To Year 12…

October 14, 2017

A few weeks ago, I was the guest speaker at a Yr 12 Final Assembly. A Drama teacher friend of mine, and this particular cohort’s Year Adviser, had asked me if I would give them a little sending off pep-talk. I was really chuffed to have been asked. So I wrote the following speech thinking of every student about to sit their HSC (or equivalent examination across Australia), regardless of what school they’re at. I wanted to share it with you; hope it resonates.
Paula x

Yr 12 Graduation speech

Hello Year 12. Well, you’re nearly there! Now that’s a phrase that has probably been uttered a few times of late or circling through your mind. Nearly there – there’s a solid, weighty truth to it and you may have a slight tug-of-war going on inside; a mixture of excitement to be out of the educational walls that have been nurturing you for the last 13 years and the fear of heading toward the unclear great beyond. And yes, it is unclear, but only insomuch as it’s not specific and thank goodness for that. How rigid would your choices be if everything were mapped out for you?
So I’m here to ask one main question for you to ponder:

What space are you going to fill in this complex world of ours?

Because we all DO have a space to fill – it’s nature; it’s balance; it’s important. The trick is to get on that path; but therein lies the conundrum, where one starts to question – what am I good at? What is this word ‘passion’ that keeps getting thrown around?

Now here is where we start to say, ‘I’m just a….’ We stick that ‘just’ there to diminish our abilities because we feel they don’t stack up to some idealised, limited vision our culture has thrust upon us. But I’m here to say that you must break free of those shackles because this world needs a spectrum of people with talents and drive to fill all the pockets and crevices of our world.

So who am I? My name is Paula and I, in my 47 years of existence, have added a few ‘justs’ to my collection of living:

* I’m just a high school Drama teacher of 20 years (A fair chunk of English too)

* Just a mother (of two daughters)

* About 5 years ago I discovered I was just a blog writer. I’ve stopped now but funnily enough I still say JUST even though I had 15 of my posts published by the Opera House on their Ideas at House site a few years back.

* I just got 350 out of 500 for my HSC back in 1987 (yes 30 years and I’m currently organising our reunion) and that mark was OK. Nothing fantabulous but not bad. You should know that the road to being a writer – as well as becoming an English teacher – was a challenging one because I was a baby when my parents and I fled the dictatorship in Uruguay and therefore growing up, I only spoke Spanish at home. I’ll tell you one thing, I NEVER imagined I’d do either of those things when I was sitting where you are today; or any of what was to come really.

Now none of these space fillers got handed to me on a sheet when I finished high school, they just unraveled as I participated. That’s the key word – PARTICIPATE – take action. As I plodded along, full of deep insecurities over what lay ahead for me, I found that walking in the general direction of what I wanted to do meant that opportunities arose that I was simply lucky enough to be in the general vicinity of – not somewhere else trying to please another set of people.

But let me make something very clear – not everything we want comes just because we want it to, but when you work hard at something that you’re proud of, someone always notices. Keep that in mind.

So what space are you going to fill?

Over three years ago, I became an activist. I had been doing a lot of writing about things I saw as being unjust on a blog but it wasn’t until a particular business came into our lives that it catapulted me into the label – activist.

The business is called Wicked Campers and they have vans for hire, popular with backpackers, with graffiti type images on the side and a slogan on the back for all to read. On a day in the July school holidays 2014, my daughter (then only 11) saw a Wicked van and its slogan whilst visiting the Blue Mountains with my parents. I was not with them. When I picked her up, the first thing she told me was what she had read and how it affected her. I was livid because the slogan was so bad, I can’t repeat it here today.

But this is when ‘Just Paula’ took a stand – I started a petition asking Wicked to take down any degrading and sexist slogans or imagery. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the numbers a petition can get but they may get a few thousand in a few weeks, but mine got 127, 000+ votes in four days. I was interviewed on about 15 radio shows, including Triple J Hack (twice now) and appeared on The Project. 133 articles were written globally, including The Huffington Post.

An awesome thing that came out of this was that Greens Senator Larissa Waters brought up a motion in The Senate to condemn Wicked Campers and there was – for the first time in a long, long time – a unanimous vote in The Senate that day. I also got an incredible, incredible amount of support from people far and wide.

A not so awesome thing that happened was that I received some death threats, hate emails and one guy in Queensland thought he’d make a ‘Wanted’ poster of me on FB and said I needed to be taught a lesson.

Wicked Campers agreed to my take down all their worst slogans within the following 6 months – but they lied. The only one they changed was the one my daughter saw. Funnily enough they changed it to ‘If only Noah had swatted those two mosquitoes’ and as Wicked had a history of using their vans to threaten people directly – like when journalist Lucy Clark wrote an unfavourable article about them, they wrote on a van with Dear Lucy, I can already imagine the gaffa tape on your mouth – I took that slogan to mean that my daughter and I were the mosquitoes. That’s OK, I thought, I can live with that because as an African proverb says – If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito; so that’s what I became.

It was a hard slog, but this year in March – after three years of continuing to fight – writing and speaking to the Advertising Standards Bureau, Government leaders, Australian Censorship Board; hitting social media and garnering the pivotal help from three incredible women – the QLD government changed legislation (followed by Tasmania) to cover the loophole and hold Wicked Campers accountable for those slogans that are, by the way, prohibited from going up on a billboard or an ad.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I’ve always seen myself as Just Paula. But I’m not – I’m much more. In 20 years of being a teacher, 14 years of being a mother and 5 years of being an activist – I have some expertise up my sleeve and I want to express to you an important point, this next step for you is not JUST about marks – the question is: what are you going to do with what you’ve learned? From both inside the classroom and especially outside of it.

One thing is for sure, you’re going to have to be brave – brave when stepping in the direction that feels right for you but not for others and brave when bucking the system when it is unfair – and there are no marks that cover that. Your character and gumption are going to be your armour.

I’ll leave it there but I want to say that you are our future and when life gets tough – and it will – remember that when you walk steadfast toward the horizon, it never gets closer, it always stays the same distance away. But when you look back, you can see how far you’ve come.

