on one of the rides.

The eight men, aged between 17 and 65, stood in a line in front of the ‘Stars’ ride, which depicts model and actress Liz Hurley standing in a provocative pose wearing a bra and suspenders.

The men were representing a group of concerned locals who have been calling for the image to be changed on the grounds that it objectifies women and should not be displayed in a place designed for children and adolescents.

Local father Jeremy Ball, who took part in the protest, said he and others objected to the message the image sent to local kids.

‘I took my two daughters who are 11 and 12 to the ride last year and I just felt uncomfortable about them seeing that image, particularly as they’re coming into puberty,’ Mr Ball said.

‘I don’t want them, or my son, or other local kids to be subjected to an image that depicts women and the feminine in that way.’

‘This is our way of saying that we want the image changed and also that it’s okay for a man to stand up when something affects women in a negative way.’  

Claim rejected

But the carnival owner Glen McGregor rejected any suggestion that the image was inappropriate or offensive.

Mr McGregor said his family had operated the ride all year round throughout the country and had never had an issue outside of Brunswick Heads.

‘We have been coming to Brunswick Heads for 62 years and we consider Bruns to be our second home,’ Mr McGregor said.

‘I feel we are part of Brunswick Heads’ summer culture.

‘I would also like to thank the community for their overwhelming and ongoing support.’

The protest is the latest chapter in an ongoing disagreement over the image.

A number of locals have asked Mr McGregor to paint over or remove the picture of Ms Hurley in recent years.

One asked the Department of Crown Lands, which has responsibility for the site, to intervene, but it refused to do so – reportedly telling the woman the image was ‘inoffensive’.

The Echo understands that, in response to the complaints Mr McGregor added a light coat of white paint to the partially cover Ms Hurley’s breasts.

But this was not enough for locals who want it changed completely.

‘It’s an improvement from last year, but it’s still using the lure of sexuality,’ Mr Ball said.

‘Imagine how good it would be if there were an Indigenous mural painted on there? I think it would actually encourage a lot more parents to take their kids down there and spend more money.’

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  1. And I find the imagery that objectifies all men as rough tough football players and racing car drivers, offensive.
    What message does that give our boys?
    Geez fellers, I really don’t think women need you to stand up for them in such a way. I am sure they can stand up for themselves if they find it offensive .

    • I think you’re missing the point….I reckon these blokes are protesting the stereotyping of both men and women. They have sons and daughters who are subjected to these sorts of images every day and this is a chance for them to say it on a local level and to show that there’s plenty of blokes who object to the stereotypes too…more power to them!

      • The protest is not whether women can or can’t stand up for themselves
        The protest is clear and simple …. I don’t like these images as a backdrop to my children’s childhood or my life
        And I’m saying so

  2. Maybe they feel righteous outrage on behalf of their wives, girlfriends, aunties, mothers, children etc. You could try talking to them, Sue, I’m sure they won’t bite.

  3. The tide is turning. Someone has to be the edge of the cultural change saying we do no longer accept sexualised images of women as general advertising. Thank you to these people who have taken a stance.

  4. Well done taking a stand. My friend and I tried this a few years ago. A temporary cover for the breasts was provided reluctantly, but removed the following year. Assertive men standing up for what they believe in.

  5. Good on them, so over the objectification of men and women into pornographic or idealised imagery. Surely there’s a better way to advertise a carnival ride that’s mostly aimed at kids? No wonder there’s so many issues with body image and depression!

  6. first off , mandy is a great comedian … but … i think this article is way over the top …. if my sons and daughters saw that picture , they wouldn’t even notice it !! take a look at the top female surfers … they are gorgeous and they flaunt it , WHY NOT ? your living in a vacuum mandy , this is a waste of time , those blokes are a joke .

  7. This ride operator called my young girls and other kids on the ride ‘retards’ … And refused to let them off when I asked… before the ride had started.

  8. I won’t take my children there because of that image. It is not ok. If there were pictures of blokes in g strings with female sports women, I am sure we would see how bizzare it actually is. I don’t want my daughter comparing herself to that image, I don’t want my son thinking that is an image of an ideal woman either, they are role models painted on a kids ride, not in a picture mag. Hats off to these blokes that stood up to this.

  9. Over the years, significant number of women in our community have already approached the owners of the carnival, the council and the Crowns Land expressing their deep concern about this image and their wish for it’s removal has fallen on deaf ears. Much the same as women who have spoken out over the years about sexual harassment or assault to those at the top who have the power to protect them, and they have been made wrong or even worse, threatened for speaking out.
    The positions of power in education, politics. Religion and industry are still dominated by male leaders, so it is a radical action for men to let it be known to other men in power to make changes that they too have had a gutfull of this abuse of women and are standing up for us.
    The tide is changing…. Women are uniting voices who have been abused and the line between abide and sexualisation of women is glowing brighter
    We see here a powerful illustration of men remembering they have an in-built duty to protect innocence, not property. Well done to these men and those who really, really get the bigger picture here and who will be in full support of more protests until this sexist ride is totally removed for good.
    And shame on the older people in our community who have alllowed this subtle brainwashing of our community for years in the name of ‘family fun.’

