On Monday December 3rd 2012 all social media were a buzz with excitement with what seemed to be Victoria’s Secrets latest release from their PINK collection. Pink Loves Consent featuring their signature lace thong and panties with new sexually empowering phrases such as “No means no” and “Ask First” alongside their NOT so signature models dawning these snazzy bottoms all in the name of promoting consent and awareness to fight rape. Some people thought “Finally” they are supporting a great cause and showcasing woman with all body types, turning a new leaf, showing the public that is was time for a change. Little did we know that the creative direction of this campaign had nothing to do with Victoria’s Secret whatsoever but everything to do with a savvy activist group FORCE. Curvy Magazine caught up with the duo to find out what REALLY went on.
Who are you and what do you represent ?
Pink Loves Consent is a project by activist duo FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture is a creative activist effort to upset the culture of rape and promote a culture of consent. We believe that a more difficult and honest conversation needs to happen in America to face the realities of sexual violence, and we envision a world where sex is empowering and pleasurable rather than coercive and violent. As activists, we are here to force the issue.
“PINK loves CONSENT” is a campaign that subverts Victoria’s Secret brand to promote consent and fight rape culture. “Ask first”, “No means no” and “Let’s talk about sex” remind us that communication is the key to good sex. The organizers believe that we need a sexual revolution that makes practicing communication as commonplace as using a condom. Condoms were promoted to young, sexually active people in response to the AIDS epidemic in the 90’s to prevent the transmission of HIV. Today, communication and respect needs to be promoted among young, sexually active people in response to the epidemic of rape, assault and sexual violence to prevent unwanted sexual experiences. Just like pausing to put on a condom prevents the spread of STDs, pausing to check in with your partner prevents rape.
Join the next sexual revolution: PINK loves CONSENT.
What inspired you to embark on this pink loves consent venture ? Why Victoria’s Secret, why undies ?
Consent is a verbal agreement between people having sex that they are both comfortable with the interaction. PINK loves CONSENT is much more than a line of (satirical) intimate apparel. It is a way for young people to eradicate sexual violence through good communication and respect. It is a revolution.
And why should Victoria’s Secret (or anyone) promote consent? To end rape. By the time American women graduate from college 1 in 4 will have been raped. Every 21 hours, a rape occurs on an American college campus. Women are twice as likely to be raped in their lifetime as to develop breast cancer.
Social media is becoming a tool for social change and the corporate giant Victoria’s Secret has a massive audience of young women. 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 have seen the role of social media in revolution in the Arab Spring, but change Victoria’s Secret? No, this campaign probably won’t change the brand, nor should it. We’re not about taking Victoria’s Secret down. We are about changing the conversation. The sexiness that is being sold to women by Victoria’s Secret is not actually about sex. It is not how to have sex, relationships or orgasms. It in an IMAGE of what it is to be sexy. So while we are sold cleavage, white teeth, clear skin and perfect hair no one is asking us how our bodies feel and what we desire. Victoria’s Secret owns the image of female sexuality, instead of women owning their own sexuality.
On a scale of 1 to 10, How well was your message received amongst fans, followers, and peers?
With resounding love and approval! The night of the fashion show, our hashtag #loveconsent showed up as related to the #victoriassecret, and lots of fans were talking about it. We did change the conversation in the past few days.
“Monday and Tuesday PINKlovesCONSENT.com went VIRAL! In the first 24 hours the site had over 200,000 hits. The stunt was written up in the Huffington Post, Jezebel, New York Magazine, and BUST to name a few. And EVERYONE was talking about it on social media. High school and college aged students blogged and reblogged the story like crazy. Twitter users were loving Victoria’s Secret’s new look. On facebook VS customers were wishing that it was real. One tumblr post got reblogged 20,000 times.”
In the beginning, young women who found out about the campaign were THRILLED by the idea that Victoria’s Secret would promote a positive version of sexuality. As one high school student eloquently blogged:
“I’m still freaking out over this pink loves consent thing. And people say nothing’s gonna change, that talking and educating doesn’t help. Watch how many people will second-guess their actions when a widely popular company is pushing the issue. This is so fucking cool.”
