Wicked Pickets scores first win against misogyny

Issue 
Queesland Attorney General Yvette D'Ath.

Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath announced on July 21 that the state government would introduce legislation that will ensure that vehicles with slogans that "fail to comply with determinations by the Advertising Standards Bureau" face deregistration.

The move was a result of more than two years of campaigning by feminist activist group Wicked Pickets, directed at the Queensland-based campervan hire company Wicked Campers. The announcement was welcomed by Wicked Pickets, the RACQ, the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) and the Australian Association of National Advertisers.

The Wicked Pickets campaign drew the link between the vilification of women inherent in Wicked Campers slogans and violence against women. It called for changes to Queensland's anti-discrimination law to include vilification and discrimination on the basis of sex.

The campaign involved stalls at local markets, community forums, letter writing and petitions to the state and federal governments, and rallies and actions outside Wicked Camper bases in Brisbane and Cairns.

The campaign also appealed to local councils, festivals and tourist operators to bar Wicked Campers and their misogynist messages that vilified women from their sites. Links were made with activists in other states and New Zealand.

After D'Ath's announcement, spokesperson for Wicked Pickets Anna McCormack told Green Left Weekly: “The move to deregister those commercial vehicles that do not comply with the Advertising Standard Board's findings is clearly aimed at Wicked Campers.

“It is a positive move. Dozens of complaints about Wicked Campers' van slogans have been upheld by the ASB but Wicked Campers has ignored all requests to remove the slogans. Now they will not be able to ignore those requests.

“However, the initiative does not go far enough. While it may deal with Wicked Campers, it allows other commercial companies that advertise via newspapers, magazines and billboards to continue to denigrate and ridicule women and girls. It allows these companies to continue to use rape culture to sell their products.

“We believe the Queensland government was looking for a solution to the Wicked Campers problem that did not 'open the floodgates', that is, that did not allow women to make complaints about any other commercial company. They have achieved this but the solution will not challenge the advertising of companies like Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci.

“The presentation of dead women, women without heads, women about to be raped etc. as 'sexy' and appealing will go unchallenged.

“Current Queensland anti-discrimination law outlaws vilification on the grounds of race, religion, sexuality and gender identity. This is appropriate. It needs to be extended to include 'sex' so women and girls are also protected. The Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act should be reviewed to ensure it provides protection to all disempowered groups.

“Tasmania is the only Australian state that outlaws conduct that insults, intimidates or ridicules on the grounds of gender, as well as a range of other attributes. Tasmanian women have recently begun to lodge complaints about Wicked Campers vans with Equal Opportunity Tasmania and Wicked Campers has already started painting over their misogynist slogans. This needs to happen elsewhere.”

Wicked Pickets has written to the owner of Wicked Campers with suggestions for alternative slogans as well as pointing him to a local group of young designers of urban art. So far he has not responded.

Like the article? Subscribe to Green Left now! You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.