Sexy Boxers and a Whip for Christmas?

Italian Lingerie Store Intimissimi is selling "sexy boxer with whip" for Christmas"
Italian Lingerie Store Intimissimi is selling “sexy boxer with whip” for Christmas”

Dear Blog Readers — the following post is a contribution from one of my Italian blog readers, Isabella Isola, who wrote to me and asked me if I would publish her message. It is her thoughts about some items on sale for Christmas at a famous Italian Lingerie shop (similar to Victoria’s Secret in the US). I am always eager to have more Italian women reading my blog and to have their attitudes and perspectives on some of the issues I write about, so I am grateful to Isabella for sharing her thoughts.

Dear Trisha,

Attached  is a photo of the store window on Via Candia, this morning.

Boxer shorts with whip on sale in the window of Italian Lingerie shop Intimissimi on Via Candia, Rome. Photo by Isabella Isola
Boxer shorts with whip on sale in the window of Italian Lingerie shop Intimissimi on Via Candia, Rome. Photo by Isabella Isola

Intimissimi sells whips, a tool to be aggressive / violent and to hurt others. Intimissimi sells whips in combination with lingerie, thus indicating whips should be used in one’s intimate lives, in conjunction with “making love”, thus implying making love is a violent behaviour that involves pain and suffering.

What is also deeply troubling is that, for any one item to be sold by such a huge multinational company with various brands and locations in dozens of countries across the globe, a very long business process must take place: from creation, to design, to pricing, to manufacture, to advertising, to display, to sale and this process needs to be carried out by hundreds of people, at all levels in the company. All of whom, we can only conclude, believe selling tools to perpetrate violence is part of their company’s mission and is coherent with the message of “corporate social responsibility” they tout on their website.

My message, instead, is aligned with Martin Luther King’s famous phrase: “I have a dream ” … I dream of a non-violent society; and for this reason I think a company like Intimissimi should not sell whips, neither on its website, nor in its stores.

Of course, other companies will continue to sell whips and other “accessories” to perpetrate violence in any kind of situation, but when a company such as Intimissimi sells whips, Intimissimi is mainstreaming violence.

The message is: whips are for everybody, mainstream people should want whips, especially to use in combination with “making love” because making love should be a violent activity for everybody, not just for a few “select” people who buy whips secretively from porn shops with darkened windows.

Which values do we teach children who walk by the Intimissimi shop windows and ask: what is that object for? Do we want children to learn that when adults “play” together, adults’ goal is to hurt each other?

I am writing to report Intimissimi’s message that incites violence so that we can all contrast it together with acts of non-violence that make the world a better place for ourselves, for others and especially for the most vulnerable: children.

In the shop window of Intimissimi (lingerie and men’s underwear) of Via Candia, just a few steps from the Vatican, a pair of men’s underwear in a material looks like black leather is showcased for sale together with a matching black whip.

I think it is indisputable that a whip is an object to perpetrate violence. Even Intimissimi agrees since in its website this men’s underwear is described as “an aggressive pair of boxers”.

Unfortunately, evidence demonstrates that those who perpetrate violence do so against individuals weaker than them.

As you will read also in the website of the new association; strong people do not need to be violent, violence is not a sign of masculinity, nor of female power, nor of lacking sexual inhibitions, nor of being open-minded, nor of being creatively erotic.

Violence is just violence.

Certainly anyone who wants to can buy truck loads of whips and whatever else to perpetrate violence through websites, or porn shops, to be used by itself or in conjunction with any kind of intimate activity.

But, in my opinion, and I think for all those people for whom sexuality is combined with affection, love and mutual pleasure, the fact that a mainstream company pairs violence to men’s underwear and women’s “lingerie accessories”  in a public street a few steps from the Vatican is very, very different than selling the same item in a porn shop or site.

Unfortunately a huge number of cases of violence perpetrated by men against women and children are reported worldwide on a daily basis, so much so that the phenomenon of “woman-cide” (homicides of women for no reason other than because they are women) is being confronted even in Italy. Is it really necessary to add another message of violence and to mainstream violence together with intimate relationships between men and women?

Because the whip is sold by a mainstream manufacturer of lingerie, in addition to being a violent message, it is also offensive to men and women because it implies that if not all, at least a majority of men and women want to use a whip, meaning they are violent, especially while engaging in sexual activities. And there is also a second message that is offensive and disheartening: that if men and women do not use a whip, they are not capable of feeling pleasure.

There are men and women for whom sexuality and the pleasure connected with it, and with a loving relationship with a partner, do not derive from violence.

I ask for your help to make sure that Intimissimi stops selling whips, stops exposing and publicizing in its stores and on its website a message of violence, which is offensive and degrading to women and men. Drawing inspiration from Martin Luther King’s famous phrase: “I have a dream ” … I dream of a non-violent society .

Thank you,

Isabella Isola


11 thoughts on “Sexy Boxers and a Whip for Christmas?”

  1. All very valid points, but don’t you think this idea of putting whips alongside underwear is a sales tactic promoted by books like Fifty Shades of Grey? Me, I’m actually a grandmother, who visited Intimissi in Padova this very morning to purchase a fluffy dressing gown. Not a whip in sight! Well written letter though and I do agree with everything your contributor said.

    1. Thank you Orna — I think you are right. It probably is a sales tactic encouraged by books like “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I have never read it, but I probably should so I know what everyone is talking about. I am glad you got your flurry dressing gown in the Padova Intimissimi this morning (ah c’mon, you can tell us, did you get one of those sexy boxers and a whip for your husband???) Just kidding. If I got something like that for my husband it would be an act of violence against him. He would have a heart attack right there on the spot next to the Christmas tree!! But jokes apart, I do agree with Isabella and am pleased she shared her thoughts.

  2. I could not agree more. I am not familiar with this company, however Isabella’s points are all well taken. I wonder if there would be a hue and cry here in the U.S. if this were to appear in the window of Victoria’s Secret.

    From the initial inspiration, to design and manufacture, to marketing and sales, hundreds, if not thousands, of people are involved in bringing this item to the public at large. I wonder if any of them, even one, thought this was a bad idea????? Kudos to both of you, Trisha and Isabella, for bringing this to our attention.

    1. I think there would be some complaints in the US if this were in the window of Victoria’s Secret. I think the US tends to be more “puritan” — as Italians often remind me. That said, I think Victoria Secret’s advertising doesn’t do a lot to help the whole question of image and how women see themselves. Are we all supposed to be extremely buxom, green-eyed, pussy-cats? It must sell though. In Italy Dolce and Gabbana uses Italian male soccer/football players for their underwear ads, I wonder if Victoria’s Secret used the US women’s national soccer team for their ads, would that help their sales? I would like to think it would. How about athletic women and not sex-bombs!!!

  3. I’m with Isabella on this one – soft (and some times hard) porn are used by the advertising/media to sell products and ideas globally without concern for decency or feelings. Shock/tittilation is everything to those who would have you remember their product or service – it matters not if you are offended because if you are you are not part of their target group anyway. There is a sure-fire way to hit back and that is to organise and divest and boycott – attack the bottom line and you will get a response, albeit a temporary one until they push the envelope again.

    1. I agree both with Isabella and with you Alan — this is too much. This chain store has shops all over Italy, on all the main streets and famous piazzas. My own daughters have been in them many times. I would not like my teenage daughters to look at those “sexy boxers and whip” and think that is what they need to have a good time. Thank you to Isabella for pointing it out.

  4. Hi Trisha! Isabella should create a petition against Intimissimi on or Merry Xmas & buona notte

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