  10. I suppose also these guys don’t buy a paper or magazine, use the internet, watch any television with any whiff of sexualisation of women. I assume also that they are wonderful husbands and partners, kind and considerate putting their partners and children first not raising their voice in anger or being in any way violent. That they provide leadership and encouragement to their family and others around them on moral and ethical behaviour. From the picture in the paper, really this needs a protest. Looks pretty tame to me. I get what’s happening and I agree, but some of this stuff of this nature has a hint of selective outrage, bullying and vigilantism. Which in my estimation is as bigger worry as the matter the protesters are addressing.

  11. The ride is called “Stars” apparently. It is not called “Inspirational people”. This whole reaction is just absurd. Mandy Nolan wrote a piece about this appalling sexualisation but appears to have a different thought depending on the subject. Apparently her and Ellen Briggs being in their underwear to promote a comedy night is acceptable, as is getting your breasts out to feed a child. And, I agree. But, whenever the subject matter is a thin, attractive person and a hint of breast appears, it is suddenly disgusting. I call BS! If the picture was Casey Donovan with half her breasts hanging out, these same people that are overreacting to this would be praising how brave it is that a fuller figured woman can feel beautiful in her body.

    Let’s look at the facts. It’s an airbrush artwork. Admittedly, not very good. But, it’s not even a photo! It’s paint. The other “inspirational” people in this artwork are almost completely unknown. The NFL player is a complete rip off of Madden 08 game cover. The player is Vince Young. A player whose career lasted only 6 years. And only 3 of which were good. The ice hockey player is Czech born Jaromir Jagr. Who has even heard of this guy? There is a Ferrari driver in there. It could be Alonso, it could be Massa. It could be anyone. If they wanted this to be inspirational, in the very least they could have had Mark Webber or Daniel Ricciardo. And then the F1 car is a BMW. It doesn’t even match the driver. And then there is a random picture of a woman that appears slightly Asian in appearance. No idea who she is…

    What I do know is that no son of mine is going to look at that and go, “Dad, I want to be an ice hockey player, just like Jaromir!” The same as no daughter of mine is going to say, “Wow, I hope I grow up to have tits that I can get out.”

    As I said earlier, if that was a full figured woman, she could show whatever she wants because it is “brave”. But, because it is an attractive thin woman, it is offensive. The fact of the matter is that Liz Hurley (who this picture is apparently portraying) is a very attractive woman. She likes to get her tits out. Just Google image search Liz Hurley and see how many pictures you have to look at before you see one with her tits out. it won’t be many. A traveling carnival ride painting is not something to get upset about. You’ll see as much of a woman’s body in the park surrounding where that painting is. Are you going to tell all the ladies in the water to cover up?

  12. You could perhaps talk to your kids and explain to them why the mural is bad and they could learn to understand how imagery, advertising, news etc is attempting to manipulate them. Might help.

  13. I’m grateful that there are some real men in this community willing to stand up for women and children. This image and the attitudes that condone it are really offensive.

  14. the women who propose to “hang their tits out” at the rally tonight in support of the carnival’s sexist billboard should thank the feminists who made it possible for you to have the freedom to wear whatever you want, without being sexually harassed or threatened with rape. the freedoms and opportunities you enjoy are the result of 100 years of feminism.

  15. all the male sports stars are wearing clothes – people are asking for the semi naked pouting women wearing garter and suspenders with her boobs bulging out to be replaced with a famous sports woman celebrating her achievements – why is that so difficult for so many to comprehend? It is an exploitive sexualised image telling young people that men are good at sport, women are something to be looked at and ogled, not active successful participants in sport. A totally inappropriate message on a children’s carnival ride. Efforts to discuss cultural stereotypes, exploitation or sexism has fallen on deaf ears. Your entitled to your opinion, but young women can thank a feminist for the freedom to wear whatever they want without being sexually harassed or raped!

  16. Funny I just stumbled soon this article as I just attended the Nambour Show with my 9 year old daughter and was blown away with by how many rides had such sexualized artwork of young girls airbrushed on the rides. At first take it is dismissed as gaudy and garish carnival art, bordering on hilarity but it was undeniably sexually charged. Second take i found it quite disturbing and totally inappropriate for todays culture. It sends out the wrong messages to our young people and condones the continued sexualization of young girls. I didn’t see any young males in suggestive poses and half naked in comparison. Wouldn’t that raise any questions? Good on the men for trying to open our eyes to a redundant culture and showing respect towards our youth.


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