Wait a minute, do consent panties sound familiar? If they don't, then cast your mind back to 2012, Kate Middleton is in hospital giving birth to Prince George, meanwhile something weird is going on with theVictoria's Secret website. Their pink line, usually featuring pink underwear aimed at teenage girls (as in for them to wear, not being used as ammunition to take girls out) looked kind of different and was telling everyone: "PINK loves CONSENT is more than a style. It's a revolution. PINK loves CONSENT is our newest collection of flirty, sexy and powerful statements that remind PINK panty-wearers and their partners to practice CONSENT."
At the time the line of consent pants were as real as the Victoria's Secret backed revolution. But Sanagavarapu was inspired to make them a reality, hence the Kickstarter campaign.
When this amusing and important site takeover occurred I noted some of the issues with the consent is sexy campaign. Consent is sexy but we need to be clear on what consent is, it's more than just saying yes and letting your partner think 'job done, I asked'. We have to be sure consent does not end up being synonymous with pleasing. Say yes, oh say yes!
The moments I am discussing however are moments I'm assuming my hypothetical consent pants wearer has chosen to put herself in.
It's possible this is the most popular interpretation of the consent pant. However I don't see why they can't be seen as conversation enablers, someone unable to talk consent is unlikely to put on a pair of pants that broach it. Someone inexperienced or anxious about how to bring up their right to say 'stop' at any point without ruining the moment might find they help bring humour to the situation in a teaching moment (a sexy teaching moment!) with a partner simply not aware the they should at no point make assumptions.
The moments I am discussing however are moments I'm assuming my hypothetical consent pants wearer has chosen to put herself in. Sanagavarapu is not discussing the power of pants in those situations: "Targeting sexism and promoting gender equality are two noble goals, but consent panties arenât the way to do this. If anything, they suggest that women are incapable of saying no, and that a man intent on raping a woman will be deterred by a message on her knickers."
It's arguable though that while no, I doubt a rapist usually takes the time to note a woman's pants ('she was wearing them - clearly asking for it!'), the intent man is often known to the woman, is her partner or friend. No, those pants wouldn't stop him dead in his tracks - I don't think that is being suggested. The pants are about encouraging people to foster an attitude towards what rape can even be. We imagine an isolated spot and a drunk woman in a skirt perhaps. Not a situation in which a teenage girl has gone with her teenage boyfriend to a bedroom.
I'm not saying it is the girl or woman's responsibility to teach boys and men about rape and consent. I'm saying it's a group effort to even get the conversation started. Would I wear those pants? No, I have issues with purple and emoticons. Would I like anything that would make a discussion about consent easier? Uh, yes. And by that I mean yes.