New Line of Tween Panties Promotes … Abstinence?

The other day, @msmagazine received this response (left) to a tweet about sexual assault on college campuses–a topic we’ve been covering a lot lately in light of our “Click!” blog carnival, National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Vice President Joe Biden’s recent announcement of a nationwide initiative to combat rape on campuses. Not to mention the brand-new investigative report on rape in the latest issue of Ms.

So, naturally, we clicked. And what we found was a frilly pink website devoted to selling underwear.

Needless to say, more explanation was in order.

About Us

Having high schoolers of our own, we realize that at one point or another, teenagers are going to want to date … We’ve decided there’s no reason to get uptight about it, after all, finding a romantic partner is a normal and healthy part of adolescent life. But, why not help our teens make wise choices while they navigate the dating scene? We created a line of underwear to use as conversation starters to help reinforce family morals as they relate to relationships and dating. One part Victorian (who are we kidding?), three parts frisky, these adorable undies put new meaning to saying it loud and proud.

What better way to reinforce family morals than by wearing underwear that doubles as a conversation starter, right? If the junior prom after-party starts to get dull, just take off your pants and encourage a dialogue! Awkward first date? Lift up your dress and ask for some feedback!

On the one hand, these panties were created by parents to encourage their teens to remain abstinent. On the other hand, these are panties. A strange choice of merchandise to hawk in the name of chastity.

Stranger still, these 75-percent “frisky” garments seem to be closely tied to a religious agenda. The very name of the line implies a Christian affiliation–subbing “your mother” for Jesus in the familiar WWJD. So what’s really going on here? Let’s take a closer look at some of the site’s offerings.

The messages on these panties–”Dream On,” “Zip It!” and “Not Tonight”–coyly indicate non-consent to a potential romantic partner. The marketing campaign confirms this:

But the whole concept of abstinence-promoting underwear makes about as much sense as commemorating sobriety with flasks instead of coins at AA meetings.

It isn’t just dumb, it’s dangerous. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging your children to choose abstinence before marriage; there is something wrong, however, with not empowering them with the knowledge and tools to make that choice and confidently communicate it to romantic partners. Without pulling down their pants.

What’s more, the panties can really muddy the notion of “consent” in young people’s minds. What if a teen girl wears “Not Tonight” panties and decides at some point in the evening that she actually does want to have sex? Nothing wrong with that, but the dissonance between the panty-message and her ultimate decision may well reinforce the mistaken idea that “no means yes” in her partner’s mind.

This bizarre line of undergarments calls to mind what Jessica Valenti dubbed The Purity Myth in her book of the same name. In an interview, she argues that oversexualization of women in the media and pop culture has begun to intersect with the conservative movement, resulting in the fetishization of virginity:

If you are telling young women over and over that what’s most important is their virginity … then you’re sending the message that it’s the body and sexuality that defines who they are … With the virginity movement it’s adults–and a lot of men–deciding what appropriate sexuality is for younger women. It’s anyone and everyone except young women themselves defining (their) sexuality.

This is ridiculously displayed in WWYMD’s promotional videos, which feature abstinence-friendly songs and wind-blown girls posing suggestively in their skivies next to fully-clothed young men. Here are some of the choice lyrics:

No kiss, no touch, no makin’ out
hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey…
When men see a body like this, they have a tendency to dismiss
that I got anything upstairs, but I got me a lot of brains up there
Let me make it clear, so there’s no mistake
my life’s goin’ good, there’s too much at stake
to just hand it over, to any man…

The second video is even more explicit and confusing, combining gratuitous crotch shots with pro-chastity song lyrics:

I am waitin’, for my time in life,
I am waitin’ for love.
I am waitin’ on the world to change
I am waitin’ on you

Abstinence-promoting strategies as ineffective as these will certainly prove to be are, unfortunately, not unprecedented. Just last week it was reported that the Candies Foundation paid Bristol Palin more than $260,000 to be a pro-abstinence spokesperson–seven times the amount they spent on actual teen pregnancy prevention programs. With the rise of what’s been called the chastity-industrial complex, peddling purity is big business. Once again, social and religious conservatives say one thing, do another and wait for the money to roll in.

ABOVE, TOP TO BOTTOM: Screenshot of Twitter message, WWYMD logo, Items from WWYMD line, Promotional flyer from the What Would Your Mother Do? Facebook page.


Comments

  1. "There’s nothing wrong with encouraging your children to choose abstinence before marriage."

    I disagree with this. Sex compatibility is an important part of any relationship, but especially one that is supposed to be for life. It's irresponsible not to find out what your sexual compatibility with your partner is before you make that lifetime commitment. Plus, it's just unhealthy and sex-negative to me to tell a girl that her sexuality is something she needs to keep on lock-and-key for a future husband. (And I think it's unhealthy and sex-negative to tell boys that as well, for that matter.)

    Plus, considering that same-sex couples still can't get married in most states, it's rather heterosexist to tell a girl that who may turn out to be lesbian or bisexual.

    • Hey RRR,

      I see your point and I don't disagree with your perspective on any of the points. I do think that it's ok to choose to seek one monogamous partner during the course of your life, and not to have sex until, or unless, you find someone who you think is that person. I don't think it's a realistic thing, and I do think it's almost always framed in a problematic way, since it's a tradition steeped in patriarchy, but ultimately I think that as long as one's sexuality is self-determined and their interactions are consensual, the specifics of the choices aren't my concern. But of course that's not what the conservative Christian pro-abstinence movement is promoting.

