by: Kara Crawford
I am not a big fan of either Victoria’s Secret or their PINK line. I have no fundamental problem with lingerie; in fact, I fully affirm sexy lingerie as one of many ways people can sexually express themselves. What I don’t like is their marketing, with regards to the company as a whole, and their use of women’s bodies in exploitative ways to make a profit, and the way they don’t publicly show any diversity of body types using their lingerie (be it in advertisements or in their fashion show, which, let’s face it, aren’t necessarily geared towards their clientele).
But for me, their PINK line belongs in the category of un-affirmable lingerie, because of its tendency to write “cutesy” (and by that I mean totally-not-ever-acceptable) slogans. I’ve never been the type of woman to put on panties that say things like “sure thing” on them, nor any any other provocative slogans of the sort. For this reason I have very little tolerance for PINK.
When I first heard of PINK loves CONSENT by name only, I thought it couldn’t possibly be the Victoria’s Secret line; of course it was the musical artist we know and love so much, right? Wrong. It was, in fact, supposedly the Victoria’s Secret line, which is simply phenomenal, if you ask me. Pink putting consent-based slogans on their underwear? This is progress.
Slogans of the campaign included “no means no,” “let’s talk about sex,” “ask first,” “consent is sexy,” “talk to me,” “I love my body,” and “listen to what I want,” among others. The models on the website are all different shapes and sizes. Finally, something by PINK that I could get on board with. Maybe, just maybe, I thought to myself, the world is becoming a better place right before my eyes.
On the other hand, it seemed, and unfortunately was, too good to be true. It turned out to be a campaign by a group of feminists to raise awareness about how such slogans as often appear on PINK’s lingerie promote rape culture, which, admittedly, is almost equally as awesome. It got huge amounts of attention and praise and currently lists over 5.5 million members on the site, which leads to some really interesting questions about the potential of an event like this to possibly change things.
After all the interest the site generated, the possibility, however imaginary or far-off it may be, of PINK actually reasonably considering producing a PINK loves CONSENT line could be in the realm of the capitalist logic of supply and demand. Still a very far-off possibility, but wouldn’t it be cool?
The fact of the matter is, young women and girls are growing up in a cultural climate which is increasingly telling them that to be attractive they need to dress a certain way, be a certain body type, act a certain way, be doing certain things sexually by certain ages. All for the sake of sexiness.
The idea that a major company that has influence and that plays a substantial role in promoting an often unsafe environment for girls and young women, effectively apologizing for the ways that they have harmed the self-esteem and dignity of many young women, some even without realizing the consequences of the slogan on their cute new underwear that say things like “good times,” “no peeking,” “party party party,” “let’s dance,” “sure thing,” and the festive “unwrap me,” “ho ho ho,” and “naughty.”
I hope for a world where consent will be the norm; where suggestive slogans on underwear will no longer exist and where they will be replaced not necessarily by lingerie with slogans about consent, but rather will be replaced by a healthy and inclusive dialogue about consent which leads us towards the elimination of the rape culture which we find ourselves so wrapped up in.
But for now, PINK loves CONSENT is a good, creative step towards that.
Kara Johansen Crawford is a graduate of DePaul University, with a BA in International Studies and Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies. Kara has been actively involved in activism and community service for much of her life and is particularly passionate about labor justice, queer issues and engaging faith communities on social issues. Kara is currently serving as a Mission Intern with the United Methodist Church at the Centro Popular para América Latina de Comunicación, based in Bogotá, Colombia. Follow Kara on Twitter @revolUMCionaria and on her blog.