Wicked Campers’ smut slogans to be removed after mum’s online protest

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Wicked Campers' owner John Webb has promised to remove this slogan and others like it after a Sydney mum's petition went global.
Wicked Campers’ owner John Webb has promised to remove this slogan and others like it after a Sydney mum’s petition went global.

Australians must remain vigilant on community standards, says Catholic Youth Services director Bernard Toutounji, after public opinion forced Wicked Campers to promise to remove offensive slogans from its fleet of vans.

Mr Toutounji welcomed the apology from Wicked Campers owner John Webb to Sydney mother Paula Orbea, whose online petition demanding the removal of the tasteless slogans garnered more than 127,000 signatures in four days.

“The news of an apology from Wicked Campers has really been encouraging,” said Mr Toutounji, who has a four-month-old daughter.

“This victory should be a big encouragement to all people of good will to stand up and make their opinions heard. Especially in the age of social media it is easier than ever to garnish support and for even one person to push for big change.”

But the community must continue to demand higher standards, he said.

“The battle may have been won on this front but there will be a hundred other ‘Wicked Campers’ that come our way.

“We must be vigilant if not for us, for our children.”

The victory is a win for “people power”, said Ms Orbea, who started the online petition after her 11-year-old daughter saw a photo of a Wicked Campers van emblazoned with the slogan, ‘In every princess there’s a little slut who wants to try it just once’.

“Nothing has shifted them in the past. Complaints. Fines,” she wrote on Change.org, which hosted the petition.

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

Wicked Campers vowed to remove all misogynistic slogans from vans within six months.

“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 Change.org petition enabled me to actually make a difference and win change.”

Catholic Social Teaching scholar Sandie Cornish told The Catholic Weekly she “felt sick” when she saw a photo of the camper van at the centre of the petition.

She said the slogan was an example of the porn culture that “is so damaging to young girls”.

“The whole sexualisation of very young girls is such a pervasive thing in our culture that we need to be taking steps against it whenever we can.”

Wicked Campers “is probably always going to be one to push the margins of taste and decency”, Mr Toutounji said.

“But this has hopefully demonstrated to them that there still are some standards that society expects to be upheld and that includes very much the notion that women are never to be treated as objects.”

The victory should encourage people to speak out against offensive advertising and slogans in future, he said.

“I am hopeful that this movement is taken notice of by those who hold the power in politics and media.

“With every victory against indecency the next victory can become that bit easier.”