FORCE and College Students Take Credit for Playboy Consent Guide


When a new site was launched yesterday called Party with Playboy announcing that the company was devoting their annual college party guide to issues of rape and consent, and then when said site was quickly revealed not to be the work of Playboy, most people thought it was the work of the group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. They’ve now confirmed that yes, it was them.

Well, sort of. FORCE wants to clarify that while they helped with it (as did hacker “hacktivist” Dan Staples who also helped with the Pink Loves Consent project), the campaign “was mostly carried out by a national conspiracy of college students.” The campaign successfully duped many into thinking Playboy really had produced this content, largely because of fake articles attributed to sites like BroBible and Huffington Post that made it seem valid:

Students from over 25 school across the country banded together to create the historic hoax. Consent enthusiasts hosted consent-themed tailgating parties, played games of “Ask First” beer pong, and excitedly pushed the prank on facebook and twitter, which is how it exploded all over the internet on Tuesday.

Some of the women who were involved say that its important for the mainstream media to actually put out content like a guide to partying with consent, like Sophie Hess, a student at Oberlin College:

“The whole process has made me realize that as easy as it is for people to believe negative sexual messages from the media, it’s also just as easy for them to believe positive ones. It’s both sad and exciting to move on to the next stage of the game, where we’ll have to acknowledge that mainstream conversation around consent really isn’t actually happening, even though it could and should be.”

FORCE is also critical of Playboy’s request that the Party with Playboy site be taken, which is sort of unfair, given that it’d be weird if the company didn’t want it taken down: it’s in clear violation of trademark laws, they didn’t actually make the site and it implies that they have been promoting rape with their previous guides:

Trying to take down a website that is getting thousands upon thousands of people excited about consensual sex? Sounds like a party foul to us! We here at consent conspiring headquarters have one thing to say to Playboy: why not join the consent party, already??!?!! Of course you’re invited! Consent is for everyone!

The goals of FORCE make a lot of sense, and their methods are incredibly effective, especially in an age when protest culture outside of the internet can seem hackneyed. Even more impressive are the many college-age women who banded together because this is an issue they care so much about. Perhaps the next step is approaching a brand like Playboy first before forcing them to deny that they made something that became so popular so quickly and seeing if they want in on it. Perhaps its naiveté, but given what we know about their history as a largely progressive company, I’m not sure they’d say no.

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