Deep Breath;

So what space are you going to fill?

Thank you.


I’ll leave you with the wise words of Yoda (words I have on the cover of my mark book at school):

It is coming up on two years this July since Wicked Campers – and consequently its deeply disappointing owner, John Webb – entered my family sphere directly; through my then 11 year old daughter; with one of their worst van slogans.

If you believe this is a small issue, I emphatically disagree.  As human beings, we should be looking at the patterns occurring within our current existence; to then evaluate for best forward action.  This is my understanding of critical thinking.
In an ever more toxic climate, where politicians keep coughing up terms like, Domestic Violence or Alcohol Related Violence, speaking of the social emergency surrounding these issues; and expressing apparent heartfelt pleas of Creating Change – what better test case is there today to show that no change is happening at all, than Wicked Campers.
But words are unequivocally Not. Enough.
Change from our leaders must come through their ACTION and this has not been the case with a simple business like Wicked, which not only degrades women and girls but promote drug and alcohol use – sometimes using children’s cartoon characters to communicate that – whilst also passive aggressively pushing their gutter sexual perspectives publicly.

In short, John Webb – is a bully.
We are always speaking about bullies in schools and how to deal with them – funny how this bully seems to be pushing his toxic perspectives around without so much as a fine. Not even that.

Basically the rundown of this Wicked ‘journey’ has been like this:

  • My daughter saw ‘the slogan’ in July 2014 + I did the petition; it all went global and fast.
  • Wicked called ‘uncle’ three days after the petition started (got 127000+ signatures in 4 days), covered the offending slogan and said they’d cover any other ‘insensitive ones’ (their words) over the following 6 months.
  • On the fourth day, Greens Senator Larissa Waters took the issue to The Senate, where they were unanimously condemned. Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson said it was free speech. Yet NO OTHER PLATFORM is lawfully allowed that free speech – not on a billboard, not in an ad – so why is John Webb afforded this luxury?

The thing is – they did not respray any other vans besides the one my daughter saw. They are a company – particularly its owner John Webb – with no integrity, not only was a promise broken, the slogans have worsened in some cases.

  • When the six months were up – mid Jan 2015 – I released the post, Literally Wicked. Campers still offend., which is still being updated by me (even today), as the public continue to send through images from our Australian roads. Please note the promise that John Webb made at the start of the post.
  • Unfortunately, seeing as it was considered ‘old news’, the media outlets that hounded me six months earlier were disinterested to pursue the fact that John Webb lied and has consequently continued to cash in on the indifference of our culture. This has meant that it’s only been recently that some people – including reporters – have been enlightened to the fact that Wicked did not follow through on their promise and essentially put the whole issue back to square one.

I have been a high school teacher for 20 years and started a business providing media literacy workshops using critical thinking, with high school students. One of the main points I stress is how our brains are forced to continually ‘take pictures’, through the bombardment of both images and words.
I also show them that the way women and girls – females – are represented, is nothing short of useless – mainly objectified. What are we good for in our representation?
When women and girls are not represented to be more than visual and sexual objects to be assessed and used, it’s little surprise that a culture of males show contempt and disrespect toward females; that emergency climate we keep talking about.

The Federal Government is currently showing the following ad about Violence against Women, which talks of ‘Respect’ and the fact that we have to ‘Stop it at the Start’.

Following is a list of van slogans that have been on the streets of Australia (a few from NZ) since Wicked Campers reneged on their promise. Please think of the word ‘Respect’ for women and girls as you read these:

Don’t die a virgin, terrorists are up there waiting for you
She can’t wrestle, but you should see her box
Legs are a girl’s best friend, but even the best of friends must part
Save water…take a shower with your neighbour’s daughter
Bukkake ruined my carpet
A blowjob a day keeps the breakup away
I ate so much pussy in those days, my beard looked like a glazed donut
Virginity is curable / She wants my brick (Hypersexualised LEGO figures)
Pussy; taste the difference (Pepsi Logo)
Fat chicks are harder to kidnap
I’ve often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can’t get my wife to go swimming (NZ)
Life sucks if your girlfriend doesn’t
My cock just died, can I bury it in your backyard?
Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere
Your thighs won’t touch if my head’s between them (bare breasted woman on the side)
OMG my pussy needs recovery but I still want more
Boobs prove men can concentrate on two things at once
To all virgins, thanks for nothing
If a dog sniffs you’re (sic) arse, then you’re probably a bitch
Everyone feels the cold except Polar Bears and Hookers
It makes my heart race when you sit on my face
What do you put in your mouth but don’t swallow
Honk if you want to be dipped in chocolate and thrown to the lesbians
A blowjob a day beats an apple
We only break for pussy
Women fake orgasms because they think men care
OMG Barbie’s a slut
Hurricanes are like women – when they come they’re wet and wild; when they leave they take your house and car
A blowjob is a great last minute gift
I used to be a veterinarian and drive like an animal, now I’m a gynaecologist…
A man would be interested in a woman’s mind, if it bounced gently as she walked (NZ)

And there are many more. Many more.
These have no place in the public sphere. They titillate and feed an already hyper sexualised world and contributes to the desensitising and normalisation that this – as human beings – is all we’re about. I beg to differ.

So where are we now?

Since Wicked Campers reneged on their promise there has been a lot of action and today there is quite a bit of momentum.

