The Beast’s Monthly Mailbag
Offensive and Misogynistic
I found the cover picture of the March 2021 edition offensive and misogynistic. This is supposed to be a local neighbourhood newsletter, not a pornographic magazine. When I looked back at previous publications, the January front page is also demeaning to women’s image and offensive.
Stop putting your filthy rag in my letterbox. I will be writing to our local business and councils to stop supporting your magazine. Kids open our family mailboxes; what sort of message does it send?
Don’t email me back to tell me you are right and I am wrong. I am entitled to my opinion and my privacy. I will not, as suggested, give myself an uppercut and go to bed. There is a time and place for such images.
Probably Saudi Arabia
An Apology Please
James – I am writing to ask you to print a written apology, in the next edition, to the residents of Randwick and Waverley Local Government Areas for your front cover photo on the March 2021 edition of The Beast magazine. This image is not OK.
The image is degrading and highly offensive to women in our community – thousands of us. It portrays women not only as sexual objects but suggests and promotes potential harmful treatment of women, including rear and anal sex. It suggests dominance and entitlement rather than equality and consent.
This is a dangerous message you are sending to men, women, boys and girls alike. For example, consider the trouble some young sportsmen are getting into for not being sure about consent. Are these the cultural and community values you want to promote in your publication – values that objectify and promote the potential abuse of women? If you do, I suggest you are out of touch with the times.
For years police, armed forces, politicians, surf lifesaving clubs, schools and government have all walked on White Ribbon Day in our Local Government Area, and only yesterday the mayor of Randwick, Councillor Danny Said, spoke about the importance of equality and respect for everyone at ‘the rainbow’ on Coogee promenade.
You only have to look at what is happening in Canberra this week and the uproar from people on both sides of parliament and beyond in the broader Australian community to determine the levels of respect expected towards women in 2021.
It is my opinion you risk, and should lose, advertising income over such publication. I am going to copy the two mayors and the state member for Coogee into this email.
Resident and Lawyer
Cover of March Magazine
I find the cover highly offensive and disturbing. It can be a painting better displayed elsewhere. It is not only a distorted image of the female body, but also condescending, ugly, dirty, sexual and degradingly portrayed. I wonder if you would get away with a similar image of a male portrayed in the same distorted, sexual, ugly way?
Missing the Mark
Dear James – I always look forward to my monthly copy of The Beast and have been an avid reader since I moved to the east 13 years ago. It’s funny, topical and community minded.
Unfortunately, I felt that this month’s edition missed its usual mark. It’s just my opinion, but I thought the cover, a beautiful image by an obviously skilled artist, was a bit dated for a community mag and more suited to an art gallery, a beach bar or a lads’ magazine. But hey, no big deal. Art is subjective and we’re lucky enough to live in a place where we’re free to form our own opinions and respect those of others.
Or are we? The editor’s letter seemed to mock anyone who didn’t like the image, regardless of whether they asked for the magazine or not. For many, the letter is nothing but harmless banter. For many others, it’s typical of a culture that tells women any problem we have with how we’re represented is ours and our alone. Or to use a very clumsy analogy, if someone puts something in our (mail)box that we didn’t ask for and don’t like, we just need to relax and get over it. This is the same culture that results in some young men – good men – doing things they know are wrong because to do otherwise risks social exclusion and, yes, more mockery.
Am I saying the editor’s letter or anyone at The Beast supports or encourages rape culture? Absolutely not. Perhaps it’s unfortunate timing, but when we have hundreds of young people and school principals right here in the Eastern Suburbs speaking up about a ‘pretty dark culture’ of sexual assault, routinely followed by banter that aims to undermine and discount victims’ ordeals, the editor’s letter seemed tone deaf and pretty ignorant. Put arses on the cover by all means, but please don’t tell us we’re wrong to have an opinion on it.
Wishing you all the best,
Not good enough!
Dear James – The Beast has given us much enjoyment over many years. The cover this month takes the cake and greatly disappoints us. The bikini-clad bum is not good enough. Offering me an uppercut and bed is pathetic.