    • re: sexual compatibility.

      This is only true in the case of sexually experienced people. If a person has experience with only one person, has learned with that person , then compatibility isn't likely to be an issue. Once we bring multiple sexual experiences into the picture, things change.

      I'm not saying this is strictly definitive, but I believe that emotional compatibility and physical attraction are at the top of the list. If those two things are true and strong, the rest can and will be learned.

      Just my opinion.

      • I can't say whether anyone else would agree with you, but my personal experience directly contradicts your suggestion that sexual compatibility isn't an issue when both members of the couple have only had sexual experiences with one another.

        In short: I spent over three years with the guy who was my first-everything (kiss included), and I was his first-everything. I'd had the whole "save your virginity!" message drilled into me throughout high school, to the point where I was told that he and I would "learn" to be compatible in Things Sexual.

        Not so much, given that every single sensual/sexual encounter we had during those three years ended up with one or both of us crying. We were simply Not Compatible, and all the emotional connections and physical attraction in the world couldn't get us past that. It wasn't until I accepted that that I was able to understand and decide for myself what I *did* want in a relationship.

    • My parents always gave me all the information I asked for (and some extra I didn't want to know haha) but in the end always told me that I should wait until *I* was ready, and to be safe and mindful of all the possible outcomes/repercussions/benefits of sex when that time came, regardless of it was the next day, or in 10 years, or when I was married. When I had sex for the first time, I did so because I was ready to do so. I don't think there is any better way to teach children accountability, self worth and self respect than to teach them that they are the keepers of their own sexuality and it is theirs to act upon as they see fit. Simplified, my body, my choice. I really see that statement as embodying ALL the choices we make with our bodies, sexual or otherwise.

    • I took that line to mean that parents have the right to instill whatever values they want in their children, with which I agree to a point. A parent has the right to pass on whatever values they think are important (even if they are values with which I or society completely disagree), whether that’s “do as I say,” or “do as you want,” which, in a way, are the same thing (because if dad says, “do what you want,” and you do whatever you want, you’re still doing what dad says…). All parents have an agenda. But of course, the kid has the right to completely go against the lessons of childhood as an adult, and the law has the right and duty to intervene when said values are endangering the child.

      I also think, though, that if a parent is concerned about her child’s safety, she has to arm her with all the knowledge and tools she needs to protect herself, including education about sex. Saying, “don’t do it ’til marriage,” isn’t enough. The conversation cannot end there. Why wouldn’t a parent want to inform a child as much as possible about sex? Don’t you want to get to your kids before their peers do?

    • This kind of bullshit is only going to backfire upon the participants in question when they finally get married and can’t preform sexually because they don’t know how to do it at all (plus they’ll be needing the help of people like Dan Savage in order to figure out how to have sex!)

      Teenagers need to learn how to say ‘Yes’ before the say ‘No’ first.

  2. This is a great analysis how this kind of foolishness tangles up ideas of consent, education and communication. Even more creepily, video of panty-clad girls with a fully clothed boy reminds me the Barely Legal style of virginity-themed porn. All the signifiers are the same and it's very chilling.

  3. Let's also keep in mind that the crazy tweet that was sent somehow connected (in the tweeter's mind) to sexual assault. This confuses me and only has one possible explanation: The stance of these abstinence-only promoters is that both premarital sex and rape are morally equivalent and can be stopped with misogynist, sex-shaming underwear made for *females.* This implies that 1) there's something wrong with girls expressing and taking control of their sexualities and 2) rape is the victim's fault due to her corrupted family values. WTF?

    • Hey Nicole,

      I absolutely agree! There's clearly more than one disconnect here, and a really f'd up conception of consent.

  4. Robin O'Grady says:

    Great article.

  5. Lily Foss says:

    Look at all the white girls!

    • Hahaha exactly! White, cis girls… Every single one of them.

      • Jessie says:

        Hardly surprising given that the makers of these pants (panties? knickers? Whatever they’re called in the States) are pro-abstinence and likely of a holier-than-thou Christian persuasion with the reference to WWJD. Imagine if they’d used transsexuals in their promo videos. Their target market would run a mile.

  6. Let us clairify. By no means was our tweet intended to be “connected” to sexual assault. Our tweet puts the focus on media bombardment of sexual messages aimed at teens. And, while we appreciate the time you put into researching our website, we’re afraid you missed the message.

    We’re mothers. Some of us have daughters leaving home for college. The underwear was meant as a fun way to open lines of conversation with our daughters, reminding them of the family morals they were brought up with with the hopes that they “make wise choices” (whatever that may be for them). We hoped “conversation underwear” would lead to great mother/daughter talks. The messaging is meant as a reminder to the girl to make wise choices.

    We’re not sure why you felt we are promoting abstinence. It is not mentioned on the site. We’re promoting “wise choices.”

    We take the issue of rape and consent very seriously. In fact, we have been contacted by several “consent program” websites hoping to tie in with us. The Consensual Project, Hooking Up Smart and HUSH to name a few.

    Oh, and before we go…the “crotch shots” on our videos were meant to showcase the product.