  • A feminist activist group of Brisbane women called Wicked Pickets formed in July 2014, inspired by my petition. They have written to every QLD MP, including all Cabinet Ministers, asking them to act against the blatant misogyny of the WC slogans and have held numerous rallies against Wicked Campers in Brisbane – Wicked Campers HQ city. In July 2015, I flew up to Brisbane to speak at one of these rallies, where we marched and presented signatures to QLD Senator Claire Moore, a supporter of the cause, asking the Government to provide protections to vilification against women and girls in the same way they provide it to other groups based on race, religion, sexuality and gender identity. They have spoken at community and union events, and met with the QLD Anti Discrimination Commissioner. QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Federal Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash have also received correspondence and signatures from Wicked Pickets. They have been very active.
  • Parent Christine King, who found herself and her children, confronted with an offensive van in late 2014, started her own campaign; tirelessly writing to Attorney-Generals, MPs, Police Commissioners, Camping Organisations, Mayors looking at bylaws to see Wicked Campers held accountable. She has secured a meeting with the QLD Attorney-General, Yvette D’Ath this week (April 7) and needs signatures on her petition to Ms D’Ath, to back up her amazing submission. Her petition is much more important than mine was because mine was addressed to a liar, but hers is aimed at people who can make legislative change.
    Please sign this important petition here.
  • 2015 – I wrote to the companies that I saw had their logo used by Wicked; The Wiggles (who are represented as stoned), Pepsi, LEGO and Mattel. They all said they passed it onto their legal teams but weren’t sure if anything could be done. Just recently, however, an NZ Federal MP seems to have flagged their attention. Fingers crossed.
  • In mid-2015, I had a meeting with the Federal Shadow Communications Minister, Jason Clare, who then arranged to meet with the Advertising Standards Bureau head, Fiona Jolly, to discuss possibilities of giving the ASB the power in fine businesses, like Wicked Campers, who have been found in breech of Community Standards, but do not take the offending slogans or images down. Ultimately, however, Jason could only forward recommendations and I appreciate the fact he investigated the options.
  • Also in mid-2015, a concerned citizen, Verina Green, presented a question to Malcolm Turnbull (when Communications Minister) on Our Say, where she also highlighted the fact that the Advertising Standards Bureau was a relative ‘toothless tiger’ when it came to enforcing those who breech standards. He promised to take a look at it. He then became PM.
  • A great success occurred when in April 2015, Coralie Alison of Collective Shout, wrote a simple tweet to Lonely Planet, asking them why they promote Wicked Campers. I backed her up and sent them the link (above) with the evidence of the vans that were still on our roads – and Lonely Planet DROPPED THEM from both their Australian and New Zealand publications. All from such a simple but effective action from Coralie.
  • In March this year, New Zealand  have taken some great action! Wicked Campers have been dumped from the Department of Conservation’s tourist information listing for those wanting to hire camper vans. Ministers – led by associate tourism minister Paula Bennett – are searching for ways to pressure the company into dropping the slogans.
  • Not just one but TWO New Zealand campsites have banned Wicked Camper vans from their sites regardless of slogan. Wicked have had more than enough time to rectify this situation. I only wish Australian campsites would follow their lead.
    ** Addition 7 April 2016: A very exciting development; Queenstown NZ council are going to start issuing fines. Article: ‘Council regulatory boss Lee Webster says: “We disagree so when we have evidence of a sign-written camper that we believe is sexually explicit, lewd or otherwise offensive, we will issue a $300 infringement.’
  • I wrote to the NSW Premier Mike Baird and received an automated response, saying it was a Federal issue – even though not outlined how – a quickly passed the hot potato.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 8.27.03 pm

  • Last week I wrote to the Australian Censorship Board asking whether we could follow New Zealand’s lead; whose Chief Censor is investigating whether the Wicked Camper slogans can be classified as ‘publications’. I am still awaiting their response, although the form stipulated it may take time.
  • **Addition: 13 April – Here is the ACB’s response:

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 12.05.20 pm

  • **Addition: 5 April – I wrote to the new(ish) Federal Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield, asking for assistance with this issue.
  • **Addition: 9 May – here is part of the letter from the Minister’s office. Please note the circular argument we always receive; ‘Please complain to the ASB as they are in charge of this, but have no power to have the slogans removed. if lots of people do what Wicked do, then we’ll consider taking action.’
    The frustration I’m feeling is palpable.

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 12.06.30 pm

The letter finished there – so, in a nutshell, Wicked Campers are unique and therefore not worth the effort of changing legislation to have their worst slogans removed, let alone having John Webb pay any sort of fine, according to the office of our Federal Minister of Communications.

Which brings us to today.

We’re back in Australia – Byron Bay; a Wicked Campervan hot spot – and a few days ago, on the 1 April, grandfather Paul McCarthy saw the slogan; A blowjob a day beats an apple. He snapped and sprayed over the word ‘blow’.

It is VERY important to note that John Webb – in his original apology to me and media release, clearly stated that people could feel free to spray over or cover any slogans they found offensive.  One was very imaginative:

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 7.30.31 pm

Most, however, simply covered over with spray or tape.
In early 2015 – John Webb decided to change his mind and this is how he did it:

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 10.02.09 am

This is the calibre of John Webb. No integrity and a bully.
I’ve spoken with Paul and he is as livid as I am about the situation with Wicked Campers; even mirroring a sentiment I made in the original petition – Enough is Enough!
Paul’s in the ring now too. It will be interesting to see if Paul McCarthy gets charged by Police but regardless, Paul has all our full support.
(Update: Police have dropped charges against Paul)

Freedom of Speech is not what this is about; no-one has that freedom in print. No-one.
We are living in an ever hyper sexualised climate where are our youth (especially) are being wallpapered in very limited visuals of sex and this business contributes to this though its public forum.

If we have leaders who are touting commitment to changing our current sexist climate and the violence that comes from it,

Question #230: Why not *start* with Wicked Campers taking down those offensive slogans?

The Government says that a start has to be made; so if not them – who?


PS I now solely run the Facebook page Boycott Wicked CampersIt has become an HQ of sorts where all information relating to getting this issue resolved is shared.
Wicked Pickets also have a Facebook page. Follow for updates.

PLEASE help by writing to anyone you feel may be able to help – use the inspiration above.

