In what is probably a first in Australian history, a Greens motion was unanimously passed in the Senate yesterday.
The motion put by Queensland Greens senator Larissa Waters condemning ‘the litany of sexist, misogynistic, and racist slogans which have been used by Wicked Campers on their hire vans’.
It further calls on Wicked Campers ‘to remove slogans which are sexist, misogynistic, or racist from their vans.’
The vans are popular with vanpackers travelling on the north coast and often those hiring the vehicles are not given an option of which van they would like to hire, even if they object to the slogan.
The Greens move followed a hugely successful change.org petition, which as of this morning had more than 127,000 signatories.
It was sparked by an 11-year-old girl who objected to the slogan, ‘In every princess, there’s a little slut who wants to try it just once,’ which she noticed painted on the back of a Wicked Camper van.
The boss of the company has apologised for the slogan that began the campaign and agreed many may find them offensive invited people to paint over them if they wanted to.
He added the company had committed to change slogans of an ‘insensitive nature’ on their vans within six months.
He also told those offended by a slogan the company would not object if they simply painted over it.
‘As is often quoted, “A sense of humour is a sense of proportion”,’ director John Webb told the ABC.
‘And in this instance, we admit that we have taken things out of proportion and out of the realms of what is considered to be “socially acceptable”.
‘It is impossible for us to conceive that a throw-away message written on a van could have such far-reaching implications for the community at large.’
But as of this morning, the company’s website was littered with pictures of vans carrying sexist slogans and the home page was still carrying a prominent image of an apparently three-breasted woman accompanying an advertisement for its, ‘breast price guarantee’.
In launching the petition, the girl’s mother, Paula Orbea wrote, ‘My daughter was upset by [the princess slogan] because she felt, as a girl, that the slogan was referring 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”,’ she added.
‘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,’ she wrote.
Byron Journalist ‘intimidated’ Ms Orbea is not the only person who has had a run-in with Wicked Campers over the content of their slogans.
A former Byron Bay-based journalist Lucy Clark, who now writes for online magazine Hoopla, says she was intimidated by a van slogan written ‘just for me’ following an article she wrote that was published in Brisbane’s Sunday Mail in 2008.
‘They painted a van with a special slogan, just for me, and sent it touring down to Byron Bay where I was living at the time. I never saw the van myself, just saw the photo a friend sent me,’ she wrote yesterday.
‘It said: “Dear Lucy, I can already imagine the gaffa tape on your mouth.”’
‘Yep, someone at Wicked Campers devised a message for me, threatening harm, and gave the go ahead for it to be painted it on the side of a van and then sent that van in my direction. Because I had taken exception to messages… being read by my kids,’ she wrote.
‘I was called a wowser, a prude, humourless, stupid… and a colourful array of other lovely epithets by readers, and that’s no big deal. It tends to happen when you write opinions one way or the other. But I do like to draw the line at orchestrated, menacing personal threats,’ Ms Clark wrote.
Senator Larissa Waters, who is the Australian Greens’ spokesperson for women, said the Senate motion sent ‘a strong message that promoting violence against women is completely unacceptable in Australian society’.
‘I’m pleased to hear that Wicked Campers have said they will remove the specific slogan that sparked on online petition signed by more than 120,000 people, and have committed to remove more of what they describe as “insensitive” slogans in coming months.
‘I wholeheartedly congratulate and thank Paula Orbea, who started the petition after her 11-year-old daughter read the slogan which incited sexual violence against women and girls.
‘Paula has shown that by calling out sexism and misogyny, we can put a stop to it, and change the culture that normalises and condones it.
‘These sexist slogans promote violence against women, which is sadly a massive problem in Australia.
‘One in every three Australian women over the age of 15 have experienced violence and one in every five have experienced sexual violence.
‘Most often women know their attacker, with one Australian woman a week killed by her partner or ex-partner.
‘Violence against women is certainly no laughing matter – it is a national emergency,’ Senator Waters said.