My husband just walked in from the letterbox with The Beast and said we must write a letter to the editor this time. Surely you know that there are much better ways to entertain your readers? You have had enough complaints previously.
Please keep the magazine a well run, well done, good taste newspaper. There is so much to celebrate in the Eastern Suburbs apart from a woman’s back.
More Local Artist Covers, Less Objectification
I am so grateful for all of the wonderful local artists you are bringing to the cover of The Beast – I have the June 2020 cover framed in my home. That said, what’s up with two covers in a row (January and March 2021 editions) objectifying women?
At a time when it is hard enough as a father to teach my two sons that it is not alright to treat women as sexual objects instead of people, it doesn’t help to have the cover of one of our favourite magazines presenting a female surfer as a pair of glutes.
When you have a guy in Speedos on the cover (May and April 2020 editions) they are treated as individuals with their own personalities, not faceless stereotypes. And, no, it doesn’t make it better that this month’s artist is female. Enough!
To the editor – Love The Beast featuring local artists on the cover (please keep doing so), but one cover sexually objectifying a woman’s body surely was enough? The March edition cover that just arrived, featuring not even a woman’s face, just her bottom, is a major disappointment.
Isn’t this 2021? Aren’t we all in this together finally, pushing against the tide of sexism as we raise the next, improved generation (full of women who feel safe and men who don’t treat women as objects but as, gasp, human equals? If you think what you are doing is about body positivity and that this is all equal and good, then pay better attention, or try objectifying equally – Budgie Smuggler close-ups for the next covers?
A Sad Day
Hi James – I’m a long time reader and admirer of The Beast. But when I did see this issue’s cover I groaned. And then I read your editorial about giving myself an uppercut if I was offended by it.
You just gave me a double uppercut. It’s poor timing to put an image like this out when we’ve got politicians behaving like schoolboys, and schoolboys behaving like politicians.
I think you need to read the room a lot better than this. The only way we can get the male mindset away from objectifying women and treating us with respect is to stop using glorifying images of women like this. I’m really sad, you just lost a reader.
The March Cover
Hi James – This is not a complaint, just an education piece about the March cover of The Beast. The cover is not offensive, just plain inappropriate.
Of all the wonderful paintings Yasmin has done, I’m guessing you felt this one best represented the Eastern Beaches in 2021. I get it, the girl is in a bikini, and at the beach we see girls in bikinis all the time. Genius! Uppercut to myself for not understanding the nuances of an editor’s mind in being able to link the imagery.
Of course, in other leftist mainstream media, the mundane headlines and imagery all week were about a whiny girl called Brittany and of course our local girl Chanel’s petition, where “Over 2000 Sydney Girls Allege They Were Sexually Assaulted By Young Men From All-Boys Schools”. Fortunately in the east we hardly have any all-boys schools.
When my eight-year-old daughter picked up The Beast out of our mailbox this week, I wish you could have seen her face light up with empowerment when she ogled Yasmin’s artistic skills. Finally someone was speaking to her, giving her some much-needed inspiration.
I’m going to bed now and hopefully when I wake up The Beast will have a more enlightened, mature and socially responsible editor.
I will not be “tempted to complain” and not have to suspect that there might be some sexism at play, on the day when I will see an equivalent painting of a male body on the cover of The Beast.
Lantana in the Park
Dear Beast – Peter West is right, lantana is on the march in Queens Park (Letters, The Beast, March 2021). So is ivy. It’s strangling a grand and glorious Port Jackson Fig on the corner of John and Henry Streets. The tree needs protection.
And while we’re in that area, what is the story with that large strip of land above the rock ledge? Is it part of Queens Park, or does it come under Waverley Council? Either way, it’s neglected and becoming a private reserve of the adjoining landowners. Without doubt it has the absolute best views of the whole parkland. It needs some care and attention, and opening up to the public.
Pearls of wisdom
Dear Pearl (Rights and Responsibilities, The Beast, March 2021) – I’m a fan of the New Zealand approach, from the town of Taihape on the North Island.