    • Thanks for your response, I appreciate your feedback and I'm sorry that you feel like I missed the point.

      However I maintain that this line is problematic.

      I definitely noticed that you never explicitly came out in favor of abstinence, instead opting to take a laissez-faire stance on how to interpret the underwear, especially with this statement:

      “A bit serious, a tad fresh…take them any way you’d like. We understand that to some, 'What would your mother do?' is a loaded question. We won’t name names, but you know who you are…don't you? We’re not here to judge, after all, what would mom say?”

      So to the reader, you’re saying that these panties could mean anything, it just depends on what your mom was like. And I think there are a number of problems with that:

      1.You can’t just say that the message on a pair of panties is open for interpretation when the message is “Not Tonight”. That’s not open for interpretation. No means no. If these aren’t necessarily meant to promote abstaining from sex, then they shouldn’t say “Not Tonight”. You can’t have it both ways.
      2.The fact that the videos were set to songs with pretty transparently pro-chastity lyrics (I am waitin…) makes this seem like a coded endorsement of abstinence.
      3.The fact that the marketing of this line tries to walk the fine line of appealing to the conservative set without alienating people who might want to wear these ironically makes it seem like making money is the bottom line most important thing here, and that profit takes precedent over making sure that the message of non-consent, however ridiculous its form might be, isn’t made into a joke or used in a way that promotes the idea that no means yes.

      If these are just supposed to remind girls to make wise choices, then they should say “Make Wise Choices!” But they don’t, they say things like “Zip It!”

      There are some moms out there to whom making a wise choice would mean using a condom or taking birth control. Indeed, I think a lot of people think that those would be wise choices. But there isn’t a pair of panties that says “Use Protection!” in this line. You say you only mean to help parents tell girls to “make wise choices”, but the products you offer have already dictated what those choices are. Again, you can’t have it both ways, although from a business perspective I can certainly understand why you’d want to try.

      And as for your point that “the "crotch shots" on our videos were meant to showcase the product,” yes, I know. And they did. The best way to get a good look at this product is to zoom in as close as possible on the crotch…

    • Rachel Wirth says:

      While I completely understand why, as mothers, you would be worried about the 'media bombardment of sexual messages aimed at teens,' I cannot even begin to understand how you thought that this type of underwear would in some way combat that. Logically speaking, I could understand a t-shirt, but not underwear. I can honestly tell you that if my mother had given me such a product in order to start a 'wise choices' conversation, I would have been furious at being so patronized (my mother never would have done such a thing though). I happen to work with teens, in addition to having studied Film and Television Theory, and I have observed, written and read about this problem for years. So have many others: Ariel Levy's 'Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture' has an entire brilliant chapter in which she discusses teens and sex-filled media messages. Therefore while not denying the existence of such a problem, I respectfully suggest that you have not given enough thought to the cultural implications of choosing underwear as your message bearer; I would go as far as to suggest that you have chosen something that is too closely connected to the messages that you are trying to avoid, and that as a result, the message is lost.

    • socialjerk says:

      I'm a bit confused as to why a mother would need novelty undies to open the lines of communication regarding sex.

    • beautifulthingfromthenorth says:

      HAHA WWYMD just got TOLD!

      You go Annie!

      • beautifulthingfromthenorth says:

        I mean don’t actually go… you know what I mean.

        I’m always scared what I write on the web will be misinterpreted.

        I just meant it was awesome that that company’s comment was met with such a worthy agrument.

        :-) Gotta love Ms. Mag

  7. hmmm don't they make these for males? Or are women suppose to be the only chastity bound humans? Who are men suppose to have sex with?

    • Women don't want to have sex, and when they have sex, they don't enjoy it. Unless they're sluts. Then we should all throw garbage at them and shun them.

      That was sarcasm/mocking the far-right, BTW.

  8. Preaching about abstinence; you're doing it wrong.

  9. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Everyone freaks out and automatically making it a religious thing! And I love watching everyone freak out and make everything about how they promote only abstinence. Classic feminism poorly written. Awesome.

    • I'm sorry, what does this comment even mean?

    • BraveNewGrrl says:

      I hardly think anyone here is freaking out…

      It’s not difficult to read between the lines on what this product is offering. If the owners of this business care about girls making ‘wise choices’, why are they pushing an abstinence-biased product?

      In fact, why are they pushing a product at all?

      If the goal is to get mothers and daughters talking about sex – whatever their advice is (abstinence, or not) – why not create a website that encourages an open dialogue between mothers and daughters, while using this transparent line of ‘humour’?

      More troubling is that, as others have noted, this product only targets girls – shouldn’t their sons be making ‘wise choices’ too?

      I would bet my right kidney that this is nothing more than an attempt to push conservative religious ‘values’ to both adherents of said values, and to an unwitting audience of mothers or girls who think they’re cute.

      Where you got “Classic feminism poorly written.”, I have no idea.

    • Yeah, because scaring teens away from sex (a completely natural desire in all human beings), as opposed to educating them on how to approach a situation safely is totes effective! And I can’t think of an abstinence-only policy that isn’t based on God fear…

      Glad this was so entertaining for you!

  10. "We know you'll make wise choices (after all, you were raised by wonderful moms!). We just want to provide you with cute reminders to help you make an impression – somewhat discreetly. So, go ahead – make a statement. Because it's always the right time to be a little more nice, a bit less naughty and a whole lot playful!"

