Fri., January 3, 2014 8:45pm (EST)

'Playboy' Gets Pranked: Group Flips The Script On Sex
By Stephanie Hughes
Updated: 7 months ago

You can't buy these panties at your local Victoria's Secret. While they mimic the look of that brand's PINK line, they're actually part of a project by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture.
You can't buy these panties at your local Victoria's Secret. While they mimic the look of that brand's PINK line, they're actually part of a project by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture.
Rebecca Nagle sometimes finds herself asking the question: What would Hugh Hefner say?

"The only sex that is good is when it's good for everyone," she says, laughing. "And I've only ever had good sex."

Hefner didn't actually say that. Nagle wrote it.

"But you can really imagine Hugh Hefner saying that," she insists.

Nagle has spent a lot of time studying Hefner. She's one of the directors of a Baltimore-based group called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. The group is interested in promoting consent communicating clearly with your partner about if, when and how to have sex. FORCE argues that the way Playboy talks about consent is problematic including the magazine's annual list of top party schools.

"The way they describe women on the list [makes them sound] like campus perks," Nagle says. "Sort of alongside things like good bars and a good football stadium."

FORCE wanted to change the message, so last September the group created a fake Playboy website. But instead of listing party schools, the site highlighted colleges working to promote consent. Nagle says it's not hard to imagine Hefner getting behind that.

"If you're somebody who's all about sexual pleasure," she says, "it makes total sense that you're somebody who's all about consent."

The website looks like it could have been created by Playboy; there's the bunny logo and language with just the right amount of smugness. FORCE also created fake reports on the fake list from several online outfits, including the Huffington Post and BroBible.com.

Playboy hasn't responded publicly to the prank but BroBible, a site aimed primarily at college-age men, did. Associate Editor Andy Moore agreed with FORCE's message that consent and party-school lists can coexist.

"They didn't say 'Don't have a good time,' " Moore says. "I think there's a way to rank these schools and talk about this while keeping in mind that any sort of terrible behavior is not allowed."

That's something the organizers are hoping more people will think about and not just those who read Playboy or BroBible. They've used other brands notably Victoria's Secret to get that message across.

"Victoria's Secret, in a lot of ways, publicly owns the idea of sexuality," says Hannah Brancato, another director of FORCE. She says the group was concerned with some of the messages Victoria's Secret was placing on its underwear, like "stop staring" and "no peeking."

"The words 'stop' and 'no' are being used as a way to flirt, instead of a way to set boundaries," Brancato says.

So FORCE created a fake Victoria's Secret website and announced the release of a new line of consent-themed underwear.

"Victoria's Secret was apologizing for past styles," she explains. "And instead they were releasing this line promoting consent culture the idea of loving your body, communicating about sex, asking first, no means no."

The hoax fooled a lot of people, including 19-year-old Cinneah El-Amin from Baltimore. She was especially pleased to see models of all shapes and sizes wearing the underwear.

"Being able to look at this prank and see someone who looks like me, who was standing in front of the Victoria's Secret logo, you know, meant a lot," El-Amin says.

The fake Victoria's Secret website received hundreds of thousands of hits. That's comparable to other corporate-targeted pranks. And the Playboy spoof? According to the social-media metrics on Facebook and Twitter, as of last week, FORCE's list had been shared more times than the actual party-school list. Brancato says that shows this kind of activism can be effective.

"We need to change attitudes, and this is how you change attitudes," she says. "By changing the culture we're consuming on a day-to-day basis."

Until that change happens, Nagle and Brancato are planning to keep it up. They have other pranks in the works.


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