** Please don’t forget to sign this important petition here





This word is purported to mean something important – as it should – but this word can only exude power when it is reinforced and supported by an unshakable standard that drives it. Unfortunately, the reality is that we are not in Kansas anymore. The time has come where we must detach ourselves from suckling at the 1984-style illusion that our standards are deeply rooted in the righteous and good, and realise that our pervasive bystander attitude has contributed to allowing those who hold malice in their hearts to systematically disintegrate the standards of yore, using the various social platforms of today to send us careering to a place where we will soon find it hard to recognise ourselves.

What’s more disheartening is that not only are more people absolutely crossing the line of decency and lawful behaviour, they are simply not being held accountable; in fact, online, the opposite is happening more often; where the victims are the ones being put under the microscope and worse, punished for being said victim. In the past, it was all about attaining proof of wrongdoing – but now, in this age of technology which affords us an abundance of evidence, we still find ourselves questioning what it is that’s exactly needed for those committing crimes to be held responsible for having wronged another human being – especially when it comes to misogyny.

A year ago, I wrote that Facebook is evil and this has never been more apparent than today. One only needs to wade through their handling of serious breeches of their ‘Community Standards’  *cough* to see they deliberately have no control; the crux being that the actions of males that clearly cross standards are excused by Facebook, whilst the actions of females (or simply just the names they use) are penalised. The following is just a snapshot of what’s happened in my bubble of existence of late – and it’s only just a snippet of what’s really going on out there.

In recent weeks, some awareness of this issue came to the public light when writer Clementine Ford staged a protest against Sunrise – which started a Facebook debate (since removed) asking the question: ‘What’s it going to take for women to get the message about taking and sending nude photos?’ Incensed at having the searing spotlight of blame be turned toward those who were wronged – AGAIN – instead of towards those who have committed the violation and CRIME, Ford sent a photo with a message to Sunrise.

This brought an onslaught of horrific attack which is sadly becoming the norm when (especially) women call out against the victim-blaming that permeates all discourse in matters of misogyny. I too have been a victim of violent comments.
Well, the misogyny was strong and rife; arrows of hate seeking to target and maim Ford for her audacity. Some messages were so violently threatening, that she screenshot private messages and posted them on Facebook. Ones like this:


But this was the moment Clementine Ford found herself being punished for publishing the hateful and violent threats being made against her:


So one can be threatened on Facebook AND produce evidence but still be punished for it? Nothing screams ‘Community’ more than that.
What a safe haven, Facebook. It’s great to know you have our backs.
Suffice it to say that due to a big backlash, Facebook quickly reinstated Ford’s page but this is a rare privilege.

Let’s explore some more.

On the Facebook Triple J Hack page a few weeks ago, the revisited debate as to whether females should be able to buy GST free sanitary pads / tampons etc. was going strong. A friend of mine, going my the Facebook name, She Said, engaged in the conversation and was soon reading the following:


Charming; especially when the profile shot reveals the young age of the boy who said it:


When She Said informed him that she was reporting his comments to Facebook, he responded to her with:


Cunt, Slut, Bitch, Whore, Rape, Gang Rape…the vocabulary used through the discourse of angry, males online – some very young. Seriously, it’s never been like this before.

As we are dealing with Facebook, it came as no surprise that the boy’s comments were deemed NOT to have breached their ‘Community Standards’ and were only gone when the administrators of the Triple J page blocked him from further comment but her page was taken down by Facebook and would not be reinstalled unless she proved her name was legitimate. She had to change her name.

As I’m writing this – for no reason whatsoever – Facebook is doing the same to dynamic, feminist comedian Kirsty Mac:

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 11.05.03 pm

Kirsty is livid at the fact Facebook is dictating that her name is not her name. Who wouldn’t be?

Lily Munroe created REAL for Women, and with the help of Kate Drury and Pip Douglas provide a site that engages with research, articles and statistics that can help tackle the pervasive problem that is male violence; as well as provide a safe space for women to talk through anything regarding their experiences as females, if they so wish. On a Facebook post with an image of a headstone with the words, RIP Beauty Standards, the male response went as follows:

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 3.31.35 pm

He later apologised on the page, saying he was drunk.

But Facebook closed her page down when Anthony reported the comment because…he was told to look in the mirror? No calling him a Cunt or threatening him with violence – no just a, ‘Fuck off and take a good look at yourself’.
COMMUNITY STANDARDS BREACH ! Wooooop! Whoooop! All Facebook accounts frozen.

The thing I find profoundly bewildering is that many friends and myself have had a long battle with Facebook – getting horrid pages and images removed – to find ourselves continually told that what we were complaining about were fine and dandy. It took quite a while to get this page removed – including THIS photo:

Domestic violence photo

In both instances, I was met with Facebook responses that approved of their staying up. My response to them is at the bottom of the next screenshot, as I could not fathom how this page was actually reviewed and deemed appropriate.

Page NOT taken down

After much complaining – it was ultimately removed.

A video that proved to be profoundly disturbing, showing a man shoot his girlfriend in the head at pointblank range then sit and continue watching TV was enormously difficult to have removed. Many, many complaints were made, but it took weeks to have it finally taken down. I have a screenshot of the ‘after’ moment – but I still think it’s too disturbing an image to put up, even though you can’t see the top part of her body.

If this isn’t Graphic Violence – what the hell is?

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 8.46.13 pm Woman being shot. Not violent.

To go down the Facebook porn rabbit-hole is futile. It’s rampant, degrades females and looks to titillate the seemingly insatiable heterosexual male mind and penis, with an immeasurable amount of material to masturbate over. Reported images showing nudity and sexual acts will be taken down, only to be instantly replaced by others. Images I recently reported have the video symbol on them but once clicked, takes you to a dull article about accountancy or Cloud memory – one was for a nice hotel. It’s predatory and it’s feeding on the masses – US – our male minds and female bodies. And we’re allowing it. That’s the tragic part. These sites also have sex being recorded with women participants that look uncomfortable and forced, to say the least. Facebook will NOT take these pages down.

So here we are – full circle. A teeny snapshot. Facebook proudly champions their misogyny by allowing an endless sea of pornified and degrading images of women through to violent ideologies against them. And yet, when a woman stands up and raises the red flag to a serious online threat?
Facebook’s response is, Sorry – your name is what?

