Social Change Through Consumerism: Feminist Style
[Amulya] Sanagavarapu, who is finishing up her final semester at the University of Waterloo in Canada, was inspired by a prank from activist group FORCE, which advertised a fake line of “consent panties” from Victoria’s Secret last year. When it was clear that no existing companies were making moves to create the undies — despite obvious interest from would-be consumers on Twitter — Sanagavarapu decided to step up and do it herself.
So Feminist Style was born, and with it a debut line of consent-themed panties and briefs. The collection features different styles for both men and women, detailed with statements like “Ask first,” “Consent is sexy,” and “Only yes means yes,” mixed with messages of body positivity. Her hope is that it will encourage a more thoughtful discourse on consent and sexual boundaries.
“I think having consent panties as a real product out in the market, as actual alternatives to underwear slogans that teach that ‘no’ is a way to flirt (i.e., “No peeking”), would serve as a small step to shifting the culture around consent,” Sanagavarapu wrote to BuzzFeed.
“They aren’t meant to speak for the wearer, and they won’t stop serial rapists, but they may serve as sort of a fun way to initiate conversations about boundaries and what each person is or is not comfortable with. The main goal is to help shift the culture from one that encourages sexual objectification to one that promotes consent education.”
The underwear isn’t available for purchase just yet, but she’s launched a Kickstarter to raise enough money to make the idea a reality. Proceeds from underwear sales will in turn be used to fund feminist advertising.
“Our feminist advertising will mostly be in the form of PSAs that bring awareness to the issues that our products are targeting — so to start with they will target issues of consent and rape culture,” Sanagavarapu told us, citing videos from New Zealand’s “Who Are You?” campaign and YWCA Auckland as examples. “Anything that promotes our products directly will also be done so with models of all shapes and sizes.”
The underwear line is only the first stage for Feminist Style, and Sanagavarapu intends to expand the brand’s horizons with more varied products. But she hasn’t finalized anything just yet.
“Our mission is to ‘sell products that target sexism to promote gender equality’, so as long as we see ads and products with sexism there will always be something new for Feminist Style to do. One obvious example of a product that fits this description — which may or may not be our next product — is how the only Halloween costumes for women are all ‘sexy.’ There’s nothing wrong with any woman choosing to wear a revealing costume, but when that’s the only option available you know that something is off.”