Susanne Legena: Wicked Campers’ offensive slogans are sexist and degrading to our girls and should be banned

Article by Susanne Legena /
The Advertiser /
December 4, 2018 /
Click here to view original /

“A wife – an attachment you screw on the bed to get housework done” and “In every princess, there is a little slut who wants to try it just once”.

These are just a taste of the intentionally offensive, degrading slogans that are scrawled in spray-paint across the infamous Wicked Campers vans now at the centre of a state political debate.

On Wednesday, State Parliament is set to debate a private member’s Bill moved by Labor’s status of women spokeswoman Katrine Hildyard to deregister such vehicles that have complaints against them upheld.

When Queensland passed similar legislation, the company simply registered the offending vehicles in another state, which is why the LNP Opposition deemed the move tokenistic.

Other than ignoring the fact that if all states and territories passed the legislation, this loophole would be closed – and it’s already being considered by other state governments – here’s why this sort of legislation is not only highly symbolic, but also necessary.

Our daughters are all too aware that they live in a man’s world.

This is thanks to society, generally, and more specifically, to industries such as the media and advertisers, but also the behaviour of our political leaders.

Female bodies are used to promote everything from motor sports to burgers.

Several ads from lingerie company Honey Birdette were recently banned because of their “soft-porn” nature.

Dr Lauren Rosewarne of the University of Melbourne says sexist advertising may constitute sexual harassment.

This is because legislation exists that bans these sorts of images in workplaces, as it creates a hostile environment.

Why does this matter?

Plan International Australia’s Everyday Sexism survey in 2016 found half of Australian girls aged 15-19 feel they are valued more for their looks than their brains and opinions.

Not only do girls see the inequality around them, they also feel excluded from public spaces and leadership roles.

Last week, federal Liberal MP Julia Banks cited a lack of gender equality as a reason for leaving the party.

Girls will only value themselves if we value them.

We won’t achieve equality for our daughters unless we take steps to make that happen.

They won’t reach their full potential and become the leaders our country needs.

And we haven’t even touched on the damage that can be done by sending hypersexualised messages to our sons.

That’s why we’ve called for Australia to ban sexist advertising.

And it’s why we hope the SA Parliament will take one more step towards equality by passing this Bill.