I just have one question (#229): WHAT Community Standards?

The essential ingredient needed with this issue – any important issue – is critical thinking + reflection; when one steps out of the emotion of a situation and looks at solutions through logic. Considering we’ve ironically labelled ourselves the most ‘intelligent’ species on this deteriorating planet (thanks to our parasitic and destructive consuming and wasteful ways) we now seem to be finding solace either in self-destructive behaviour or turning the proverbial blind eye, ultimately hammering the nails into our community coffins…

OR we can take some charge.

Who’s up for a little Facebook boycott? If we all go offline – deactivate – at the same time for a few days or a week or a month – noone will be on either, so you won’t miss out on anything! 🙂
Facebook may pay attention. Or maybe not. But anything’s better than standing and watching a few take the reigns because ‘someone’s gotta do it’. Let that someone be you, even if it be in a small way.

Remember:The Standard We Walk Past is the Standard We Accept.

Shall we? Yes?
Facebook does not have our back.

Deep Breath.

‘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.’ (From Press Release: July 16 2014)

I have to say, now that the commitment John Webb made in his Press Release expires today, I was probably the only chump who actually held hope that he and his team – including Ross Dudgeon, who wrote and spoke to me on John Webb’s behalf six months ago – would keep their word. It appears, however, that their ‘concern’ for what a great deal of people perceived as crossing-the-line, was a mere flash in the pan to divert any more attention toward the business and its practices because, the simple fact is, their promise has not been kept.

I contacted Wicked Campers a few weeks ago but they have not responded to me in regards to this matter. The campaign I initiated six months ago, which started with my 11 year old seeing a very offensive sloganattracted world-wide attention with 133 articles written – had a petition won in 4 days with 127, 000+ signatures – inspired Greens Senator, Larissa Waters, to put forward a motion to the Senate to condemn Wicked Campers, which received a rare, unanimous vote – but, regardless of all this, Wicked Campers have still decided to discard their own commitment to change.

Over the last few weeks, more and more people have been coming forward with images of Wicked Camper vans, that have been photographed around Australia, and they’re not impressed. The most frustrating component continues to be the fact that parents find themselves powerless when their children read aloud inappropriate slogans they sight and then scramble to try and create a ‘child-friendly’ explanation; as well as the fact that a wider community – outside the tiny 20s, backpacker demographic Wicked Campers aims at – are also not wishing to read them either.

Let’s not forget that this violation of the public space, encapsulates the biggest problem. Noone is denying that people can’t share a ‘joke’ amongst themselves, but it is the intrusion and face-rubbing of these ‘jokes’ in the common spaces of society, that infuriates a large portion of people. It must also be made clear that this does not mean that Wicked don’t have any vans with good slogans – on the contrary, there are some good ones out there with beautiful art work.

But that is not what all of this is about.

** Addition: On April 24 2015, John Webb released the following Press Release. Please note the dripping contempt of this person.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 10.02.09 am

So let’s have a look.
[I have been updating this post with photos sent to me from around Australia as they come. I recently put up the latest batch sent by the public from this year – 2016]

** Addition photographed at a Splendour in the Grass carpark Byron Bay, NSW, 22 July 2016. Splendour in the Grass made a commitment to tape over – or deny entry to – any slogans that would be deemed inappropriate for its all-age event. This one either slipped through the cracks or the commitment was not honoured. This slogan is pretty anti-woman.

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** Addition photographed in the Garden City Westfield’s carpark QLD, 20 June 2016.
So – according to Wicked – either way, women are ‘f**ked’, right?

** Addition photographed at Noosa National Park QLD, 16 June, 2016.
More objectification of women’s bodies.

** Addition photographed in the carpark of tourist site, Sky Tram, Blue Mountains NSW, 17 April 2016
This doesn’t even pretend to be clever – just hyper sexualising females, diminishing any respect that can be held. 

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** Addition: photographed in Byron Bay NSW, 14 April 2016
Simply against females.

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** Addition: photographed in Queenstown Tasmania, 3 April 2016
It’s not shower with your neighbour’s son, now is it?

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** Addition: photographed Brighton, Victoria 30 March 2016
This is an appalling example, where not only are women being objectified through the hyper-sexualised image of spreading her legs – they are referred to as GIRLS.

This slogan does nothing to lift the respect for women and girls as being here for any other purpose except to be viewed sexually. This slogan forces those who read it to visualise a sexual mental picture with a female and this company perpetuates this toxic attitude through their public travelling billboards.
ENOUGH. This is misogyny.


** Addition: photographed Easter Saturday 26 March 2016 on the Tasmanian Peninsula with an 8 and 10 year old asking questions.
The disturbing thing about this van is how the slogan on the back is coupled with a male sculling alcohol with the tag, Gone Drinking – a pissed male talking cunnilingus; not a good combination to advertise in this current climate.


** Addition: Filmed in the Blue Mountains 9 March 2016 in front of a park with children.

** Addition: photographed 5 March 2016 – Melbourne, VIC

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** Addition: photographed 29 Feb 2016 – Byron Bay, NSW
When you see the definition of the word – it is one of the worst slogans on the road. I spoke with a young adult recently about this word and she said she knew what it meant because young males seem to be using the term often.
PS On 16 May, the Chief Censor of New Zealand banned this slogan as it was seen as ‘an expression of misogyny that degrades and dehumanises women.’ If this slogan is seen on the streets of NZ, John Webb will cop a $200, 000 fine. Australian Censorship Board cannot do the same, therefore this van is still on our streets.

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** Addition: photographed 27 Feb 2016 – Lawson, Blue Mountains, NSW
Bitch is a hugely used derogatory slur against women – or men who are being put down by being compared to women. Plus wrong use of ‘your’.

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** Addition: photographed 27 January 2016 – on Princes highway, leaving Pambula NSW.
…because ‘landing’ on men is all women are good for, right?