    I was also raised by a wonderful dad. And some people are raised by two awesome dads. (Not that I would in any way want either of my parents, or anyone else's, to associate with this creepy 'Parents As Keeper of My Chastity' thing, just wanted to touch on the continuing marginalization/devaluation of men's contributions to their families.)

  11. um.. your mother got pregnant…so it seems the wrong question to be asking

  12. Wow. What would my mother do? My mother lost her virginity at 14 and gave birth to my brother at 18. My grandmother taught my mother (and her sisters, one of whom gave a baby up for adoption at 15) abstinence-only.

    And creepy zoom-ins on the guy’s face… Why?! I can hear him thinking, “Hookin’ up with the one that says ‘Not Tonight’ after the shoot, fer sher, bro!” bahahaha.

  13. Like Lucy pointed out, the young women are all white. And they're all blonde. And what is up with four women to the one guy? He's having a good time obviously. And "waiting for the world to change?" Guess you'll be waiting for the second coming then.

    I am a mother to two young men – and those videos make me want to puke. Did I mention yet that I am also a Christian – and they still make me want to puke? I can hear it now…"Okay my dear son, you're going to meet some nice girls someday and they might be wearing some special panties. When you see the panties you should see if there is any writing on them and then interpret the writing. For instance if it says Dream On, that might mean you should stop, but if she is pushing your head down to her crotch, to where you can actually read them, then it means go ahead. But then we all know that she's not really nice anymore.

    Gag, gag, and double gag.

  14. I don't think these underwear are meant to conjure up hidden messages. As a strong woman who advocates independence and strength in our young women, I see these underwear as being whimsical and a novelty–and nothing more.

  15. How bizarre! This line from Annie Shields cracked me up:
    "But the whole concept of abstinence-promoting underwear makes about as much sense as commemorating sobriety with flasks instead of coins at AA meetings."

  16. use your brain says:

    I think this is a hilariously bias article written by someone who is obviously so anti-abistinence that they couldn't stomach something that "might" somewhat promote it. Honestly, whats the issue? Have you seen the tween panties that are being sold on the market today? A good amount of them have various things printed on them, many right on the crotch, not the waistband as this product is. The prints range from playful to adult rated but these are not a problem? If a parent chooses to buy thier child these in hopes that it will remind them to make a good decision or open a conversation instead of some other message printed like sexy, boy toy, a ghost saying boo, girl power, or some other line or print, why should they not have the option available to them?
    Overlaying your own social agenda on thier message and claiming they must be tied to abstinence groups or some "horrible" christian message, all of which from what I read in the article there is no evidence of, is simply intellectual cowardice based on your own inability to cope with your own inadequacies. Providing anecdotal evidence based on your opinion such as "they use this song" or "how dare they use a crotch shot to promote girls panties"(which incedentally every manufactuer does) only further demonstrates the lack of critical thinking from the author.
    Regardless of which side you are on the other has the right to teach thier children how they see fit, and to buy them the clothes they think they should be wearing. Its not a question of right or wrong its a question of personal liberty. If you don't agree with thier message thats fine, you are not required to agree with or buy thier product. They are not required to agree with you or buy thier children clothes which they feel are not appropriate or they just dislike.

    • BraveNewGrrl says:

      This isn’t a boycott campaign – it’s a speculative article about a company with an arguably hidden agenda. Decrying what’s written in the article because you don’t agree with the sentiment is entirely hypocritical.

      Perhaps your unwillingness to look at this from another perspective is “simply intellectual cowardice based on your own inability to cope with your own inadequacies”.

      Lastly, where in the article, or the comments section, is anyone saying ‘Don’t buy these! Go to Target and get your girls some of those promiscuity panties! This abstinence shit should be banned!’? No one here has stated that parents are required to “buy thier children clothes which they feel are not appropriate or they just dislike.”

      It sounds like you have your fundy-panties in a bunch.

      • use your brain says:

        Actually I have no opinion on the issue because it really doesn't bother me either way. My opinion on underwear prints is they are simply a gimmick to sell a product. My point was very simply that there is a misrepresentation of the product by association based on an opinion of the type of promotion they used.

        Obviously you are not familiar with Critical thinking or you would know that Sentiment has no bearing in logically analyzing what was written. As I stated above, this really isn't an issue for me either way, save the way a company's product was being misrepresented. I would say the same thing if it were a christian group attacking a product like soly based on thier opinion that they didn't like the way it "might" be viewed.

        To answer your last question the last paragraph presented information that had absolutely nothing to do with the product. It did however show a bias against "pro-abstinence" groups and attempt to associate the company with groups to which there is no evidence there is any link to. Take this last comment,

        "With the rise of what’s been called the chastity-industrial complex, peddling purity is big business. Once again, social and religious conservatives say one thing, do another and wait for the money to roll in."

        Regarless of which "side" of this you are on, these two sentences present bias against the "social and religious conservatives" group, and the opinion that who ever this group is, which is completely up to assumption, is corrupt, devious, and only after you money.

        • Whoa, OK, this one went over my head…

          Just to clarify, I see why you might think that this p.o.v. is biased, but to be fair, this is a feminist site, and I'm a feminist, so, yeah, things we write are going to have a feminist perspective. And that often means, for me at least, being critical of social and religious conservatives.

