Archive for 22 July 2014

People power trumps vile sexism any day!

22 July 2014 1 comment




Sydney school teacher, Paula Orbea,  started a petition on against Wicked Campers whose campervans were often daubed with sexist, racist, and homophobic slogans. The same camper-vans are present in New Zealand, as well as Australia;


camper 1


Ms Orbea began the campaign when her  11 year old daughter read the slogan;

‘In every princess, there’s a little slut who wants to try it just once’ 

– on the back of one of the campervans. (See above)

On the petition page, Ms Orbea said,

“This is the only way I can explain how offensive it is. 

When one reads such a slogan, the same thing happens to every person who understands it – which my 11 yr old did – we picture it. This business, makes us picture that and many other degrading things.

You can either gain pleasure from this image or disgust.  Those who gain pleasure are the problem – yet they have a platform to spread their vile perspectives.

My daughter was upset by this because she felt, as a girl, that the slogan was refering to her and it made her fear being perceived that way – especially by someone she may cross paths with who may agree with that perspective. 

This particular phrase promotes paedophilia and resonates very badly with everyone who thinks it’s abhorrent to sexually assault a girl, especially by groomed males who think ‘she wants it’. 

Slogans such as this ring too familiar to real life atrocities, such as the recent discovery of Rolf Harris’s sexual assaults; enacting on a girl as young as eight.”



camper 2



She said,

“It is inconceivable that Wicked Campers choose to not only write the misogynistic ‘joke’ but also then publicise it through their moving, billboard vans.

Disgustingly they have also promoted that, ‘Fat girls are harder to kidnap.’

Shame on them.

Adult females are also degraded into sexual objectification and disrespect – with slogans on show for people of all ages to indiscriminately see and absorb.”



camper 3


This business (amongst many others) thrives on pleasing a small demographic of people, who find it funny to mock those who may be living the horrible realities perspectives such as these manifest. 

But we are the majority, not them. Enough.

It is time to say enough – with calm, intelligent but firm resolve. 

We must become Actionists – by looking at the action that is being performed, (regardless of gender), deciding whether it’s good for us as a species and calling it out if it isn’t; demand change. 

This is not good. I’m calling it out.”



camper 4


In February last year (2013), columnist Clem Bastow wrote in the Australian Daily Life, calling for a boycott on what she kindly referred to as “misogyny-’n’-racism on wheels“. Ms Bastow wrote,

Look, I’m sorry, I thought it was 2013? Does nobody else have a problem with these bombs dragging their Wake In Fright-era sexual politics around the country (and, indeed, the world)?

This probably all sounds like shouting into a drain – after all, judging by the tone that appears to be Wicked’s company policy, they’d probably just tell me I need a good root; here’s one such example of an official response to one woman who dared to raise some concerns. (Sorry to rain on your comeback parade dudes, but I’m probably getting more action than anyone who rocks up in one of your grody vans.)

And yes, in some ways, there’s likely no point in making a complaint the next time you see a braindead sexist Wicked slogan in your rearview mirror. Instead, vote with your wallet: go to another hire company, because cheap rates or not, supporting a company that degrades women just so a few dropkicks can have a laugh with their tinnies on a camping trip isn’t worth saving a few measly dollars.





Earlier this year, here in New Zealand, Wicked Campers attracted the attention of Lyttelton  sailing instructor, Dudley Jackson, after one of their  vans was spotted with the message, “Go fuck yourself”;


camper 13



The Press reported,

“Mr  Jackson said he emailed the company to ask whether they thought it was a “suitable” message to be presented to the public, but he had not had a response.  “


camper 6


In 2010, after the slogan “If you love me, you would swallow it” appeared on the back of a van, a complaint was laid with the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority. Consequently, the ASA unanimously ruled that “the advert was likely to cause serious and widespread offence“.



camper 7


The same Press story reported,

“In April last year, Queenstown police began an investigation into a sexually suggestive picture on a Wicked van featuring Gangnam Style singer Psy next to the message “Up the bum no babies”.