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** Addition: photographed 17 Jan 2016 – Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains, NSW

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** Addition: photographed 18 December 2015 – Hobart, Tasmania
This is a slogan that passive-aggressively tries to silence and throws everything into the ‘it’s a joke’ department.

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** Addition: photographed 12 April 2015 – Bruny Island, Tasmania

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** Addition: photographed 12 April 2015 – Gold Coast M1


** Addition: photographed 21 April 2015 – Ballina


** Addition: photographed 25 March 2015 – Broadway, Sydney

Side of van:


The back (for the number plate):


** Addition: photographed 1 March 2015 – near Hobart.


** Addition: photographed Feb 25 2015 – Darwin
I have a BIG PROBLEM with this following slogan. Today is the 18th March and we have just heard of the 24th woman murdered in Australia so far this year – 2015 is 11 weeks old tomorrow. That’s 2 women a week over last year’s one. There is some buzz in the media about this statistic wondering why it’s happening. Well, of course, there are many factors that contribute to the perceptions of women in a society but they all play a role.

This van PARTICIPATES in perpetuating a toxic and violent perspective about women.

** Addition – yesterday, the 9th April, the 29th woman was murdered due to male violence, in 2015 so far. That’s jumped from one woman a week to #OneEveryThreeDays – just one year to the next. This is an emergency.

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** Addition photographed 12 February 2015 – Blenheim, New Zealand
I have included this photo because the slogan perpetuates a very dangerous perspective about women in this current paradigm. THIS COMPANY HAS NO INTEGRITY!
It reads: ‘I’ve often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can’t get my wife to go swimming.’


** Addition: photographed 6 March 2015 in a Big W carpark; Ballarat VIC.
It reads – ‘Your thighs won’t touch if my head’s between them.’


** Addition: photographed 7 March 2015 – Eildon Road, St Kilda Melbourne


** Addition: photographed 24 Feb 2015 in a Coles Supermarket carpark, Port Adelaide


** Addition photographed 20 Feb 2015 – Seacliff Esplanade, Adelaide


** Addition photographed 2 Feb 2015 – Surfers Paradise Queensland.
This one is ABHORRENT and I’m not speaking about the spelling mistake. I have been informed that an abused girl burst into tears when she found herself behind this van. Not insensitive enough?


** Addition photographed 9 Feb 2015 – Main Beach, Queensland + Dec 27 2014 – King Georges Rd Sydney

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** Addition photographed 23 Jan 2015 –  Robina, Queensland

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** Addition photographed 1 Jan 2015 – near Movieworld in QLD


Students of mine, sent me the following two images they saw on their travels:
Photographed in October 2014 – Canberra.


*** ^^^ So much for getting rid of misogynistic slogans. ^^^ ***

Photographed in Jindabyne in August 2014.
This one may have been sprayed over as I sent the image to Wicked Campers. Without the clear image of the number plate, however, meant it made it harder to locate.


The slogan below (taken on the 26th December in Sydney) actually comes from a cigarette ad from the ’70s (an ad I’ve shown students when we were studying sexist advertising from the days of yore) but most would not know this fact. Those reading this would assume the ‘money-shot’ from porn – ejaculating in a woman’s face. Abhorrent misogyny.


** Addition seen on the 26 Feb 2015 – West Melbourne.


‘Slut’ – that derogatory term applied to females, now attached to a child’s toy:
(Image from Instagram site)


The van below caused a mother, Christine King, to contact Wicked Campers due to the fact this particular van was parked outside a busy cafe area in Brisbane in November – at the school pick-up time – the main part that was visible to her and her kids (as seen from her photo below) said: You’re F#ckin’ Out! I’m F#ckin’ In!
I was under the impression that the use of the word ‘fuck’ is not permitted in public advertisements and yet… voilá!


Then there’s what’s actually written on the back of the same van:


Wicked Campers brushed Christine off when she contacted them, so she registered an official complaint to the Advertising Standards Bureau – which was upheld – but again, Wicked Campers have failed to comply to that ruling.

Christine also wrote to Brisbane City Council, the State Premier, the Police Commissioner and Police Minister and all have come back with the same conclusion – outlined succinctly by her local MP Aaron Dillaway. He wrote:

‘Under the current system, outdoor advertising relies heavily on self-regulation, and those who refuse to comply are not penalised. For this reason, the Attorney-General announces that he is committed to exploring options to properly enforce the decisions of the ASB, which raised in the HCSC report.’

Dillaway also wrote to the Hon Jarrod Bleijie – The Queensland Attorney General and Minister for Justice – and below was his response.

King, Christine. 08.12.14. Ministerial Response RE Outdoor Advertising

In short, consequences are being looked into for those who breach ASB rulings, but for now, Wicked Campers continues to ride the loophole they have always exploited.

This exploitation has allowed the following, appalling slogan to exist (even though the ASB found the play on words to be sufficiently clever to not uphold a complaint against it); saying a woman can’t wrestle + you should see her box (vulva). Just take the word ‘but’ out and this becomes something more sinister. Why anyone would write that a female can’t wrestle in these contentious times of domestic and social violence against women – is beyond me.

** Addition 13 March 2015 in Melbourne


Finally,  I saw on the Instagram page of one of the artists, (from November 2104) that the van with ‘Random Breast Test’ had been sprayed over by a disgruntled person (something John Webb said people could do in his Press Release:

‘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.’



Well, redo they did – the van below being seen on Jan 2 2015 near Kings Cross, Sydney – which makes me wonder why Wicked Campers didn’t respray it with something else – AS THEY PROMISED.

Question #221: How is it possible that these vans are permitted on the streets with NO consequence?

No other platform is permitted to do the same – so why are Wicked Campers?


This is now my next step and am currently working toward there being a consequence.

I cannot speak for anyone else – but I am more incensed now than I was six months ago.

Misogyny aside, I will leave you with these other slogans which demonstrate the gutter level of ‘humour’ they can utilise – ones generally obsessed with sex.