          • use your brain says:

            Hi Annie,

            Please do not misunderstand, I am not upset at all. A colleague of mine showed me your article and wanted to know what I thought. Let me elaborate on what I mean, it was not meant as an insult.
            When you present an argument against something you should have a factual base of criticism. Just because your a feminist does not mean you should make emotional or unfactual assumptions about a product or company without fully investigating it.

            The company site says this products intent is "a line of underwear to use as conversation starters to help reinforce family morals as they relate to relationships and dating." You attribute this as thier attachment to a "conservative christian" group with no reason other than than, because you think they are, as the base of your argument. This presents a very weak minded argument that only appeals to those who agree with your viewpoint. (weak minded is terminology in the critical thinking process not an insult)

            If you are only targeting people who agree with your viewpoint then you will have no issues. If your goal is to persuade people of a different viewpoint, or someone who looks for evidence to back up what you write, then you will run in to issues with this type of nondescript writing. In fact this type of writing only empowers critics of your way of thinking.

            Once again this is not meant to insult you or attack you, in fact I was told by my colleague that she thought I wouldn't be able to get any type of reply but a defensive reponse from someone feeling insulted. I felt I had a 50/50 shot at a thoughtful reponse and whoever loses buys lunch. :)

          • Hi use your brain,

            No need to worry about me feeling insulted or attacked, I have pretty thick skin, believe it or not. I would point you to my comment in response to the company, which is somewhere down the thread. It helps further elucidate my position in response to many of the points you bring up, like how I decided that there was an abstinence-oriented message here (though I know and have admitted that it's not explicit) and why exactly I think that these messages are problematic, even if they're not necessarily pro-abstinence. I think reading it will help you see my train of thought.

            Beyond that, I don't really think there's anything I can say other than that I think we just disagree about this. I appreciate your critique, both of my logic and my writing. I have the privilege of working with some excellent editors, and I remain confident in what I've put forth with their help.

            I'm not sure whether you or your friend your bet, but I hope you both enjoy your lunch!

        • I'm totally shocked to see you blithering on about "reason" and "critical thinking" vs. "emotion." Typical feminist-site troll, lecturing the women on how our teeny widdle gurly-brainz are "emotional" and "sentimental," vs. your "logical" d00dly one.

          BTW, research does show that emotion plays as much a role in moral thinking as reason does. Plz to be reexamining your dualism as well as your sexism and male privilege, kthx.

    • Hi use your brain,

      Thanks for your feedback. I understand that you're upset. I'm not sure how to respond to the claim that this has something to do with:
      "intellectual cowardice based on your own inability to cope with your own inadequacies."
      but if you could expand on that I might get a better idea of what exactly you mean. Then, maybe I could take a good hard look at my own inadequacies and see how I'm failing to cope, being a coward, and thus writing this, and ultimately change my coping skills. I'm all about self improvement!

      In the meantime, I know there are all kinds of problematic underwear out there, but people have already written about a lot of them, so I stuck to this particular kind.

      But I think you and I agree on your last point: people are free to wear whatever they want, no matter what I think. I never called for censorship of this product, and, what's more, for a struggling independent retail line, all publicity is good publicity, so I might have even helped them out a bit.

    • It was a biased article, I'll give you that. It didn't bother me, because I agreed with it for the most part, but that part can't be argued. And I also agree that in comparison to some things teenagers do anymore, nothing wrong with underwear that covers. It is actually pretty cute underwear. The point the site raises though is that it seems counter productive to make underwear as a conversation starter. T-shirts, not so much. And I think that's what bothers the author. It's not abstinence that's a problem. The problem lies in the approach. How's a guy going to see the message even on the waistband? If he's getting in her pants. And if she's claiming to wait, what's a guy doing in her pants after she's said no?

      Now if the girl choses to wear it, and it's a personal reminder, then I suppose you could say all arguments are out the window, except maybe that some could find it odd, but hey to each their own at that point.

    • It's about "personal liberty" only if you're the sort of wingnut who thinks that parents own their children and are entitled to treat them like property. Which is especially true for the daughters of wingnuts.

  17. What would MY mother do? Do you really want to know? :)

  18. Young man says:

    Why is this message (the not tonight thing) usually directed at girls? If a guy want's to "have his way" with a girl, and he's being a bit pushy about it, a message on her undies isn't gonna do much. If anyone needs a catchup on moral values, it's the young men. Can we have a line of undies for boys reminding them that the girl they want to use is a human too? that no means no? A lot of people seem to go at this issue from the wrong angle

    • You're completely right. It's a 2 way road. Men are very pushy, no matter what you tell them (no offense to the poster). Some lay see a t-shirt like that, get the hint, and move on, because they realize it'd be a wasted effort and who wants to waste time when it won't get them anywhere but seeing that on underwear, even as modest as this underwear is, registers differently.

      • leandrasmiles says:

        i agree ….alot of men are very aggressive when it comes to sex. they are usually the initiators. and when it comes to youth (which this type of merchandise is aimed for) they tend to be impulsive and ego centric so i think these panties wont do anything except for cause ONE conversation and that is between the person who gives the panties to the girl and the girl who receives them. I too am wondering why the weight and burden of controlling sex is falling on the girls. There is no comparison product for young boys who are proven to be the aggressors….there are social pressures on young girls to be sexy and not have sex, it can be a pretty hard thing to accomplish, damn near impossible when your parents would rather give you cute panties then teach you how to say no and create a safe environment for you to come and talk to them when your sexuality begins to bloom.

