Guess what? You now will never be raped or sexually assaulted... but only if you wear this rape prevention underwear!
AR (Anti-Rape) Wear, described as “a clothing line offering wearable protection for when things go wrong,” had an Indiegogo campaign back in 2014. Though they exceeded their funding goal, it doesn’t seem as if the product has ever manifested past prototypes. And still, a video of the prototype demonstrations is being shared on Facebook to this day, despite the product being introduced 3 years ago.
“The waist, thighs, and central panels are protected with specially designed, cut resistant straps and webbing. Once the waist girth has been adjusted and secured with its unique locking device, the garment cannot be pulled down,” the product description states. “Since a female’s waist measurement is generally less than that of her pelvic area, the waist strap can be locked at a comfortable position and still prevent unwanted removal of the garment. The thigh straps, after an initial adjustment by the wearer, prevent the leg openings from being lifted or shifted to the sides by someone else. The center panels are connected to both the waist and thigh straps to create a unified protective skeletal structure.”
This is problematic for oh, so many reasons. Let’s break it down:
1) The wording of this product itself is very cis-and-hetero normative. By focusing only on “females,” it completely ignores the trans folks, nonbinary people, and even cis men who might fear sexual assault.
2) If there’s a medical emergency, having locked pants with fabric that can’t be torn would make it incredibly difficult for paramedics to perform necessary procedures.
3) It’s yet another product that addresses the symptom and not the cause. It’s something that can be used as a scapegoat for victim blaming. “Oh, you were raped? Well, why weren’t you wearing your rape prevention underwear?”
4) Rainn reports that 7/10 rapes are comitted by someone the victim knows — whether it be a friend, family member, or significant other. This product continues to perpetuate the bullshit idea that sexual assault only occurs by coming across a stranger in a dark alley.
How about we actually address rape culture and teach people not to rape, rather than creating weird, niche products in order to take women’s money under the guise of protection? #Capitalism
Yet, according to the AR Wear Facebook page, people are still anxiously awaiting the release of this bizarre product.
This isn't the only time a product like this has gone viral. Another product meant to “protect” people from being raped or sexually assaulted is Undercover Colors, a nail polish created by two dudes which changes colors when dipped in a drink that was drugged.
“1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. This unthinkable problem has reached epidemic levels on college campuses. And something must be done about it. Power must be handed back to women in what is a devastatingly powerless situation,” their website reads.
“At the heart of founding Undercover Colors was a conviction that we could take the power we had as engineers to create something that gave power to others,” the “Why Us?” portion of their website says. You can then “Meet Steve” and “Meet Tyler,” the inventors of this product.
In December 2016, Steve and Tyler accepted a Voices of Solidarity award for their invention. This award ceremony was held by Vital Voices, an organization which “recognizes men who have shown courage and compassion in advocating on behalf of women and girls in the United States and around the world.” Because clearly men need awards for being decent humans, right? #PerformativeAllyship
And again, this product is not yet available for purchase, despite their award and 100,000+ Facebook likes.
These aren’t the only examples of “anti-rape” products that have been thought up. Patents for such products have existed since at least the 1980s. Some of them include:
- A spiked female condom, known as “Rape-aXe,” created by a South African doctor in 2005. It could actually end up causing more harm than good, as the women who use the device may end up at increased risk of violence by the men whom the condom clamps onto. And for the record, Rape-aXe is no closer to being on the market than it was 12 years ago. Similar products were even patented in 1980 and 1994 to no avail.
- The “killer tampon,” invented in South Africa in 2000. This object is essentially a tampon with a spike in the bottom, meant to slice off the tip of the rapist’s penis.
- The “anti-rape” belt, created by Swedish students in 2005. The belt requires two hands to open so that the rapist can’t hold someone down and unbuckle the belt at the same time.
- An "anti-rape" dress created by a Japanese fashion designer in 2009. The dress is meant to disguise vulnerable individuals as... wait for it... a vending machine.
- “Anti-rape” lingerie, designed by engineering students in India, which features a GPS and a system able to produce shockwaves so the attacker will back off.
- Hairy-legged stockings, created in China in 2013, meant to deter men away from wanting to rape those who wear them. They’re so ridiculous, they seem like a joke. Plus the idea that a would-be rapist won’t go near someone with hairy legs reeks of patriarchal beauty standards.
So despite the huge interest in products like these, none are even on the market yet. And regardless, they’re just a band-aid over a giant wound. Anti-rape nail polish and anti-sexual assault underwear won’t stop the prevalence of rape and sexual assault, especially in a world where a rapist was acquitted under the notion that the victim couldn't possibly have been sexually assaulted since her skinny jeans were too tight for someone to take off without help. Rape is not the victims' job to prevent — it's the responsibility of the perpetrators to control themselves.
Let’s stop making products designed to “defend” folks from the violence of rape while profiting off their fears, and instead drill it into the heads of young men that they are not entitled to anyone’s body. Teach consent at an early age. Drop the “boys will be boys” mentality. Don’t tell little girls that if a boy is mean to her it means he likes her. And above all, increase accountability for those who violate the bodies of others.
Top Image via Flickr/chasecarter
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Rafaella is a graduate of The New School, where she majored in journalism and minored in gender studies. She's passionate about feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, combatting online harassment, and ending herpes stigma. Visit her website: ellagunz.com