Love & Sex

Eight Proud Moments in Underactivism

Pin it

Sticking it to the man, one lacy undergarment at a time.

Recently, activists appropriated Victoria's Secret's PINK campaign to create Pink <3's Consent, a mock line of panties featuring phrases like "No Means No" and ask first. To commemorate the noble action of using one's unmentionables to… mention things, we're taking a look back at recent highlights in underactivism.

 

FEMEN Marches on Kiev in Progressive Degrees of Nudity, 2008

Outraged by the Ukraine's rampant sex tourism, international marriage agencies, and institutionalized sexism, Anna Hutsol formed the activist group FEMEN in 2008. The group started with marches in their underwear through the streets of Kiev, with members writing slogans against misogyny and prostitution on their bodies. But after one member made the decision to bare all, FEMEN took to marching topless instead of in their skivvies. After all, boobs speak louder than poster boards.

 

Pink Chaddi Campaign Forces Justice's Hand With Underwear, 2009

In 2009, women entering a pub in Mangalore, India, were brutally attacked by members of the conservative group Sri Ram Sena. Pramod Muthalik, leader of the SRS, made the revival of traditional Indian values one of his chief talking points, calling for a seven p.m. curfew for women and threatening to use roving gangs of priests to forcibly marry any unwed couples seen in public on Valentine’s Day. As a response, a group calling itself The Consortium of Pub-Going, Loose and Forward Women initiated the "Pink Chaddi Campaign" ("Chaddi" is "underwear" in Hindi), which called for hundreds of pairs of pink underwear to be sent to Muthalik’s building on Valentine’s Day. As a result of the increased public awareness caused by the campaign, Muthalik, along with 140 others, were taken into preventive custody by police on Valentine's Eve.

 

Laid-Off Lingerie Workers Hurl Bras and Panties at The Man in Manila, 2009

On June 30, 2009, workers dismissed from underwear manufacturer Triumph International Philippines gathered outside of the Department of Labour and Employment in Manila to protest what they called the "illegal and unjust closure of Triumph International Philippines." They accomplished this by donning the fruits of their labors, marching and carrying signs, and hurling bras and panties willy-nilly through the air. Actually, some of these pictures are quite intimidating — I don't know about you, but if I saw the above gentleman standing outside my office, hurling lingerie at my building with that stoic expression on his face, I'd probably be re-thinking some of my decisions.

 

SlutWalk Begins In Toronto, Takes Off Worldwide, 2011

After a Toronto police officer suggested that women could avoid sexual assault by not dressing like "sluts," Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis decided to get a whole bunch of "sluts" together and march on police headquarters, sparking a tradition that has spread worldwide since. In Barnett and Jarvis' words, "Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work."

NEXT: Chilean high-schoolers making out in their underwear. For justice!

Utah Students Launch "Undie Run," 2011

Protesting against Utah's "uptight" laws, thousands of activists took place in the first annual Utah Undie Run in September 2011. Though organizers have since claimed the event's only purpose is to encourage "Utah to lighten up and to have a great time," participants often take advantage of the blank canvas afforded by a naked body, emblazoning themselves with slogans protesting their cause du jour. The Undie Run returned in 2012, and appears to be on track to reappear in 2013, so Utahians had better get used to seeing thousands of young people jog around the capital in their skivvies. Those poor dears.

 

Protesters Buy Montenegro's Prime Minister A Whole Lot of New Undies, 2012

Montenegro's Prime Minister, Igor Luksic, caused a bit of a flap earlier this year when word emerged that he'd used state funds to buy a pair of underwear while visiting Estonia. This might seem a little slight when compared to most forms of government impropriety, but coming as it did on the heels of various tax hikes and austerity measures, Montenegrins were not pleased. By way of a response, a group called the Network for Affirmation of the Non-Governmental Sector in Montenegro penned the names of various government officials on underwear and hung them across the street from the government building in Podgorica. The effect was twofold: Luksic got an earful, and, providing he doesn't mind that they're labeled with someone else's name, a boatload of new drawers.

 

Chilean High Schoolers Use "Thriller," Underwear, and Kisses For Protests, 2012

When Chile gets heated, Chile gets wild. To protest the violent evictions of schools in Chile, hundreds of high-school students took part protests that featured an odd range of activities: there was an interpretive performance of Michael Jackson’s "Thriller," as well as a day of kissing. The protests culminated in hundreds of students marching to the Providencia Municipality building in their underwear, amidst serious rioting. The conflict's far from settled, but the fact that so many kids decided to take such an awesome, absurdist route to protest instead of, y'know, like, tweeting about it, or whatever, remains an inspiration to us all.

 

Pink <3s Consent, 2012

Recently, renegade feminists appropriated Victoria’s Secret’s Pink line to attack a longstanding tradition of harmful panty messages. Rather than submissive and suggestive phrases like "Sure Thing," the (regrettably unavailable for purchase) Pink <3’s Consent line includes prints like "No Means No" and "Ask First." The mock website is filled with facts about consent, rape statistics, and encouragement for healthy sexual dialogue. Though they're currently under all sorts of heat from Victoria's Secret (for obvious reasons), the Pink <3's Consent people have made their point, proving that even underwear is a great billboard for progressive thought.