From little things, big things grow.
July 11, 2014
A few days ago, I went to pick up my 11 and 7 year old daughters from a holiday stint with my parents.
As we greeted each other with hugs, my 11 year old did not hesitate in telling me, with great concern, that she saw something terrible when she was in the car with my dad – a van that said something to the effect of all girls being sluts who want to try it just once.
I was stunned because only the day before I had put up images (again) of the type of messages that the car-hire business Wicked Campers revels in, on my social media pages – including (and especially) the one my daughter saw.
So it’s official – something I personally called out had encroached and touched my family directly.
I was livid and went to file a complaint on the Advertising Standards Bureau.
The first thing you have to do is check if there have already been complaints made and whether the Board has made any previous rulings. Unsurprisingly, the list of complaints is long for Wicked Campers with a variety of unsavoury slogans and advertisements, like the following:
Or there’s this sort of thing:
It appears the young, male, *haw-haw* demographic is well and truly being catered for; girls as sluts / women are nothing more than something to service males / guys with big cocks (to do what with, pray tell?)
The only problem is that it’s the everyday person that finds themselves face-to-face with these types of bulletin in the PUBLIC sphere, not the drivers themselves – that person merely announces their consent to what’s been spray painted on the back and ironically the only person who doesn’t see the moving billboard they’re driving around. Hilarious.
Step two was to file my complaint, as I didn’t see the slogan my daughter witnessed on the ASB list. There I hit a snag because I had to have seen it for myself, to be able to denounce them. I explained this to my daughter and she immediately sat up and said, “I’ll complain.”
And to be honest, I thought, ‘Why not?’
So she submitted it under her name and wrote as her reason for offence:
‘I am a little girl and I am not a slut.’
I’m proud of her.
I would like to now direct your attention to how a young male responded to my posting about this business on my Questions for Us Facebook page. You can see the full conversation there.
The usual waterfall of clichés start to roll off the tongue like honey:
* It’s just a joke;
* If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. (Which is actually my usual rule of thumb except when it’s in my face regardless of whether I bought it or not);
* I bet if it were about men we’d be all ‘feminists rule’;
* Comparisons that don’t compare (girl sluts and McDonald’s toys);
* Get out there and fight for something worth fighting for.
Suffice it to say I had a long conversation with this young man, reasoning that phrases like the one my daughter saw puts her and all girls in danger. He predictably responded that it’s not all men who would feel that way about women and girls and that the car rental business is not to blame for that.
Of course nobody ever says ALL MEN are a menace, but that Yes, All Women are at risk of harmful perspectives like these, crossing just one male’s mind – because it only takes ONE to enact those sentiments on an innocent girl.
Rolf Harris ring any bells?
I think ‘all princesses being sluts’, would have reflected his sentiments succinctly.
There are many ‘ground zeros’ in fighting what commences the chain of abhorrent perspectives and actions in people, and we can’t ignore them because in the eyes of most, it doesn’t equate to the fight against the femicide of girls in China and India, for example, or bringing the girls back from Nigeria (things I also fervidly fight for, of course).
I live here – in Australia – in a capitalist cesspool that will stop at nothing to make money. There are horrors occurring around the world which I passionately call out against, but the rape culture my daughters are about to enter, is the here and now – and it’s real.
We shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the so-called ‘little’ things because as Paul Kelly sang:
‘From little things, big things grow.’
Question #209: How can we fight the big things, if the little things prove too difficult?
It’s time to be Actionists, just like my daughter.
After quite the parley with this young man (which became more respectful as it progressed), I asked him where he (being smack-bang in the demographic he so eagerly defended) thought we should focus our energies to stop the perception of the hyper-sexualised youth and the halt of rape culture (which some slogans of this business purport), to which he answered the following:
He didn’t really answer my question and went straight for the overseas problem but appreciated his honesty in not knowing – which is generally the case with most people who start shouting objection to the calling out of bad actions.
‘Wicked Campers aren’t out to make women inferior.’
I respectfully, but wholeheartedly, disagree.
PS – I have started a Change.org petition to the founder of Wicked Campers;
Please sign if you are tired of being told what to ‘relax’ about.
>>> Sign Here