Monday, December 17, 2012

Feminist group leaves consent-themed panties in Victoria’s Secret stores to protest ‘culture of rape’ and company themes it finds problematic

FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, which has a website spoofing Victoria’s Secret that pretends to offer consent-themed panties, called the move ‘operation panty drop.’

Feminist group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture performed its latest "operation panty drop” Saturday.

Organizers Rebecca Nagle, 26, and Hannah Brancato, 27, have teamed up with male and female “consent enthusiasts” to leave consent-themed panties in more than a dozen Victoria’s Secret stores in North America and Europe since Dec. 5.

The underwear’s “no means no” and “ask first” messages satirize some of the retailer’s panties that have messages the group deems problematic, such as “sure thing.”

“What we’re doing is one tactic within a bunch of necessary tactics to change our culture,” Nagle told the Daily News.

The team publicly announced the project Dec. 10, but the idea had been brewing since last winter.

One shopper, who was not aware of the group beforehand, purchased a pair when she spotted them in Philadelphia.

“(I)f I am wearing sexy underwear,” she wrote, “that doesn’t mean I am asking for anything. Ask me first!”

Before the panty trail, the group’s anti-rape spoof website,, went viral. The page gave the impression that Victoria’s Secret was producing a collection of “flirty, sexy” panties with “powerful statements” for its popular lingerie line Pink.

Many supporters were only upset that they could not actually purchase the consent-themed panties on FORCE’s website. The group believes that the project is protected under fair use since it is merely spoofing the company, but it would likely get sued if it turned a profit with the company’s intellectual property.

Victoria’s Secret has not contacted FORCE directly, but it has contacted the companies that host FORCE’S information online, such as Pinterest and Facebook, according to the group.

“Instead of coming to us directly with a cease and desist order, they are just trying to take down our information that we have online to shut down the project,” Nagle said.

Nagle and Brancato, who identify as nonassimilationist feminists, are dedicated to fighting what they consider a “culture of rape” and to fostering a “culture of consent.” They cite activist Jaclyn Friedman, who advocates “images of healthy and real female sexuality,” as a prominent influence on their thinking about gender and sex.

“I think the immediate goal with this campaign was to make consent go viral, and I think it was completely successful,” Nagle said. “We wanted bring consent to a national audience.”

The News reached out to Victoria’s Secret but has not yet heard back.


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