Last week, a stunt played on Victoria’s Secret exploded via journalists and the social web, beginning a new conversation about consent, sexual violence, and rape. Last Monday, journalists received a press release advertising a new Victoria’s Secret line called “PINK Loves Consent,” a new campaign that would “remind PINK panty-wearers and their partners to practice CONSENT.” Complete with a new website, Twitter account, Facebook page, online shopping options, and a public relations contact, the campaign featured a new line of stylish underwear decorated with slogans such as “Ask First.” The website explained, “CONSENT is a verbal agreement (say it out loud—no ‘body language’) about how and when people are comfortable having sex. ‘Ask first’, ‘No means no’ and ‘Let’s talk about sex’ remind us that communication is the key to good sex.”
After reading the press release, Katie Baker of Jezebel immediately had some suspicions that the new line of underwear was not real. She called the media contact on the website who assured her that the campaign was real, and that it represented an “effort for the company to show that it cares about social issues.”But a spokesperson from Limited Brands, Victoria’s Secret owner, confirmed for Baker that they were not behind the project.
The next day, an artist/activist duo from Baltimore called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture confessed to being behind the project. FORCE most recently teamed up with another Baltimore-based artist collective called Luminous Interventions to project the phrase “Rape is Rape” on the Capitol building in Washington, DC, just days before the election.
Their stunt was also written about in Business Insider, Styleite, Huffington Post, and more. To continue their grassroots activism, FORCE encouraged people to tweet and post about the PINK LovesConsent campaign during Victoria’s Secret’s annual fashion show that took place on Wednesday night. Twitter suspended the @LoveConsent account that was created by FORCE, but their blog and Facebook page now recommend, “Tell #victoriassecret why you #loveconsent,” in order to continue the conversation and the attention to the subject of rape culture.