Varna park ‘upgrades’
Residents of the Waverley Council LGA and in the area of Varna Park should be aware that Waverley Council proposes to undertake various works (commenced on February 22) and spend, based on Council information, a total of $280,000 in funds as follows:
• New picnic shelter, new drinking fountain, playground improvements, removal and pruning of trees, removing old seats – $100,000
• Further playground works – the existing playground will be demolished – $56,000
• New fitness station – $100,000
• Off-leash dog area works – $13,000
• New bins – $5,000
• Shade trees and plants – $6,000
That these works were to occur was advised by letter drop to nearby residents dated February 8, 2021 (received in letterboxes some days after). Prior to this, “consultation” was conducted in two rounds on October 15 to November 8, 2019 (this was via an “ideas board” that generated 34 ideas) and December 6, 2019 to January 27, 2020 (an online survey where respondents were asked to comment on a concept plan, which had 59 respondents). The next update was the letterbox drop received the week commencing February 15, 2021, advising works were commencing February 22, 2021.
It is important to note that the consultation was undertaken by the council’s “Have Your Say” community engagement website, which relies largely on members of the community initiating their engagement with what is occurring by visiting the Council website. Also, anyone can provide feedback whether they are a resident or not, or an individual or other entity. There was no consultation targeted at residents, nor the feedback from residents looked at as a subset of the information collected. The impact of the park’s usage on residents who live nearby a park can be very different to visitors or occasional users of a park (not least of all because they are affected by the activities at a nearby park more often).
Varna Park is acknowledged, including by Council, as a park for which it is important to retain a local feel (e.g. there are much larger, more formal parks nearby with a number of amenities including Queens Park, Centennial Park, beach parks and coastal walks). Waverley has one of the highest population densities in Australia. It is part of the Wentworth federal electorate, which is the second smallest by area in Australia. With increasing population density comes the need for more open and green space – not less. Each time a decision is made to remove multiple-use public space for a specific use, this is removing that space from a more varied use by a wider group, and to instead be used for a specific use by a particular user group. In making such a decision, it has to be able to demonstrate clear benefits and be based on adequate evidence.
Local residents are concerned that the works do not in fact represent an upgrade to Varna Park, and are not an appropriate use of funds. This is because the works will cause Varna Park to lose the local feel, and there has not been appropriate consideration and assessment of the negative impacts of undertaking the works.
While many aspects could be raised (including why an entire playground that was upgraded in 2012 needs to be demolished in its entirety), two aspects are of particular concern – the lack of regard had for the environmental impact of the works, and the impacts associated with the fitness station have not been properly assessed.
Council has removed a number of mature trees from Varna Park in the last year or so. It does not seem that these trees have been replaced. In a time where there is concern for lack of green cover generally (e.g. recent bushfires) and increased focus on acting sustainably, where mature trees are removed there must be a replacement strategy implemented. Of a budget of $280,000, a measly $6,000 (only 2 per cent!) is to be spent on “shade trees and plants”. This is clearly not adequate or appropriate. Council must, at a minimum, allocate appropriate funds to replace the mature trees lost. It should also allocate funds to plant more trees, which was supported by 70 per cent of survey respondents. This would clearly cost more than $6,000. Residents can talk to many instances of illegal and unapproved tree removal, objections to tree removal permits that are disregarded, and a general loss of trees and green space in the area. This is an instance where Council has to take a positive action in replacing some of the loss.
Contrast this with the fitness station, which will use 35 per cent of the funds, costing $100,000. This will result in the loss of green open space, with hard fixtures for a specific use only. Its location is to be immediately adjacent to a small garden bed in the park at the end of Wills Avenue. The small garden bed contains a number of native plants that are frequented by groups of small birds which often fly in a triangular area between this garden bed and the larger trees on the Varna Street and Leichhardt Street sides of the park. Waverley Council has acknowledged local bird populations are at risk (e.g. through its Local Connections program, which provides support to establish bird-friendly plantings), however it is now actually placing local bird populations at further risk. There is no environmental impact assessment of the works in the information released by Council. This area of the park is also an area that is closest to homes (the picnic shelter is also proposed to be moved near this area too) and will therefore have an impact on local residents with extra visitation and noise. This impact on residents is not mentioned at all in the information released by Council, despite being raised by residents.
