For a couple of hours earlier this week, Victoria’s Secret–known for its push-up bras and cultural appropriation–gained some serious feminist cred. Midday on Monday, a website for a “new line,” PINK loves CONSENT, launched. The site displayed images a diverse group of models showing off lingerie, similar in style to VS’s teen/college PINK line, emblazoned with messages like “NO MEANS NO” and “ASK FIRST.” PINK loves CONSENT quickly went viral, and the response from potential consumers was tremendously positive. One email to the site read:
Dear Anyone who made this happen at VS,
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! As a college student, and as someone who is constantly trying to create awareness of consent and body image awareness, I love this. As someone who is a survivor of assault, I love this. I love this times a million. I am floored, and a proud customer. I will flaunt these the minute I am able to buy them.
Unfortunately, it turns out that Victoria’s Secret is not, in fact, releasing a feminist lingerie line–but what a brilliant prank. FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture has taken credit for the campaign, which exposes Victoria’s Secret’s decidedly anti-feminist messaging while leveraging its popularity to advertise an activist mission and make consent “a mainstream idea.” With this joke, FORCE pushes us to imagine better world–and to fight for its realization. As they write in a follow-up piece:
What if consent and communication showed up in the bedroom as much as push-up bras and seamless thongs? Things WILL change and talking and education DOES help. We can create a culture where the sexual empowerment of women is more common than their sexual assault. But it’s going to take some work to keep on fighting against the messaging from giants like Victoria’s Secret.