My daughter thanks you too.

July 18, 2014

To begin I would like to express my awe at the overwhelming and resolute support I received during the last six days, due to the petition I initiated. I am truly humbled.
I want to quickly address a few points, as I need to sit down and have a moment of normalcy again. The last six days have been a surreal mix of many emotions.

I started the petition for one reason only – to remove slogans, like the one that upset my 11 year old daughter, from the outside of Wicked Camper vans.
And they have complied.
Have they had a change of heart? Well, that remains to be seen.
But, as I wrote in my penultimate post – we must judge people on their actions.

Only time will tell – so give them time.

Under the law of Freedom of Speech, Wicked Campers are not obliged to take down any of their signage – which is why they had chosen to continue practising as they were, despite numerous attempts from the Advertising Standards Board to have offensive slogans, deemed to have crossed ethical and community standards, removed.

But this wasn’t about the law – it was about the standards we hold as human beings.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 5.45.04 pm

Thanks to the staggering amount of people who supported this campaign – 127 752 signatures – in such a concentrated amount of time, we were able to send a clear message that this sort of signage was in fact not a standard we were willing to accept.

* For the clichéd response telling me (us) to ‘not buy it if we don’t like it’; I answer you with the fact that the ONLY person who doesn’t see the signage, is the driver him/herself – it’s the public that has it rammed in their face, regardless.

* For those who have said there are far more important issues to fight for – like the horror in the Gaza strip (for example) and where the petition for that is; I answer you in two ways.

Firstly, calling out misogyny is a paramount issue to fight.
Females around the planet are being sexually assaulted and murdered for the simple fact that they are female. This wouldn’t be happening if they were respected. One woman a week dies from Domestic Violence in Australia and a slogan that says ‘a wife is attachment you screw on the bed to do the housework’ degrades females to nothing more than that and it is hateful.

I also believe many slogans demean males too. Grooming males to believe they’re mindless and sex-obssesed, do no favours to our boys and, in turn, our girls. Slogans such as the following are disturbing – both the visual and what it’s saying:

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We would never see, ‘We’re here for your sons’ because we all know what the slogan above means.

Secondly, if one feels that there are issues out there worth fighting for and that a petition will do something, then by all means, create one.
I found it incredible that people provided me with a list of issues I *should* be fighting for – basically saying I shouldn’t be bothering with my daughter’s emotional response to the slogan she saw, but rather appease strangers and their vocal outrage that I had the gall to do it over other issues.
To you I say – Do something about it yourself. I did this for my daughter.

* To all those who said I gave Wicked Campers free advertising, I say to you that it is an irrelevant argument.
My motives never were, nor do they continue to be, about bringing down Wicked Campers – it was to remove certain morally offensive slogans. In fact, if this petition causes the company to reevaluate their business model to better fit the ethical standards of society – well, wouldn’t that be the best victory of all?

Only three days after releasing the petition I received a personal email from Ross, a representative for Wicked Campers, apologising to my daughter and myself. He wrote:

I wish to commend you on your campaign, I believe you’ve carried yourself with poise and intellect and kept your side of the discussion civilised (where others have resorted to physical threats)

I would like to say at this point, that anyone who writes to someone, saying they wish to incite violence against them (or anyone for that matter), is abhorrent and goes against the spirit of this petition.
I have also received graphically violent death threats due to this stance and it’s quite distressing and completely unnecessary. Noone deserves that.

Wicked Campers also included the following press release; sections which have now been used in a number of articles outlining the commitment they are making to do as the petition asked. This is the full statement:

Statement: John Webb on behalf of Wicked Campers Australia

First and foremost, we sincerely apologise for any distress that has been caused.

Anybody who is familiar with our brand would probably know that we are strong proponents of free speech and pushing the limits of humour – we are a ‘cash for chaos’ kind of company.
As is often quoted ‘A sense of humour is a sense of proportion’. 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’.

We are a small company, with eclectic, creative and multi-cultural staff. 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.

Over the past few years Wicked has supported numerous charity endeavours including:

Free hires for Returned Servicemen & Servicewomen (2011 – 2013)

A Mardi Gras float for the Metropolitan Christian Church Sydney to promote social & religious acceptance of homosexuality in the community (2014)

Support for the ‘Free to be Kids’ Charity, whose goal is to facilitate child centered community development in Kolkata with the aim of improving the community’s capacity to protect children. Wicked Campers have donated over $70,000 to this organisation in the hope of improving the welfare of children in India (2012 – 2013).

