B.U.G.A.  U.P.
Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Promotions

May 2023

Yuk Macho Crap

Channel 10 Offensive Billboards promoting Monday Night Live League Football

During 1984 Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Promotions, or�B.U.G.A.U.P. had run a campaign refacing the Kayser Perfect Bodies Billboard, of scantily clad sexualised images of women, with the Pervert Billboard. Sexism in advertising was a hotly contested political issue at the time. Women's bodies were used to sell clothing, cigarettes, and all sorts of consumer goods, while men's idealised bodies, like the hulk footballer, promoted a hetero-normative hegemonic masculinity, characterised by an exaggerated physicality and brute strength. Sexist advertising reproduced gendered stereotypes of women as weak and men as all powerful.

In the same year, I moved to Sydney where I acquired my first academic job as a tutor in the Department of Industrial Relations at the University of NSW. While at UNSW I met Wendy, the then Editor of Tharunka a UNSW student newspaper and Di, a Phd student at Macquarie University. Wendy went on to have an outstanding career in investigative journalism at the ABC as an Executive Producer of Background Briefing. Regrettably Di struggled with depression and took her own life in 1986. Both are pictured in the photo of the billboard "Yuk macho crap".

Billboard_Tooheys_Macho_CrapDuring 1985 in Inner West Sydney, a loose knit group of feminists, including myself, Wendy and Di, took delight in buggering up the Channel 10 billboards promoting Monday Night Live League Football. The billboard image depicted a hulk type cartoon character with bulging muscles, six pack pecs and clasping a football. The gigantic phallic symbol of hegemonic masculinity became a beacon for B.U.G.A.U.P. supporters like us, a loose knit movement of protestors. We soon noticed others (who we didn't know) joining in the campaign to deface these sexist billboards. Our campaign targeting the Hulk footballer was a similar strategy aimed at directing attention to sexism in sports advertising.

Around once a week we would meet at dusk, put the ladder on my roof racks and check whether the billboard we buggered up last week had been replaced. If it had, we would again graffiti the ad. Being pregnant at the time with my first child, I couldn't use the ladder, so my job was as a look out for roaming police. After a few months Channel 10 stopped replacing the Hulk billboards. A small victory against rampant sexism in advertising, but a victory nonetheless.