‘Upsetting Rape Culture’: Baltimore Feminists Prank Victoria’s Secret
Last week, Victoria’s Secret allegedly launched a new line of underwear called “The Consent Line.” Whereas recent Victoria’s Secret underwear offered thongs reading “Sure Thing,” this new line of panties have slogans such as “No Means No” and “Ask First.” Even more exciting, the new line was modeled by a “beaming woman of color.”
In one day, over 50,000 people has visited PinkLovesConsent.com, a website appearing to feature Victoria’s Secret Pink’s latest designs: a line of thongs and underwear featuring slogans promoting consent to fight rape and sexual assault.
“PINK loves CONSENT is our newest collection of flirty, sexy and powerful statements that remind people to practice CONSENT. CONSENT is a verbal agreement about how and when people are comfortable having sex,” the site’s copy read.
One blogger commented on the line: “I’m the first person to go on a tirade about how much I hate VS, but this is awesome.” Others were equally excited about Victoria’s Secret new controversial line.
Turns out, the whole thing was a very crafty prank, headed up by a Baltimore feminist group who call themselves “FORCE.” Reportedly, Victoria’s Secret isn’t too happy about the whole thing. The company has no precedent with taking sides in women’s issues and is seeking that the hoax be taken off the internet.
Baltimore residents Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle headed up the campaign to raise awareness about something they call “rape culture” and how it has permeated our society.
The group defines rape culture as a culture in which “people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate, rape.”
The group’s website continues:
“Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as ‘just the way things are.’ “
The group spoke with Baltimore Fishbowl about their incentives for beginning the campaign. Brancato and Nagle report that Upsetting Rape Culture began when the group made a line of underwear called “Consent is Sexy” in response to the massive increase in sexual assaults and rapes. The group designed a three-pack of underwear stating “Yes,” “No,” and “Maybe.” The group thought the underwear “was a cute way of wearing what you were in the mood for.”
FORCE reports that about a month later, Victoria’s Secret released an underwear design that said, “Yes, No, Maybe” across the crotch. The group felt the design implied that women didn’t really know what they wanted, and interpretation could be left up to another person.
The reason for making a line of underwear to raise awareness, the group reports, is a way for women to set a boundary by firmly stating, “No,” instead of “flirting,” which the group believes is “problematic” for many young women.
The group then decided to knock off the Victoria’s Secret PINK line to convey their message. With about 100 volunteers, they infiltrated social media with their PINK loves CONSENT line.
The response from the public was overwhelmingly positive.
In a press release, the group states:
“We could write a pamphlet about consent. In fact, we have written and distributed pamphlets about consent. But how many people are reading pamphlets about sexual practices and how many people are reading facebook post about Victoria’s Secret? We’re not about taking Victoria’s Secret down. We are about changing the conversation.”
The Huffington Post reports that lawyers from Victoria’s Secret had the website pinklovesconsent.com pulled off the internet, citing “confusion” to customers who might mistake the PINK loves CONSENT campaign for an actual Victoria’s Secret campaign. The Baltimore group’s Twitter site was also removed. The activists behind the prank stated in a press release: “By shutting down pinklovesconsent.com, Victoria’s Secret is shutting down an important outlet for information about healthy sex.” They have also started a Change.org petition demanding that Victoria’s Secret allow PinkLovesConsent.com to be reinstated.
What do you think about FORCE’s prank? Would you buy Pink Loves Consent underwear?