When Victoria’s Secret shows off their next year’s line of lingerie, it’s more what’s in them than on them that draws attention. But this year, a group of feminists hijacked the social media buzz around the event to change that, and Victoria’s Secret was not happy.
The artist collective, Force, launched a sweep of blogs and social networks like Twitter and Facebook with photos of underwear that were supposedly a part of the new Victoria's Secret line being released that day.
It was a part of a wider campaign Force has been leading to oppose the “rape culture” that they see all over, and which they say in many ways is perpetuated by clothing companies like Victoria’s Secret.
“Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as ‘just the way things are,’” the organizers said in an interview this week.
In that short window when people believed it, it seemed like they were pleasantly surprised.
“I’m loving the new @LoveConsent! Victoria’s Secret goes feminist!” one high school student reportedly tweeted.
An employee also tweeted, “I am so happy to currently have a job for a company that stands for something so beautiful!! @LoveConsent #victoriassecret #loveconsent.”
But Victoria’s Secret was not nearly as supportive.
Victoria's Secret demanded that the company that hosted the website take it down. The Twitter account @LoveConsent was shut down and the organizers claimed that their Twitter and Facebook posts were being blocked.
Victoria’s Secret said the campaign was confusing their customers. Force disagreed
“The outpouring of support for Love Consent on facebook, twitter and tumblr wasn't from ‘confused customers'. It was mostly from a lot of young women, like us, who know and are saying exactly what we want," the group published on its website, Upsettingrapeculture.com. “If Victoria’s Secret does not get this message, perhaps they are the ones that are ‘confused.’”
The sites are back up now, since Force was not actually selling anything, just offering commentary.
And even after the hoax was revealed, people have continued to support the project, imploring Victoria’s Secret to actually do it. Others, lacking faith in the company, have simply started making their own.
Force has been organizing and advocating “panty drops,” where supporters make the more positive messaged pairs and leaving them in the bins at Victoria’s Secret stores with the “Sure Thing” pairs.
But really their goal was to increase and improve our discourse on subjects that they felt were unhealthily ignored. And through the, admittedly deceptive, use of social media, they succeeded.
(Zach White is a reporter with the Havre Daily News. He can be reached at email@example.com.)