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Local Activist Group Pranks Playboy

FORCE: Upsetting Rape culture, the group behind the takeover of Victoria’s Secret website late last year, struck again last week when, with a “national conspiracy of college students,” they created a fake Playboy College Guide site, partywithplayboy.com, which was timed to come out just before Playboy’s actual party-school guide. “Every year Playboy releases the ultimate guide to campus life: our infamous party school list,” the introduction begins, realistically enough. In the next paragraph, it changes tone dramatically. “Somewhere in the countless hours we spent tallying up co-eds and scoring beer pong, we lost track of the most essential element of the Playboy lifestyle: sexual pleasure. Rape is kryptonite to sexual pleasure. The two cannot co-exist. For our revised party guide to live up to our founder’s vision, we had to put a new criterion on top. Namely, consent.”

As happened with the Victoria’s Secret PINK loves CONSENT campaign, the Playboy parody immediately attracted widespread national attention. But FORCE organizers Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato say they also knew they had to boost their validity to make an impact, so they created fake versions of the Huffington Post and other news organizations in order to make the Playboy site seem real. Think Progress reported on it as if it were a real story. Huffington Post reposted the fake story on their site and followed up with a real story, while the site BroBible (which FORCE also made a fake version of) rather shockingly concluded its real post on the hoax with: “Even though this is a pretty clear case of brand infringement to our site, Playboy, and the Huffington Post, we’d be remiss not to say that we do agree with the overall messaging, if not the way it was delivered. The world is safe for bros to be feminists too.”

Nagle and Brancato say that most of the work for the Playboy campaign was done by college students around the country, many of whom contacted them after the PINK loves CONSENT action, for which they won CP’s 2013 “Best Culture Jamming.” But culture jamming is only one aspect of the group’s work. “In terms of what we think needs to change in mainstream culture, which is missing two big ideas which are essential to ending rape,” Nagle told City Paper, “one of those ideas is consensual sex. . . . We think consent needs to be there for healthy sexuality. The other big idea that is missing in the American public is how to support survivors. We have models of how to support survivors in private space but not in public space.”

In order to remedy this lack, FORCE is working to try to create a monument to rape survivors on the National Mall. In order to gain recognition for this project, they are attempting to cover the mall in quilts depicting survivor stories. This week they transform Middendorf Gallery at MICA’s Station Building into a work center for an “open sew” until Sunday, Sept. 29, when they will display the quilts and congregate for a picnic outside of Penn Station from 2 to 6 p.m.

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