    • I'm all for young men being reminded that women have bodily autonomy, but why do you assume that non-marital sex is all about men "using" women? Haven't you ever encountered women who enjoyed sex for its own sake? Also, why is sex something that women "have" and men "get" from them, rather than a mutually enjoyable activity between two (or more) people of whatever genders?

  19. Gleamgirl7 says:

    Your blurb caught my eye so I visited the website. Are we looking at the same one? I came away from it with the completely different view. I see this as light hearted and fun. I see no mention of abstinence nor anything reflecting a religious background. Looks like you jumped to your own conclusion on this one. There seems to be a meanness and negative tone to your article. Lighten up!

  20. From a mother of a teenage daughter and son, I think these panties are such a cute idea. They are not designed to promote abstinence. They are meant to promote discussion and fun. I think people are taking the message way too seriously. Drink some decaf! There is no religious propaganda hidden in this clothing brand's message. No underwear are going to persuade or dissuade a young girl to have sex or not. She will decide that for herself hopefully without the guidance of her undewear. Reminder: our country is founded on free speech, not free hate.

    • dark matter mobivus says:

      Discussion, riiiigggghhhhttt. Last I checked, if I was seeing someone's underwear I was either trying to look away or I wasn't too focused on the underwear (maybe the chest area or groping around in the dark, but definitely not focused on the undies).

      Tell me, what do the phrases: 'zip it,' 'not tonight,' and 'dream on' communicate to you? Ignore what has been said either by the article or the producers of the product. To me they say, "no," and the lyrics from the promotional videos communicate abstinance even if they don't use that particular word. It is obvious this is a push for abstinance using cute undergarments. Mind you, I don't think it will be a successful one.

      To be honest, the more I read about this product, the more I hate the whole concept behind it. Even the information on WWYMD is unnerving to me. Not to mention that the whole reason for the post of this article was due to the fact that WWYMD sent the above ad as a tweet in response to something regarding sexual assualt. Now, explain to me how it promotes discussion and fun in that context (also, explains any meanness you might encounter in the article).

    • "Free hate"? I guess that anything that dares to criticize fundie xtian propaganda is "hateful"…

  21. A bit sensationalized, don't you think? I'm not sure how much journalistic integrity went into your fact finding, but you seem to have missed the mark. Maybe your point was to simply offer your opinion, but you did more than that. You saw things that weren't there and reported them as facts.

    To the people at WWYMD…I'm ordering a pair of underwear for 2 reasons: 1) They're cute. 2) Because of the article.

    • This is a political-advocacy blog, not a straight journalism site. Also, IMO, the author is reporting things that you are blind to because of either a lack of education in how they work or ideological blinders.

      Also, I feel sorry for your daughters.

  22. Elisabeth says:

    Personally I see these underwear encouraging young girls to show off their panties. I know I would've. And it would have led to more than just showing off the cute little slogan on my underpants.

    I recommend buying them if you want your daughter to be a slut.

  23. I read almost all of these comments and was surprised that no one mentioned that, particularly in the one girl/one man video, the guy was CLEARLY much older than the young woman. Is anyone besides me disturbed by that?!?! Comments about only white girls, blonds, and four females to one male were mentioned, but not what I thought was a clear age discrepancy. Among the many issues I have with this line of “conversation starters”, this is one I thought worth commenting on.

  24. What would your mother do? Well my mother has sex, so have sex? Where is the logic in this. And why on panties? Let's teach girls to make their own decisions about their sexuality, and if they do not want to have sex then lets show them ways to just simply say "no". Not, "hold on" let me give you my answer by zipping down my pants, just read my panties they say, "not tonight"…. so maybe tomorrow? WTF! If you need a panty conversation starter to speak with your daughter about sex, then that is just really sad. If I saw these panties at any junior's department I wouldn't think anything of it. But for a website to be name WWYMD? which is really awkward because obviously my mother has had sex, and then say their mission or about us is to reinforce family morals, which could be taken as abstinence, really doesn't make any sense. How can you sexualize abstinence? It's so gimmicky, no young girl is going to unzip her pants to read her panties to remember her family morals. This just doesn't make any sense and i'd rather not think of my mother when I am in a sexual situation. GEESH!

  25. I see the merit in it, but I tend to agree that I think they went about it all wrong. The fact it's called what would your mother do, religious or not, is talking more about thinking about what your parent will say, not what you feel is the best choice for you. I'm not slamming abstinence at all but it just seems invasive and weird. Because I would totally affiliate what my mom would say about something when I look at my underwear. That's just weird.

    I do like the song choices, in the sense that they're encouraging self respect, and I think, abstinent or not, that is a HUGE part in choosing where to go next in life for a woman. Sadly, it's not as important for men, but I won't go into that because that's an entirely different ball park.

    I appreciate their efforts, but I feel it's a bit…misguided (there's probably a better word). The products are cute, albeit a bit over priced (come on I'm not paying $13 for one pair of underwear, anywhere), and they're trying to take a teenaged perspective on it, which is more than most. But, as someone posted before, I could see just as many people buying these products for other reasons, and probably not the reasons intended.