Wicked Campers Owner, John Webb wishes to acknowledge the prevailing community opinion by REMOVING the slogan in question and making a commitment over the coming six months to changing slogans of an insensitive nature. Bear in mind however, many of the images presented in the media of our vehicles are from up to 8 years ago, and the vehicles simply do not exist anymore.

In the spirit of being ‘actionist’, Wicked Campers also invites anybody who feels strongly offended by a slogan to either paint or tape over it.

Mr Webb implores everyone to also focus their passions and energies on a worthy cause such as funding for women’s refuges and shelters around Australia.

“If everyone who signs this petition were to donate to a worthy charity – even just $10, we’d be closer to achieving something truly positive from this campaign.

It is easy to get caught up in the news cycle and the mob-mentality of the internet, but the fact remains, the world’s problems will still exist next week, long after this has blown over. Don’t forget the cause – it’s still there, hidden amongst the memes and useless drivel that pops up in your feed.

We’ve given and we will continue to give – so if you give to a women’s refuge or charity this week, send us the receipt and we’ll write you a personal apology for any offense that has been caused”.

Wicked Campers would also like to commend all petition signers for their passion and commitment to the cause – and their openness to actively working with us towards a compromise. Again, we apologise for any distress that has been caused.

For receipts for donations made, please email: marketing@wickedcampers.com
Many thanks

John Webb
Owner – Wicked Campers

Lastly, what is very important to note, is that this victory happened because ultimately, my daughter and I were respected throughout this journey – by everyone; the populous that cared more than it didn’t and joined the fight; the reporters – ALL of them (I thank you all for that, I still feel honoured to be asked); to being listened to by the business itself and even had a motion passed in the Senate.
In four and a half days.

We just achieved a really good thing. We stood up for a better standard.

My daughter is so happy…in her 11 year old way.

Thank you everyone. Thank you very much.

Deep Breath

 

11 Responses to “My daughter thanks you too.”

  1. firewomon said

    A huge ‘well done’, both to you and your daughter. Slogans such as these have no place in a society which values women and girls as much as it does men and boys.

    Misogynists always argue that feminists have ‘better’ things to fight (than whatever our current fight may be). This is just a silencing tactic designed to undermine. There are many fights that we as feminists have on our hands – and, as we always say, we are perfectly able to cope with several fights at the same time!

    Well done again ❤

  2. Verina said

    I will keep my reply short
    I am proud and honoured to call you a FB friend and to work along side you as an activist and fellow warrior. I continue to learn from you and to be inspired, encouraged and emboldened by you. I look forward to continuing to work with you in this important and vital work
    Thank you!!

    • The honour is mine.
      We have our differences in beliefs and we may differ in opinion in some areas – but we have ALWAYS respected each other’s opinion and listened. And fought side by side.
      I have always loved that about all the women I’ve met along the way. xx
      Thanks Verina
      xx

  3. katedrury said

    I couldn’t put it any better than Verina just did so I will add a hear hear and a Very Well Done Paula!! You really are an inspiration to so many of us.

  4. afeministmother said

    It was wonderful watching the success that you and your daughter had. It was a topic of converstaion at our dinner table. Well done Paula! You have made a difference, challenging misogyny and working against the culture that enables and excuses violence against women and girls, and boys. xxx

  5. Kat said

    Congratulations in what I’m sure you perceive as a great victory for the evolution of the human race. Hopefully, as your child gets older, you can instill in her the understanding that we are completely capable of choosing how we feel and react to things instead of simply being emotionally reactional to what we see or hear. Too many people spend their whole lives relying on the squeaky wheel methodology to remove from society anything that they have personally chosen to take offense to instead of teaching themselves that they are ultimately in charge of their own feelings and emotions and are not at the whim of whatever they happen to read or see.

    Which do you think makes a better, stronger human being? One who is at the whim of whatever they happen to be influenced by or one who only reacts to things in the way they have chosen to?

    • You don’t know me, yet your first sentence drips of contempt. But I’ll respond anyway.
      My 11 year old reacted negatively to something that crossed the line. Many, many agreed (including the company itself). She responded maturely by complaining to the Advertising Standards Board to something that was truly offensive. The word SLUT is offensive.
      I never did anything except support my daughter and teach her that sometimes one needs to speak out; not continuously turn the other cheek so that the select few have their ‘rights’ intact and to not upset *them*.
      I am humbled by the response as I never imagined it would reach the level it did, but that only demonstrated that most agreed it was ethically wrong.
      I think my daughter has learned a fantastic lesson. She is no shrinking violet and she’s only 11.
      Good bye.

  6. godtisx said

    The Kats of the world are in a bubble shrug it off. It’s noise.

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