** Addition Jan 25 2015
Seen just before Christmas 2014 in Coffs Harbour:


** Addition Jan 24 2015
Seen on 23rd November in Coffs Harbour.


A video blog from a few weeks ago by blogger Eden Riley describes the fury she had when her 6 year old son read out the following slogan:


Caption on the back reads: ‘I know the perfect place for us to dry hump”.
Image from Instagram page.


Mia Freedman of Mamamia saw the following van in a Woolies carpark in a holiday coastal town, on Boxing day.


The remaining images are from the Wicked Campers Instagram page – all posted in the last few months.




Note the comments written about this van. In Bondi; late September 2014.


I also want to add, that as a parent, there are a whole lot of other perspectives that I want to navigate my children through, at the age appropriate time. One of these is the issue of drugs and there are also many WC vans that also make reference to drug taking.
I found the following (from their Instagram page) to be in ridiculous poor taste, as well as one that would particularly draw the attention of children:


People power must prevail as these perspectives are breaking Community Standards but being thrust into our public sphere regardless.
I am working on getting legislation passed to hold those who don’t take down advertisements deemed inappropriate by the Advertising Standards Bureau. I’ll need your support.

I would like to importantly add – that this needs to be tackled without any threatening comments or violent threats to anyone at Wicked Campers. That solves nothing and creates more of the same.

I will keep you posted from my end.


As some of you may be aware, Target Australia was petitioned, in the last week, to take down the video game Grand Theft Auto 5, off their shelves. The attention was drawn from an advertisement from Target, placing the game on the same page as children’s toys.


Survivors of violence, Nicole, Claire and Ket, started the petition due to the graphic sexual and violent nature of the game – most notably towards prostitutes – which cements perspectives of violence against women.

I felt it was important to share the petition because even though I don’t own the game, YouTube was dutifully able to provide me with a sick commentary of how to pick up a prostitute (woman). Of course, one can choose whether or not they’re going to run her over after the first-person sex, set her on fire and finish her off with a blast from a machine gun.

Yesterday, Target Australia listened, agreed and stopped the sale of the game in its stores; demonstrating integrity with their business standards.
I believe it was the right thing to do.

With emotional issues such as this, many choose to clutch the time and tested clichés of yore. In this case, those who oppose Target’s ultimate decision have two common arguments:
1. It’s just a game
2. Parents are to blame for children having it

I’m not going to go into the first point because the reason/s why a person chooses to play this game is a whole different kettle of fish. I’m not a psychologist nor a judge and it would be going down Alice’s rabbit hole for me to try and understand it.
The second point, however, is where the crux of this lands with me.

The main argument is that this is an R-Rated 18+ game and that the simple solution is that parents should not buy it for their children.
Yes. This is true – BUT, it’s not the simple solution.

Parents are always the easy target in arguments like these, but to be fair, the common cliché has lost its potency in this day and age because of the context of the world we’re living in. We are ALL being bombarded with a pornified and hyper-sexualised world and yet somehow, it’s up to the parents to ‘simply not buy it’?

I think this has become very difficult for parents; to actually deal with the pressure of filtering the ever-encroaching, adult world for their children. To do this successfully, though, one would have to be next to their child at every given moment and that’s impossible – and quite frankly, who would want to raise their child like that anyway? Not me.

As a parent, I am very aware of this paradigm and am doing my utmost to help my girls navigate through it, regardless of whether it’s aimed at them or not (and more often than not it isn’t – but they’re still being exposed anyway). My last post gives examples of the child exposure to this game – and it’s widespread in Primary Schools.

What we need is for the adult world to meet us half way and in my mind, Target Australia has now done just that.

They are a family store and being a family store means it comes with responsibility.
If they had ultimately chosen to keep stocking R-Rated games, then they would have needed to create a section where children can’t access the products; making it very clear it’s for adults only. Ultimately, though, what family store would want to attract attention to the fact that they sell products for adults only?

You’re more likely, as a parent, to be shopping with your children in a place like Target, Big W, K-mart (who should also follow suit and not just this game but all R-Rated games), as they sell children’s toys near the games section. To a child, one ‘game’ is the same as another, so:

Question #218: Can we just have some space that’s safe for kids?

Sadly, we have the fact that many young (predominantly male) children are actually playing this game and although it’s easy to pass the buck on parents – it’s not always their fault.

This decision makes it easier for the parents who are not aware of the game and its pretty horrible contents and who simply don’t notice the rating. We are human, after all, and not noticing a rating when your mind is full of a million other things, is far more forgivable than the bigger picture of all this.

And for all those who cry foul about not having their violent, porn games available in every store they want – at their fingertips – I ask them to step away from their own sense of privilege and think of reducing the temptation of having something rated strictly unsuitable for children, in a place frequented by children. It’s at their fingertips too.

UPDATE: Kmart have in fact now followed Target Australia’s lead and have also pulled Grand Theft Auto 5 from sale. That’s two.


After listening to the stories of survivors – I will NOT use the term ‘Sex Worker’ to devalue the prostituted.
This is a great piece with a very valid question.

Not The News in Briefs

This week the story of Ched Evans, the Sheffield United footballer convicted of rape, has been all over the news. Debate has been centred around whether on release from prison he should get his old job back, and the feminist position has been largely that no, he shouldn’t: as a highly-paid footballer he has a privileged position as a role model to young people, especially boys, and his reinstatement would be to minimise the damage he has done and to reinforce a structural misogyny within football. There is broad agreement amongst feminists that the message this would send out would be detrimental to women as a whole.

Judging from the accounts of the case I have read, the 19 year-old victim was picked up in a drunken state by a man who then texted his friend that he’d ‘got a bird’. She was then taken to a pre-booked hotel room…

View original post 1,021 more words


August 31, 2014

Today my 11 year old daughter and I attended our second march against our current government – March in August organised by March Australia – due to its marginalising decisions for Australians and their seeming complete inability to see the big picture.

Today was about many things for her and me – climate change, education, women’s issues – but we personally marched for those seeking asylum; how the horrors they have lived and seen are somehow considered null and void because they came here by boat (and after a particular date) and must logically be punished for it, suffering endless incarceration.