Furthermore, this area also forms part of the “open/free play” area of the park (i.e. the area that is not taken up by the off-leash dog area and the playground), which will now be reduced due to space used by the fitness station.
Of the 59 responses to the online survey, 32 supported the outdoor gym, whereas 42 support more planting of trees. Why does the allocation of funding and works not reflect this? And to such a large extent?
As a park that is to retain its local feel, Varna Park should not receive a fitness station. The impact on local residents has not been considered or evaluated, nor has the environmental impact of the works been assessed. There are numerous fitness stations nearby (including Queens Park, Centennial Park, Clovelly, Tamarama, Bondi and others in the Local Government Area). It is difficult to see why it is even required, let alone how the benefits of such a station at Varna Park outweigh the negative impacts, especially the environmental ones, which could be irrevocable (e.g. disrupting bird populations). And to spend such a large amount on the works when mature trees are being removed and not even being replaced (let alone increased given the increasing population density), are inappropriate and irresponsible actions.
There have been a number of projects related to Council mentioned in the pages of The Beast and by letters from readers where the true value of the project and appropriate use of funds has been questioned by residents. This is another such project. This is not a political party issue, as the ongoing disregard of residents’ needs and wellbeing has been placed secondary to others over the course of Council’s actions for some years now.
Pearl seems to have a chip on her shoulder regarding Clovelly, once known as Poverty Point. I am 80 years of age and have lived in Clovelly all my life and in the present home for 55 years. I went to Clovelly Public School and so did my children.
The suburb of Clovelly was a village long before Pearl. In the 1960s and ‘70s Burnie Street was a village, with two butcher shops, a chemist, post office, bootmaker, haberdashery, bakery, dress shop and grocery store. Westfield and big supermarkets eventually killed this off. The only shops in Pearl’s ‘village’ are cafes and coffee shops – not what I would call a ‘village’. So, Pearl, do not paint us all with the same brush.
Hi James – I recently received a Liberal Party newsletter which, in criticising a decision by Waverley Council councillors to refuse to allow dogs to roam off-leash at Mackenzies Bay, alleged that “83 per cent of community members support a timed dog off-leash trial at Mackenzies Bay.”
FACTS: They failed to disclose that the alleged 83 per cent was comprised of a mere 436 persons, not all from the municipality, who responded to a “Have Your Say Waverley” website page which resulted from an organised petition by dog owners.
Those 436 only represent 0.59 per cent of the 2019 population of Waverley (about 74,300), and 2.3 per cent of the Waverley Ward (some 18,980). The con job of alleging that 83 per cent of community members support allowing dogs to roam at will at Mackenzies Bay for the trial is willfully deceitful.
HISTORY: Being concerned for community safety and enjoyment, Waverley Council has for many years refused requests to allow dogs at Mackenzies Bay, which has an inhospitable rocky area where, occasionally, wave action forms a small narrow beach known locally, on account of its rarity, as ‘7 year beach’ and, to the south, an uneven and often slippery rock platform with tidal pools.
The beach reappeared during 2019/20 summer. While it lasted, dog owners flocked to it, making the otherwise delightful spot unpleasant for others. Not surprisingly, Council officers, to the annoyance of some dog owners, intervened. Those owners not only want dogs to be allowed, but also to run free amongst those wishing to enjoy the area, often with young children. The beach has now disappeared, to return who knows when? Now they want their dogs to run free on the rock platform.
Those wanting unrestrained dogs organised a campaign using online platform Change.org, which advertises that it “mobilises supporters”. This mobilisation resulted in Council inviting viewpoints via “Have Your Say Waverley”, a web page many of your readers may not be aware of.
Not surprisingly, the views of the organised campaigners outnumbered those not wanting the obvious disruption to their enjoyment and who, somehow or other, had become aware of the Council’s web page.
