You know those really gross panties with demeaning messages on them? Thongs that say "Come and Get It" or boy shorts with "I Have A Present For You" on the bum? In order to combat these rape culture messages emblazoned on lingerie, Victoria's Secret launched an "I Heart Consent" collection that not only featured messages about consent to combat typical sexual assault-inducing messages, but also featured models that embodied a variety of shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, the collection is a fake. Turns out, Victoria's Secret isn't so big on consent at all.
In a move that had even VS employees duped, feminist group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture created "Operation Panty Drop" last year and began leaving consent-themed panties in more than a dozen Victoria's Secret stores crossing North America and Europe. Messages like "no means no" and "ask first" were created to mock the problematic messages that the retailer's regular panties endorse (seriously, my butt is not a "Sure Thing", Victoria's Secret).
Organizers of the project Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato said to the New York Daily News that, "What we’re doing is one tactic within a bunch of necessary tactics to change our culture."
Before the physical panty trail was left in-stores, the feminist group’s anti-rape spoof website, pinklovesconsent.com, went viral, giving the impression that Victoria's Secret was officially launching the pro-consent lingerie as part of a special edition collection from the PINK line. In addition to the website, the group even sent out a fake press release that had everybody fooled this was a real thing. Toting lines like "'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."
But before anyone could figure out the site was a fake, people were already coming out in the hundreds of thousands and using the hastag #loveconsent on Twitter or expressing their gratitude to Victoria's Secret for creating such an amazing line of lingerie that facilitated open-discussion on something that's not normally talked about.
What's most interesting, however, isn't how popular the idea became amongst consumers. It's the fact that Victoria's Secret didn't go about contacting the group directly for a cease and desist, despite the popularity, but instead contacted the online hosts that the project relies on to stay up and running in order to shut it down. The brand went on to cite "confusion" to customers who might mistake the PINK loves CONSENT campaign for an actual Victoria’s Secret campaign. A little too late then, huh VS? The campaign's Twitter account was also suspended.
When I first saw the images I was totally fooled too and I was really disappointed upon finding out that these were fake. I'm not a fan of talking underwear in general, but these are things that I would proudly wear. And while the majority of responses to the collection have been positive, some people have asked what's the point in creating pro-consent lingerie when the people who see it likely already have your consent? And I think that's part of the problem right there. The idea that because your pants are off or someone has found a way to get them off that they have your consent to do what they like with you. Most importantly, though, I think what's great here is that even though the lingerie isn't real, the lessons and the discussion that's been sparked from this is.
You can scroll the gallery for some more examples of the collection.
Lovelies, what do you think of pro-consent lingerie?