The company defended the picture and writing on the campervan, saying it depicted people who were “just dancing”. Police decided the artwork was not offensive enough to warrant further action. “

You have to wonder how sexually explicit an image, in full public view of minors, has to be before the police decide to to take action?


camper 8


This van (below) most likely is not geared for the Japanese tourist market;


camper 9


Nor is this one (below) designed to attract the married women demographic;


camper 10


But as Clem Bastow wrote (in the Australian Daily Life), Wicked Camper’s clients are generally of a  young, unaware,  “blokey” persuasion;

“It’s easy to assume that the only people who’d hire a Wicked Camper would be either desperate German tourists or dreadlocked “dudes” who like to play the same four bars of a Jack Johnson song for five hours every night (or bros like this), but evidently plenty of women think the company’s misogyny-’n’-racism on wheels shtick is “awesome” – at least according to a casual perusal of Wicked’s Facebook page.”

So why not alienate 51% of your potential client-base, huh?

Like this one, obviously geared toward satisfying the market for up-and-coming rapists and abusers of women;


camper 11


The rape-culture on wheels…

But people were not prepared to take Wicked Campers’ grubby messages lying down.

One artist, Stef Burgon, used her own artistic skills to paint over one of Wicked Camper’s juvenile slogans, and replaced it with something a whole lot more thoughtful;



camper 14



Meanwhile, Ms Orbea  announced that her on-line petition had succeeded in attracting over 120,000 signatures and forced Wicked Campers into a massive back-down;

We’ve just won! Wicked Campers have apologised, and committed to removing all misogynistic slogans from their vans within six months.

Nothing has shifted them in the past. Complaints. Fines.

But after initially responding to the petition saying they “didn’t care about the uproar” – after your massive support for my petition, they’ve apologised and will re-spray the offensive, sexist vans.

This was a people power win. Starting my petition worked just as it intended, with more than 120,000 of you signing within just four days! We were featured everywhere – ABC News, The Project,, Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Mamamia, Buzzfeed, and heaps, heaps more.

The kind of sexism and misogyny on those Wicked Campers vans isn’t trivial – it’s degrading to women, harmful for our children to consume, and condones a rape culture that sees one-in-three Australian women sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.

I’m so proud and pleased my daughter said something, and that together we stood up against it.

It’s important that we call out sexism wherever it exists – and my petition enabled me to actually make a difference and win change.”

Good on you, Ms Orbea.

Because here is the thing that I would point out to Wicked Camper founder, Brisbane mechanic John Webb, and other proponants of what they think is “free speech”;

  1. Free speech is fine and dandy – but just because you can say a thing, doesn’t always mean you should. With freedom comes responsibility and self-discipline (or at least, that’s the theory.)
  2. This is not about attacking freedom of speech. This is about rejecting what is being said with that free speech. In other words, Mr Webb, you can say it – but we don’t have to accept it. And we’ll tell you that. Because free speech cuts both ways.
  3. People who want to be vile and obnoxious can do so. But the corollary is we don’t have to see it. Keep it in your own home. Or garage. Or better still, your own head.

Ms Orbea and 120,000 others showed that we don’t have to put up with the smug, arrogant half-wits for whom sexism, racism, and homophobia is a schoolyard joke.  We don’t have to be dragged down to their lowest common denominator.

Sexism and it’s progeny, the rape culture, are just not funny.


Next: Message to TV3 execs – Is this really acceptable?




Change.Org:  Eliminate misogynistic and degrading slogans and imagery

Daily Life: Why women should boycott Wicked Campervans

The Press: Wicked Campers graffiti offends Artist Stef Burgon takes on Wicked Campers, paints her own slogan People-power win after Sydney teacher Paula Orbea launches petition against ‘misogynistic and degrading slogans’ on Wicked Campers vans





david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 July 2014.



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