After careful consideration of the contending views and a thorough report by Council officers, the majority of councillors acted in the best interests of the community, as is their duty, and refused to lift the ban on dogs. Among the many factors considered were the following;
“Dogs should be prohibited from accessing the rock platform to promote safety, safeguard the use of the rockpools for young families, prevent dogs from accessing Tamarama Beach and to limit community conflict,” and, “Survey and email responses clearly conveyed that families with young children highly value the rockpools located on the rock platform… The potential risk of co-locating activities involving children and dogs was also outlined in the Council report dated June 2, 2020.”
Dogs can be frightening and are potentially dangerous. Also, not many parents wish their children to play in rock pools in which owners allow their dogs to splash and swim (even alongside the children of strangers) and which are subject to inflow from animal urine, plus wave and rain wash from faeces.
It is interesting that the Liberals put the desires of dog owners ahead of the safety of, and enjoyment by, families. And to do so, stooped to using deceitfully misleading information. It really speaks volumes. How can we trust them when they so grossly misrepresented facts, which they well know?
Centennial Park Covid-21 mutant virus
Dear James – During a stroll through Centennial Park I came across a frightening sight – yes, a monster mutant COVID-21 virus. I put on full protective clothing, placed a few on a park bench and took this photo. And, yes, looking up, there was a belfry of bats that are obviously responsible for this disaster.
Given the sensitive nature of the local princesses, how should this disaster be handled? Please keep this confidential until it can be resolved.
The Bondi Junction Bus Sewer
Dear Editor – Since the bus fatality adjacent to the Bondi Junction interchange there have been a number of letters to the editor on the subject of the appalling situation with this bus sewer through the Junction destroying the safety and amenity of our district centre.
As the author of The Beast article that addressed this very subject (A Sewer for Buses, The Beast, June 2018) I would like to respond to some of the issues raised in this correspondence.
In the March edition of The Beast, Norman of Bondi Junction asked whether the idea of a tunnel between the bus/rail interchange and Westfield was ever considered. This would clearly resolve the pedestrian and bus conflict for these users. Yes, Norman, it was considered. Westfield loved the idea and would’ve contributed to the cost for obvious reasons.
They actually build pedestrian tunnels and transport interchanges linking their developments in other world cities. The government committee that was responsible for the design and construction of the interchange rejected the idea. It was either too complex for them or the urban design implications were unacceptable. Putting people underground in an Australian district centre is a suboptimal solution, depriving the streets of vitality and the people of natural light and air.
The buses need to be removed from the streets of Bondi Junction where they pose danger to people and frankly make the centre ugly. There is a solution that requires visionary action which is outlined in my article. Basically it involves relocating the bus interchange to a new road deck parallel to the Syd Einfeld Drive above Grafton Street, accessed off the retail podium of Meriton above the station. Buses would be largely routed on the arterial road network around the Junction with ramps and signalised intersections connecting it to Syd Einfeld Drive. Passengers would have north facing harbour views and an easy and safer stroll to the mall and Westfield.
To realise this solution requires considerable leadership from Waverley Council and the local member, both of whom have been informed of such a scheme in the past. An alliance group of Transport for NSW, Council, Westfield and Meriton would drive it. Both commercial players could gain better foot traffic and potentially new development sites. A design competition for architects and traffic engineering consortia could be used to establish an exciting workable commercial design.
For too long Bondi Junction has been blighted by the bus sewer. Every user is aware of the considerable daily safety and amenity issues. Let’s have no more bus fatalities, accidents and near misses. The bus interchange is in the wrong position, but it can be moved. Let’s reclaim the streets and make the Junction an attractive and safe place to be. The people deserve it.
Build affordable housing, not luxury apartments
I agree with Duncan Horscroft (Council Calls for More Control Over Development, The Beast, March 2021) – we need more control over development. I’m currently living smack next door to a housing over-development in Ramsgate Avenue, Bondi.
Dreading the looming excavation for an underground carpark, my quality of life seems lost as the diggers, concrete-mixers, trucks, power tools and testosterone-fuelled band of labourers invade at 7am weekdays (where are the young women tradies? Not part of Scomo’s COVID recovery?)