    • It's "not as important for men" because abstinence has jack shit to do with "self-respect." In fact, the fundie-propagated abstinence message tells girls, "Your body belongs to someone else, ultimately." How, precisely, does that inculcate "self-respect"?

  26. I'm curious — wondering if anyone has seen victoria's secret's pink line of underwear marketed toward teens and college ladies. Some say "take a bite", "try me", "I want to $%#& you", "stay the night", and a pair that says "yes" when you turn off the lights (glow in the dark).

  27. I know the owner of wwymd? and know the intention is purely to promote healthy discussions between parents / kids on this topic. I am blown away by some of the comments here. I recommend decaf and breathing!

    • Switch to decaf? Are you MAD woman! You'll pry my yrgacheffe from my cold dead fingers.

      Still, I'll take your advice and not leap to conclusions about the intentions of the owner of the product line. But you might also open yourself up to the possibility that the intentions of the writer and readers here are benign. The concern we all share the challenges faced by young girls and women as they mature and have to deal with complex and conflicting messages and pressures from society. That's your aim too, is it not?

      So simply pass along to the owner that the advertisements are, at the very least, confusing to a segment of the population. If she is a good marketer, she will be interested in solving that problem. If she's an amateur, she'll be too wrapped up in her ego defense mechanisms. I see problems in the presentation, but I think there is some merit in the concept. The very whimsical quality of the underwear has merit, to me, because conversations between generations about sex can be stressful to initiate. The underwear allows an opening to start talking. I'm all for talking. Even if I find the promotion of abstinence as the end-all-be-all only valid approach to pre-marital sexuality extremely problematic, (because the thought of my daughter married to some guy with whom she is not sexually compatible is too sad to contemplate) better we should all talk to our kids.

      Your friend, no matter if her aim is to get discussions about sex and life going between parents and children, or simply to sell more panties, if she's savvy, she'll won't recoil from this article, but welcome the information. This is priceless feedback, valid marketing data. She can use it, if she's wise and caring, to revisit those issues that many of us find problematic (the older man and younger girl etc…). And she can use it, if she's smart, to design a new line of panties that will sell to feminist mothers and daughters. Because hey, our money is as green as anyone else's. And it even has pictures of old white men on it, which should make you feel right at home.
      ;)

    • There is no "pure" motive here other than making money from the current fervor over the fetishistic preoccupation with female virginity. If these were male and female underwear styles, this debate would be slightly different.

      These underwear suggest that a woman can't simply say "no," that her "no" needs to be backed up by something being written on a psuedo-chastity belt. This is drawing on established cultural motifs (chivalry and chastity, female submissiveness, and the double standard of supposed "value" of female virginity), like All marketing campaigns do. Those motifs are dis-empowering to women and have been for centuries.

      There is no encouragement of actual conversation that could not be accomplished with t-shirts or wrist bands. The producers chose underwear for sensationalism. Their marketing strategies and promotional choices are highly questionable with the inclusion of older fully clothed males, etc.

      If your friend is not aware of all of these overtones, instead of insulting people here, your time would be better spent cluing her in.

  28. I'm creeped out by the fact that the first male model appears to be significantly older than the teenage girl he's posing with. The second boy appears to be an actual teen, but why does he get four girls? If these videos really wanted to show the product as a tool for empowerment and personal reminders, why have men in the shots at all? Why not have the panties on mannequins for the "necessary" crotch shots, and let fully-clothed models tug the panties above their jeans waistband to show that they have them on? I just don't understand how showing fully dressed young men with half-naked teen girls is doing anyone any good. Also — and I feel like some sort of pervert for noticing this — the girls in the videos have obviously shaved/waxed their pubic hair. I get that these are models and that's pretty much par for the course, but doesn't that send a mixed message? "Wear these panties and say no, but groom yourself in a way that's acceptable to porn-loving men, just in case. *Wink*."

    • It's typical patriarchal messaging. "Be sexually appealing in a mainstream way, but don't step over the line, and especially don't think you're entitled to any pleasure. You exist for the pleasure of others — men to look at now, your husband to use later."

  29. OMG! Trash disguised as morality! What a lot of c**p. The hucksters have found another way to rip off teenagers and idiot parents. Showing a guy your panties is supposed to turn him OFF? Playing the coy virgin went out a long time ago….

  30. "What would your mother do?"

    What if your mother was a slut or had a shot gun wedding?

    What if your mother was Bristol Palin or Octomom?

    What if your mother was Aileen Wuornos?

  31. Girls like cute, sexy underwear. Virgins included. That doesn't mean they intend to show that underwear to someone. The idea that these underwear are intended to literally send a message to a potential parter by "lift[ing] up your dress and ask[ing] for some feedback" is ridiculous.

    It's allowing girls to feel sexy while also reminding them of their choice to wait to have sex until later in life. Wearing sexy underwear doesn't make someone a slut. Taking that underwear off is usually what does the trick.

    • No, taking one's underwear off to have sex doesn't make someone a "slut." The term itself is used to control women who dare to want sex outside of what society deems "acceptable" limits. So long as you continue to endorse slut-shaming, Roberta, you're part of the problem.

