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November 30, 2021

Wicked Campers condemned in Senate

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The slogan on a Wicked Campers van that sparked an online petition and a unanimous motion of condemnation in the Senate. Photo supplied
The slogan on a Wicked Campers van that sparked an online petition and a unanimous motion of condemnation in the Senate. Photo supplied

Chris Dobney

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 Echonetdaily understands 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.

‘Insensitive nature’

The boss of the company has apologised for the slogan that began the campaign and has agreed those who find other slogans on his vans offensive should feel free to paint over.

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.

An offensive Wicked Campers slogan being painted over. The company's boss has approved the strategy. Photo Instagram
An offensive Wicked Campers slogan being painted over. The company’s boss has approved the strategy. Photo Instagram

‘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.”’

The image that targeted Byron Bay journalist Lucy Clark. Image supplied
The image that targeted Byron Bay journalist Lucy Clark. Image supplied

‘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.

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  1. The Wicked graffiti started out being attitude that was naughty but funny. Now it’s just plain ugly! Nothing funny in that!

  2. Have we become so narrow minded and politically focussed that we cannot see the humor?? I find the vans colourful, happy and funny and I don’t take any of what is written personally at all. Fair enough for Lucy, I don’t agree with targeting someone. But the others are just for laughs and the art work is quite good. See the vans for what they are.

  3. Looks like its open season for graffiti artists to paint over Wicked Vans whenever they see them in the street. Im all up for that. Will rid Byron of some of these terrible, ugly slogans and provide some cool artwork in its place.

  4. I was pleased to sign the change.org petition after being disgusted by a wicked Wicked van one too many times. When they started doing the slogans most of them were funny or clever but they’ve gone severely downhill. I can imagine their slogan writers competing to come up with the most appalling sexist or racist “slogan” with no concern whatsoever for people who have to walk or drive by them.I feel sorry for the hapless hirers and even more so now I know they can’t refuse the van they’ve been assigned. Painting over them sounds like an excelent plan, let’s get those graffiti taggers on to it!

  5. Change.org is a wonderful organization which everyone should join to have their say on issues like this. There is a lot of stuff going on that I like to vote on and this is one of them, and congrats to the people that take the time to post.

  6. What a relief the Wicked company have at last responded and done the right thing erasing (some?) of their abusive slogans because I imagine the next step would have been a direct action & reprisal spray-back campaign !

  7. Well done Paula in getting these inappropriate slogans off our streets & Lucy should have the support for legal compensation from Wicked Campers for such harassment & abuse.

    Who are these bogans who direct this company?
    And why is it that the removal of such atrocious slogans has been given 6 months? It should be effective immediately!

    Furthermore it begs the question “where’s the trusty minister for women’s affairs in all this?” You know, our outdated & insensitive primeminister Abbott? One would expect him to have led such a campaign on our behalf, had he any sensitivity & empathy for women’s affairs. I’ve not heard anything from him!! He’s supposed to be an authority on such insensitive abuse of us!! His noticeable by his neglect to protect us from such atrocities! I say he’s not fit to be head of women’s affairs & this is further proof!
    Not good enough.

  8. I agree with Tina, where is our minister for women’s affairs & why has he not said anything? Why have we to put up with these slogans for 6 more months?
    I don’t agree that this is PC gone mad nor that objecting constitutes one as narrow minded or a wowser. Intelligent slogans are amusing, misogynistic & racist ones are simply basal! Bogan slogans!
    But hey.. Great! I’ve got a cache of spray cans & I can paint so I’m going to go to town on all of them I see.

  9. People complain about free speech or whatever. But in a physical universe where there’s infinite scope for expression, why dumb down to banal crude mediocrity when there’s a choice of more expansive conscious expression? No wonder Australia has an international reputation for being a bunch of illiterate rednecks. I’m not saying it all has to be ballet, poetry and classical music. It’s simply about good taste and beauty. Led Zeppelin music might not be considered highbrow, but they are still an example of highly refined good taste and real Art. You can have it both ways. Some things are inherently non funny including misogyny and sexism.


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