Another single-storey family home near the beach destroyed and demolished. In its place a 3-4 storey multi-unit development is under construction, with a swimming pool but no open green space or landscaping (dude, it’s only a 2-minute walk to splash in the kiddie’s pool for free at North Bondi). More luxury apartments that most people can’t afford are being built – why?
The development will block the glorious morning sunlight I currently enjoy in my unit. And while the light is not ‘mine’, it’s certainly not the developer’s to steal from me, by the simple and cruel act of building too high.
It still shocks me that Waverley Council approved the build, with no modifications. Until we begin to see housing as home and shelter rather than an asset to trade with and build wealth, our Eastern Beaches will continue to be plagued and blighted by mega-developments that take many good things from the local neighbourhood.
Liberal Sex: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
In recent months the Liberal Party has been ridden with sex scandals of different kinds – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
The Good: a pork barrelling premier and her secret Wagga Wagga sex boy.
The Bad: before that we had a Liberal Party off-sider featuring high on conservatism and Christian values but the outspoken family-man – bad boy Barnaby Joyce – had secret sex with his secretary and even produced a love child.
Then, as so often with the Liberals, things soon turned ugly…
The Ugly: a Scomo staffer was [allegedly] raped by a Scomo minister at Parliament House, only a short distance away from Scomo’s office. Once the double-failed marketing manager – failure 1: Where the bloody hell are you? Failure 2: Hawaiian holiday during bushfire crisis – got into the mix, things got really ugly and the victim was blamed.
Yet there is good news for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. As long as Murdoch’s PR machine supports our valued (Christian values, please!) Liberal Party, re-election of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly should be assured.
Where are people’s manners?
Every day I walk to work from Clovelly to Waverley, granted not far, however I have a massive gripe about people’s lack of manners/etiquette regarding my daily journey. I walk along Arden Street and Macpherson Street on the footpaths and literally every time I pass people on the pathways with their dogs and kids (which we should be sharing as co-walkers) I’m pushed off and relegated to the dirt as people refuse to pull their dogs and kids in line and walk single file while walking past someone else.
This isn’t a biggy, I know, but if we can’t teach our kids the respect of co-sharing and being cordial for fear we may be putting them out so very slightly, then what hope do we have left? And it isn’t just dogs and kids either; it’s adult women exercising and refusing to move to let other people pass and share the walkways. It’s just plain bad manners, people, not to mention it’s ruining my shoes, especially when it’s wet! Rant over.
Three years ago, when we were in the process of being evicted from our homes in Eurimbla Avenue, Botany Street and Magill Street, Randwick, The Eurimbla Precinct History Association was formed in order to write a book to commemorate and record as much as possible of the long history and community spirit of this area.
We were so sad to leave as it is was a wonderful community – talking to neighbours in the street, children cycling up and down the footpath, parties at Christmas time under the reindeers, cricket in the street on a quiet Sunday afternoon with the Sulo bin as the wicket, community BBQs, afternoon teas… many of us have kept in touch.
More than 90 houses were demolished to make way for the expansion of the Prince of Wales Hospital. Some former residents have managed to stay within the local area, while others have moved further away. Some former residents have happily settled into their new homes and some have found it more difficult.
Remembering Eurimbla presents the fascinating early history of this historically significant area of Randwick, together with many interesting stories, anecdotes, mysteries and surprises, as well as memoirs and photographs from those who lived in this area. We hope that this book would be of interest to people wanting information on the early history of Randwick. The book is now available for purchase from eurimblaprecinct.com.au.
The Eurimbla Precinct History Association
by Michael L Parker
the tide is in
front channel’s full
my ears are full of hissing foam
it softens to thunder when I go under
the next wave is unbroken
I’m pushing backwards, upwards
my skull cracks the peak
a glass arc wraps around me, closing the view
sensation rises, it never fails
in the crashing, the ringing, small silences are hiding
a monotonous beauty,
so easy to love
it comes, again, and again
the static sounds pull my senses together
there are rituals on the beach, and in the water
our spirits bow to their source
at the edge of the ocean,
a clue to the eternal now