A mural on a children’s carnival ride depicting a scantily clad woman pushing her breasts together has divided residents of a northern New South Wales tourist hotspot.
The McGregor’s Family Carnival has visited Brunswick Heads every summer for more than 60 years, and introduced a ride featuring the controversial mural four years ago.
A group of locals raised concerns about the mural when it first pulled into town, and the carnival operators had it modified to cover part of a woman’s cleavage.
However, Glen McGregor said some opponents of the mural were still unsatisfied and had harassed him amid calls to get rid of it.
“I don’t have a problem with the mural, my wife doesn’t have a problem with it, my sister, my mother, my nieces, my children and grandchildren don’t have a problem with it,” he said.
Comedian leads call for change
Local writer and comedian Mandy Nolan is one of those calling for the mural to be changed.
“People are saying ‘Get over it, it doesn’t worry me’ but it’s so irrelevant because it’s huge, it’s cultural, it’s global,” she said.
“We can’t just ignore things anymore.”
She said the mural, which also features fully dressed football players, suggested to children that a woman’s role was purely sexual.
“We have to change it because it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t offend you, we’re telling that story to little girls and little boys about the role of men and women and it’s time it stopped,” Ms Nolan said.
“It’s not about nudity, it’s not about being prudish. No one has a problem with nudity or breastfeeding or breasts, it’s the way it’s being portrayed. It’s sexist.
“You don’t have the men on the mural holding up their scrotums and pushing them forward, dressed provocatively in Speedos.”
Attacks on Facebook
Ms Nolan said she had also been attacked for speaking out against the mural on social media.
“With everything that’s happening, the Golden Globes speech by Oprah, the Harvey Weinsteins of the world, I thought there was a swell of people in the community starting to stand up for women and I thought people would support the change,” she said.
“I talked about how this was the dominant narrative in rape culture and someone put on my Facebook ‘Mandy Nolan, who’d want to rape her?’
“It’s almost case in point when that happens. You’ve just illustrated the point of why it needs to go.”
Mr McGregor said he had been quoted $40,000 for a new mural from his preferred airbrush artist, and he could not afford it.
However, he said he would consider using money raised by the community via a crowdfunding campaign.
“McGregor’s Family Carnival is proud of the community support we’ve received over many years, and we’re proud of the community work we do,” he said.
Ms Nolan said she did not want the carnival to leave town.
“I think it’s great to have carnivals of the past, but sexism is something we want to make part of the past,” she said.
“The carnival doesn’t have to leave, but the mural shouldn’t stay.”