This morning, I got a press release from "firstname.lastname@example.org" announcing a new Victoria's Secret line that "promotes consent to fight rape in new panties."
Victoria's Secret is using its nationally-recognized image to lead the country in the next sexual revolution: CONSENT. PINK loves CONSENT is a new line of styles that reminds customers and their sexual partners to practice consent. You can join the "CONSENT REVOLUTION" at pinklovesconsent.com.
The website features a not-so-Victoria's-Secrety model (she's not white and super skinny with boobs like buoyant watermelons) wearing pink underwear with the phrase "No Means No" emblazoned on the crotch and more pleas to "Join the consent revolution." There are links to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, and the website claims to have 5,541,840 members. Impressive!
I was dubious to begin with — I don't expect that much feminist innovation from VS, sorry — and when I took 5 seconds to look at the website, which has features like "Then and Now" — "Then we loved styles that were all about rape culture. Now we love styles that are all about consent! Catch the changes hitting stores this holiday season" — it became quite obvious that, even though the site has a Victoria's Secret copyright notice on the bottom and the press release claimed to have quotes from a VS spokesperson, Victoria did not approve this message.
I asked Molly Reagan, who identified herself as "Media Relations with Victoria's Secret's new PINK loves CONSENT line" in her email, to call me, which she did. I asked her if she was really working for Victoria's Secret, and she said yes. When I said I was skeptical that Victoria's Secret would send out a press release with lines like, "While Victoria's Secret is not claiming that 'PINK loves CONSENT' is in direct response to recent criticism, one can easily assume it is an attempt to win back customers it has alienated with its 'rape culture' styles," she said the company had "received a lot of criticism for what happened with their recent fashion show, and they heard a lot from different customers who were angered by the outfits. This is an effort for the company to show that it cares about social issues."
"This is not an official PINK campaign," a Limited Brands (which owns VS) spokesperson told me when I showed her the site. "We are looking into it."
Oh well; nice — albeit not very convincing — prank. (I asked Molly to tell me what the real deal was, but she hasn't gotten back to me.) If only Victoria's Secret focused on empowering women rather than objectifying them! I hope whoever is behind this doesn't get sued for trying to revamp their brand. My only complaint is that you can't actually buy anything off the site, because now I kind of want some underwear that says "respect" on the crotch.