Wicked Pickets harassed by police at rally against misogyny

More than 100 people rallied on July 25 to campaign against the promotion of rape culture and the vilification of women as displayed on vans hired to backpackers by Wicked Campers.

Last year, more than 127,000 Australians signed a petition calling for Wicked Campers to remove its misogynist slogans. Greens Senator Larissa Waters moved a resolution condemning Wicked Campers. It was seconded by Labor Senator Claire Moore and passed unanimously.

Faced with this community concern, owner of Wicked Campers, John Webb, agreed to remove the “princess slut” slogan (which had prompted the online petition), and to remove other offensive slogans within six months. He dishonoured the commitment to remove the other offensive slogans.

Some of the slogans still paraded around on their vans include:
· “She can’t wrestle, but you should see her box!”
· “Save a lollipop, suck a D…”
· “Can your pussy do the dog?”
· “Hurricanes are like women…when they come, they’re wet and wild, and when they leave… they take your house and car!”

The slogans and the drawings denigrate women because they sexually objectify women and girls. Some of them promote rape culture and violence against women.

The rally organisers, Wicked Pickets, have been campaigning to have the federal and state anti-discrimination laws amended to include vilification against women. Existing laws ban vilification on the grounds of race, religion, sexuality and gender identity, but cannot be used to prevent the display of the misogynist slogans such as those on Wicked campervans.

Speakers at the rally included Betty Taylor, who has worked in the violence-against-women sector for 25 years and is the founding director of the Gold Coast Domestic Violence Network; Paula Orbea, a Sydney teacher with 20 years’ experience, who initiated the petition against Wicked Campervan slogans a year ago; and Adela Brent, a counsellor who works with women survivors of sexual abuse and is active in the Latin American community.

All speakers drew the links between the vilification of women as represented by the Wicked Campers slogans and the incidence of violence against women.

Protesters then marched to Parliament House where Ipswich MLA Jennifer Howard had agreed to address the rally and receive the petitions to present to the Queensland Parliament.

In spite of police permits being in place, marchers were harassed by police who demanded that they move off the road. The harassment was so vocal that it initially delayed Howard from addressing the rally. A complaint has been lodged with the police minister.

Rally organiser Anna McCormack told Green Left Weekly: “The police did not assist the orderly conduct of our march in any way, choosing instead to hinder, harass and try to intimidate.
“When we arrived outside Parliament House, our final speaker, Jennifer Howard, was delayed by the police yelling at us and abusing us again, shouting that we were ‘stupid’.

“One of the officers seemed almost out of control with anger. His behaviour, and the behaviour of the other police was unprofessional and bullying. The irony of this at a gathering to oppose men’s violence against women, has not been lost.”

Wicked Pickets will continue to campaign until strong laws are in place to ban vilification of women. A further action is planned for later in the year.

The police officer who harassed the rally.

Photos: Wicked Pickets/Facebook

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