  32. SLUT is a word we should OWN just like we came to own Bitch! says:

    Yeah, so I agree. My mom had a lot of pre-marital, teenage sex in the 60′s- she even had gonnorhea once when she was 17. To have encouraged me to do what she did, I don’t think she would have agreed that me feeling confused and vaguely ashamed would have been what she wanted for me. She used to try to hand me condoms when I was going to parties when i was 15. I would always protest, because I knew I wasn’t going to be getting down like that quite yet. She also raised me in the Unitarian Universalist church, and while I was growing up in an urban area rife with poverty, gangs, and the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrial world at the time, I got zero decent sex ed in school (teachers taught strict abstinence only and flat out told our health class that “Condoms are a waste of time and don’t even work half the time.”)- but I got a comprehensive, months-long course in human sexuality at church through the youth program there. We weren’t taught to equate sex with shame, we were taught instead to embrace our sexuality, that sexuality doesn’t have to mean intercourse, that there is a difference between sex and intimacy (!!!), and that having sex before you’re ready to deal with all of its ramifications is not a good idea. I learned to value my virginity as a special experience that could only be had once, and that it would be better to share it with someone I felt valued, respected, and loved by, rather than to give in to pressure. So I ended up sharing that experience shortly before graduation, with a boy I met at a Unitarian youth conference and ended up dating most of my senior year. It was so much better for me to have received that message and have had a positive memory associated with my introduction to sex, rather than to have been made to feel I was doing something wrong by not waiting until marriage. I agree that it’s kind of wrong to put that expectation on young people, although I do like the intent of the product if it’s at least saying, hey, wait until you’re ready!

    I think that we as humans, across cultures, tend to put emphasis on female sexual “purity” and “chastity”, especially in patriarchal societies. I think it’s partially a control thing, partially a way for the cave man to try to ensure he isn’t feeding another man’s offspring. But, I think we put more pressure on young girls than boys, because innately we know it’s a hell of a lot easier for a young man to run from the consequences of sex than it is for a young woman. The stakes are just higher for daughters in a biological sense- evolutionarily, I can see why a parent would want to guard that daughter from boys who don’t necessarily have her best interests at heart and are more concerned with getting their rocks off than anything else. That boy can leave town. Your daughter is stuck with the pregnancy if one results, and with all the dominoes that fall regardless of the choice she makes about it. Not to mention, it’s a lot easier for women to contract STDs than men in a lot of cases. HPV doesn’t do much to men, but to women, cervical cancer can mean death.

    But we SHOULD be campaigning to the young men of the world, Have Some Respect. Treat Her Like a Lady. Be a Gentleman! How would you feel if someone was treating your sister this way? For too long we’ve been glorifying this stupid “pimp”/”player” macho ideal in our culture. (Although, there are similarly crass feminine equivalents out there too)

    I do agree this company should take the things said here seriously for marketing purposes.

    As I don’t have kids, I can’t say how I’d react to this as a parent, but as a single young woman, I LMAO’d at it, thinking, “What would your mother do? HAHA! Well, she had to have had sex or you wouldn’t be here now would you?!” Not tonight? Yeah that’s kind of ambiguous.

  33. Corabella says:

    Why does WWYMD's tweet assume that every teenage girl was raised with the same "family morals"? That being said, I would buy these undies, except that I only buy clothing from ethical, sweatshop-free companies.

  34. Did anybody else notice that all of the ads and marketing is only white models?

  35. "Know someone who has trouble keeping admirers aways on Valentine's Day? Help her out with a pair of conversation underwear that is certain to get the message across!" So, let me make sure I understand this: if guys won't stop harrassing me, because unwated attention is NOT admiring, it's harrassment/stalking (depending on the type and degree), the solution is to walk around in front of my harrassers in a pair of panties (instead of fully clothed)? That's going to send the message I'm not interested? That is the definition of a mixed message.

  36. If they went that far as to have the girl's pants or skirt or whatever off, what's to say they won't just throw the stupid POS's off. These panties will do nothing but make girls, if they follow what is being taught by these panties, do everything but have intercourse. The only way to get a girl not to have sex is to teach her early in life to wait till marriage, if that's what your family believes. But I feel that teens will do as they please, and freewill wins out.

  37. I agree. I do, however, like the “ask first” shirts on the site. If the underwear said “ask first” instead of the potentially confusing “not tonight”, they might be on an okay route toward “yes means yes”.

  38. beautifulthingfromthenorth says:

    I love it when Ms. covers all the stupid, sexist marketing out there.

    I hate it when there are comments that defend the sexist advertisments. Whenever I read comments such as by use your brain I wonder if it’s really the company in disguise as a regular commenter.

  39. “It isn’t just dumb, it’s dangerous.”

    I agree. This reeks of marketers trying to take advantage of a terrible social problem for their own financial gains. Boo…

  40. Just a humblest of unhumble opinions says:

    It’s obviously a marketing gimikk to get stupid conservative’s who fluster at the word “sex” to buy them and expect there daughters to get straight away everything about sexuality, relaitionships and what they (or rather middle aged men) feel they should do for there body. The lyrics are insulting to woman if they sugest there buyable. God there like somethink from the more porno “healthy harold” canpaighn…oh and I find it rather insulting to men..as if there suggesting they only overly-hormonic sex seekers and that “majic underwear” with corny slogans will stop them p.s what would my mother do …well….. ahhhhh….

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