Let's Talk About Sex / Miscellaneous / News / Sexuality / Solidarity and Sisterhood

Merging fashion and consent to make a statement

Photo courtesy of Feminist Style via Facebook 

Chandra Kavanagh 

Feminist Style is an innovative Canadian startup brand that is promoting how sexy consent can be. The entrepreneur behind the company is 22-year-old computer science major Amulya Sanagavapu. Feminist Style is in the process of launching a line of consent-themed underwear – for both men and women – that display phrases like, “Ask me what I like” and “Only yes means yes.”

It was a prank perpetrated by the feminist activist group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture that inspired the line. In 2012, FORCE created a website called pinklovesconsent.com, which went viral when users thought Victoria’s Secret was going to be selling a line of consent-themed panties. Women wanted the underwear, but they weren’t actually for sale.

“There were masses of people tweeting that they absolutely loved them [but] no lingerie company started selling them. That’s when I decided to shed the ‘if it was any good it would’ve been done already’ attitude and took things into my own hands,” Sanagavapu said in an email.

Amulya has taken her work experience as a software engineer, together with a great idea, and she is creating an exciting new venture. This University of Waterloo student knows it takes confidence and tenacity to be a business owner, “My time in Silicon Valley helped me develop an entrepreneurial mindset and go from thinking ‘I can’t start a company, I’m just a college student’ to realizing that the people who make a difference in the world aren’t at a completely different level of talent and knowledge — rather, they’re the ones who decided to pursue an idea and learn as they go.”

There are those activists who would argue that feminism and capitalism can’t be reconciled. A central tenet of feminist thought is that exploitation is unjust: if capitalism runs on exploitation, then feminism can’t be capitalist. Amulya argues that the power women have as consumers can be harnessed for social justice.

“We can make a lot of progress by speaking out as consumers and showing that sexism won’t sell. By supporting and encouraging companies to take a stand for social causes such as feminism, we can help shift the culture a lot more than if we were to simply deem anyone selling products as part of the problem.”

Feminist Style is employing a Kickstarter campaign called “Social Change Through Consumerism: Feminist Style” in order to raise money to place the first mass order with the manufacturer. Though backers have already pledged more than $23,000, they are still far shy of their $150,000 goal.

“I will be re-launching the Kickstarter campaign with a smaller funding goal and a subset of the designs, so there will be a 1-month delay from the original plan,” said Sanagavapu.

Despite this setback, Feminist Style has big plans for the future. Its online store is set to launch this summer. M

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