–a seventeen year-old high school student posted on tumblr
Later, people were disappointed to find out that Victoria’s Secret wasn’t really promoting consent. But we encouraged our massive following to promote the idea of consent on Facebook, and attract even more Victoria’s Secret consumers to the campaign. So what were people telling #victoriassecret about why they #loveconsent?
They were saying a lot. Here are some of our favorites:
@VictoriasSecret I’d much rather wear panties that say “Ask First” instead of “Unwrap Me.” I am not a new iPhone. #loveconsent
I #loveconsent because consent feels good. Push up bras do not. @victoriassecret #victoriassecret
We over here at Curvy Magazine OBVIOUSLY love the fact that you decided to use real woman with real bodies as your “models” What made you decide that you wanted to go in that direction ?
We agree that seeing REAL bodies and loving your body is an important part of practicing consent. You need to feel comfortable with yourself and love yourself and value yourself in order to know that you deserve to feel pleasure.
Tuesday night, all of the #loveconsent tweets rolling in were a chorus of people professing their love for women’s bodies, sex, healthy relationships, empowerment and a day when rape is not the norm in American culture.
The #victoriassecret tweets had a slightly different feeling. An overwhelming amount of the tweets were about how women should or do feel insecure when watching the Angels strut down the catwalk.
“When someone tells a fat girl she could be a #victoriassecret model. It’s so hard not to laugh
If anyone needs me i’ll be doing sit ups and lunges for the rest of my life 🙁 #vsfashionshow
If you listen really carefully… you can hear the sound of millions of girls puking. #vsfashionshow
The #loveconsent crowd felt sad seeing these tweets! And they tweeted back words of encouragement about self love and body love! “LOVE what you see when you look in the mirror. EVERY body is beautiful. #VSFashionShow #LoveConsenthttp://PinkLovesConsent.com,” tweeted Brittney-Elizabeth, a model for the paradoy campagin PINK loves CONSENT.
Others chimed in saying, “don’t hate yourself! love your body and #loveconsent #consentissexy #victoriassecret #VSfashionshow” and “Seeing tweets from women who feel less attractive thanks to the #VSFashionShow makes me so sad 🙁 You are all beautiful! #LoveConsent”.
The slew of tweets coming from #victoriassecret about how women should and do feel insecure about their bodies are not surprising. Its normal for people to say insensitive things on the internet. It is normal for women to talk about how they need to diet. It is normal for women to feel like their bodies are inadequate or ugly when compared with the picture-perfect images of supermodels.
But what if it wasn’t normal? What if we worshiped all body types?
What if the “Love what you see in the mirror” message came from the poster girl for Victoria’s Secret, Miranda Kerr, instead of the poster girl for PINK loves CONSENT? What if women professed self love instead of self hate while watching the annual VS runway show? What if the dominant culture in America was as empowering and inspiring as culture of #loveconsent?
We think the reason Pink loves Consent went so viral is because we want it so bad. The fake version of Victoria’s Secret is too good to be true. But, what a better world to live in! As a young woman in this country, I can’t imagine waking up to a major American corporation taking a stand against rape and professing the sexal empowerment of women. Our country needs a different broadcast, a different message, a different image. We need a culture that promotes health, safety, pleasure and real love for our bodies.
The question everyone is asking, Are we going to be able to purchase the positive message panties? If so, when and where please 🙂
We are not selling the underwear, though there will be ways for people to get their hands on the panties soon! Stay tuned 😉 We’ll announce via Facebook and our websites- pinklovesconsent.com and upsettingrapeculture.com
Since you’ve got everyone’s attention, What would you like to say…
We want people to learn about consent. We need to create a culture where the sexual empowerment of women is more pervasive than the sexual violation. We want to see the practice of consent show up in the bedroom just as much as ‘V-string’ thongs. Consent needs to become a mainstream idea. Condoms became a mainstream idea in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Just like pausing to put on a condom prevents the spread of STDs, pausing to check in with you partner prevents unwanted sexual experiences.
Keep tweeting #loveconsent and stay tuned!