My daughter excitedly announced that she wanted to make her own sign; she decided on a slogan and did the writing herself. It turned out being so endearing because she realised too late that she forgot the ‘s’ at the end of the word refugee and had to place it underneath.

It even got on the news:


I’m so proud of her. Again.

Later, whilst we watched the news on numerous channels, we were saturated with stories of global war and atrocities. That’s when our Prime Minister appeared saying he’s now committed Australia to weapons air drops in Iraq.
Lots of male voices and leaders pledging more violence; more fighting.
Fighting that will cause more of the displaced, who will most probably flee for their lives and seek asylum. Wouldn’t you?
Not here, though. Not here.

Today, however, hot on the heels of the disheartening stories and facts I listened to at the march – I read of something incredible and inspiring.

Four teenage girls from Nigeria aged between 14 and 15 years of age, created a generator that runs 6 hours of electricity on a litre of urine.

Isn’t that mind-blowing?


Here are four human beings who see the big picture.
This invention is ingenious. They used intelligence.

Yet. These four humans are a part of this paradigm and hence have labels attached to them that will determine a probable dim future – they are African and they are female.
Not much is going to happen with this; the ‘system’ won’t allow it.

So, as I bathe in the wonderfulness of these girls and then glance up to the news, I wonder:

Question #210: When will the human race start to organise itself and start being intelligent about our global future?


Why all the horror and injustice, just to make money at the expense of others?
It’s only blacking our soul as a species.

Today I marched with my daughter – heard about the continuing injustices in every corner of the globe, as well as in our own backyards – and experienced a sliver of hope.


What will tomorrow bring?

Deep breath.

If you wish to add your voice against the slogans created by Wicked Campers and hopefully create some change, sign the petition below:

Eliminate misogynistic and degrading slogans and imagery

Be an actionist.

Also complain to the Advertising Standards Board if you have witnessed any of their degrading  or dangerous slogans. Photos help a lot.

Thanks for your support, everyone; it’s been overwhelming.

Paula x


Not *all* men.

May 27, 2014

A fabulous Twitter hashtag firestorm has been born.
It’s #YesAllWomen – a powerful and indignant reaction to the murders committed in the US over the weekend and a response to the usual male cry, when crimes like this occur, of ‘Not ALL men are like that.’
This argument is the endless battle toward a sense of equilibrium. It exhaustingly halts all debate and progress, as the manner in how we tackle issues, like violence against women, becomes the focal point; predominantly how it’s Not. All. Men.
I remember discussing this with my husband because I couldn’t (and still don’t) really comprehend how that argument is deemed more important to deliberate, over the crucial issue/s at hand.

Yes, it is true. Not all men are violent; not all men are rapists.

But it must be understood that, Yes – all women live in an ever more dangerous world.
All females are at risk of male violence. 1 in 3.

The incident mentioned above, that occurred in Santa Barbara on this last Friday 23 May, has left the world in reeling shock. In case you’ve been on a media freeze over the last few days, 22 year old Elliot Rodger stabbed, shot and killed 6 people and then himself, after leaving a 141 page manifesto (with the date of his planned attack and how he was going to execute it) and various video blogs, obsessing about his virginity and loneliness.

He ultimately sought “retribution” on women in general; wanting to “punish” them for rejecting him. His manifesto outlines his desire to put all women in a concentration camp and sit in a tower to watch them all starve to death; saying, “If I can’t have them, noone will.”

My reaction was one of unsurprised horror – but not as much for the shooting and stabbing acts themselves (although my heart aches for those innocent lives – of both genders – cut short due to him) but for what he said, before following through on his hatred, in a kind of ‘suicide note’ on video.
The depth of bitterness this young man harboured and let fester, is psychopathic and his obsession over what he seems to deem is ‘owed’ to him – a woman’s body for sex – is what ultimately drives him to savagely murder and take his own life.

So now the debate begins – or does it?

Exhibit A:
There are those who defend this man and say he’s a legend. MRAs – Men’s Rights Activists.
A Facebook page was started called, ‘Elliot Rodger an American Hero’. I urged my followers on Facebook to report the page to them. It’s been taken down twice, but then the author just starts up a new page. The page creator has said he’s developing a game called ‘You can’t doge the Rodge’ and has asked for funding. (We all know who will get shot in this game).
According to him he has received $500 already. **

One responder to this page wrote:

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So we all agree this is all a tad evil, no?
One man; one crazy mind?
No. It’s much, much more. Just one person saying they may do the same as Rodger, due to females not allowing them access to their bodies, is terrifying. It could be anyone.
The sense of entitlement is crippling.

Not all men are violent; but all women live a life of risk.

As the usual method of debate is proving to be largely useless, due the heavy cloak of clichés and the status quo, I believe there are only two questions we need to be asking as a species:

Question #204: What is the action?

Question #205: Who is doing it?

Regardless of gender.

Once a problem has been identified – in this case, Violence – the only port of call is to look at who is doing it – whether male or female and punish according to the action.
Isn’t that logical?
Statistically – in this current paradigm – it’s males. Males are violent.
Is it conditioning? Absolutely.
But this is not to say that there aren’t males who suffer from violence – but again one must ask, Who is doing it? Some are females; more are males.

I leave you with the image below that I found on the Internet:


Most (all?) females would feel a sense of dread in a situation like this.

The points to ponder are 1. Why do females feel this way and 2. how can perceptions and practices be changed so that all we see in this photo, are just people?

Deep Breath.


** At time of publishing this post, Facebook had taken down all pages associated with Elliot Rodger. The irony is that I reported many of the statuses within the post and I’m still receiving messages from Facebook telling me the hate speech on the page is not hate speech – on a page that doesn’t exist!

But never fear – IT’S BACK and this time they want a civil suit against the Sorority girls who didn’t ‘service’ Rodger. The email contact is a female – because that’s going to give the movement credibility now.
So I repeat – what is the action and who is doing it?

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