Twelve questions about AR Wear’s anti-rape underwear

AR Wear is fundraising to manufacture anti-rape (as in AR) underwear. Here are a few questions we have about the apparel.

  1. AR Wear, if the whole point of your magic anti-rape underwear is that an evil rapist can’t take them off, is it going to take me a really long time to undo all the secret locks if I have pee?
  2. How about if I want to have sex?
  3. How does this protect people who have an intimate relationship with their assailant?
  4. What about all the forms of sexual violence that don’t require removal of underwear?
  5. Do the inventors of this know what sexual violence actually looks like outside of Law and Order?
  6. What is the “thing” mentioned in your motto “offering protection for when things go wrong?”
  7. Where are the rapists in this calculation?
  8. If a predator realizes you’re wearing magic anti-rape underwear, won’t s/he just go find someone who isn’t?
  9. Won’t those people be more likely to be unable to afford magic anti-rape underwear, or have bodies, invisible or mocked in popular imagination, that don’t fit into clothes designed for thin, able-bodied, cis women like your models?
  10. Are these thin, able-bodied, cis women the only kind of people who deserve not to be raped?
  11. When did we forget anti-violence work is a collective, not individualized, effort?
  12. Haven’t we been over this before?

Alexandra

Alexandra Brodsky is a Feministing editor, law student, and activist who talks about rape a lot.

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13 Comments

  1. Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if you ask the same questions about pepper spray. Apart from questions about ease of voluntary removal, I think the criticisms here are unreasonable.

  2. Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I think number 7 is the only question we need to be asking, and until it’s actually addressed by society at large, this is simply further evidence of rape culture. I shouldn’t have to wear a new and improved chastity belt to not be raped. :(
    Check out this post — I think the writer nailed it: http://bellejarblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/high-tech-panties-wont-stop-rape/ This is a score for rapists, not for women.

    • Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Kelsey,

      That’s not true. The makers of this product are not forcing you to buy or wear this product. No one is saying you need to wear a chastity belt. At the same time, some of us would love to have more protection and would love to see this product come to market. That desire has nothing at all with saying women need to deter rape and everything with women choosing to protect themselves in any way they see fit. If for you that’s wearing this product, great. If it’s not, great. It’s your choice. No one is taking that choice away from you. But, some of these anti-magic chastity belt arguments are pretty judgmental and to pose a barrier to free choice. That is especially the case if this product doesn’t come to market b/c people are so convinced self-defense is equivalent to victim blaming. It’s not. If there’s anything I want to stress, it’s that women who choose to protect themselves are not doing it because they thing women are at fault for this problem. Absolutely not. Rapists are to blame. Also, some of us really want more barriers to that horror, especially if we’ve experienced that violence in the past. Desiring protection should not be a taboo topic, and yet, that’s exactly what it’s become.

    • Posted November 7, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      I can’t stand think kind of backward ass thinking. Rape is a problem, has always been a problem and will always be a problem. There is no way to eliminate it! If human beings took this approach with every issue, we would be extinct already. This product does not justify or condone rape, it gives women an option to protect themselves. This convo is so rediculous. Why would anybody get pissy with someone who obviously wants to help the problem. This ten question crap is like. Why do I have to wear a condom? I shouldn’t have to worry about HIV. I’m not keeping a fire extinguisher in my house because my house shouldn’t get set on fire in the first place. This is the same stupid reasoning behind anti-gun laws. Rape is here, deal with it. Would you rather get raped or have some sort of deterent? If someone was trying to rip your pants off you might feel differently.

    • Posted November 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      As much as I agree with you the fact is that rape isn’t going anywhere and in fact I doubt we’ll see much change in our lifetimes. So as much as you’re correct, it isn’t much solace for thus of living today in the now.

    • Posted November 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      So why having an alarm installed at home ? or in the car ? This is a victory for thieves.

  3. Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Magic underwear is not going to deter a rapist intent on a violent attack. This just makes it more likely that a person wearing them will be assaulted another way.

    • Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      They aren’t magic, and using that word isn’t useful to promoting a real dialogue about the product.
      Also, statistical evidence does not seem to back up your claim.

      Most rape is about power, and this product takes some of that power away from the rapist and gives it back to the survivor. It may give her time to run or fight back. At the very least, it will provide a barrier to immediate penetration and that means she’ll have more time to scream, fight, run or for someone to notice what’s happening and intervene.

      Also, in a lot of cases, victims are ‘frozen’ by the emotional horror of rape, and that paralyzing feeling can prevent them from getting away. (I’m not saying being paralyzed is their fault, just that it happens, b/c rape is emotionally traumatizing and the horror of it is emotionally debilitating.) However, if there’s a means to remove immediate penetration from that scenario, the assault is likely less emotionally paralyzing. That change alone may help women escape the situation. And, I am not saying it should be up to the woman to avoid it. But, I am saying if we can help her get away that’s a really great thing. I think this product can do that.

  4. Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Alexandra Brodsky, I’d like to answer your 12 questions in the name of victims who would appreciate having a way to protect themselves and who feel your arguments, and others like it, may prevent a rape deterrent from coming to the market.

    1. AR Wear, if the whole point of your magic anti-rape underwear is that an evil rapist can’t take them off, is it going to take me a really long time to undo all the secret locks if I have pee? Your first point, which describes the product as magic (a bit condescending) addresses the time it takes to remove the pants or shorts. Obviously, that will be handled in production and marketing. They aren’t going to be very successful selling this product if people can’t get if off quickly enough to pee, right. That’s certainly been/being addressed.

    2. How about if I want to have sex? Then you take it off. The product does not keep you, the wearer, from removing it, it just prevents someone who doesn’t have permission from removing it. My understanding is that the locking mechanism at the top has a clock position-like code. You would know the positions that remove it easily.

    3. How does this protect people who have an intimate relationship with their assailant? Honestly, there is nothing that can mentally prepare you for when your uncle, best friend or date rapes you. It’s not like you can see that coming. Most people probably wouldn’t be wearing this at the moment that an intimate betrayal (friend or family member) happened the first time. I could tell people that someone really close to them is more likely to rape them than a stranger and until that kind of horrible betrayal happens to you, it would be really hard to believe. However, in cases of ‘repeated’ abuse, such as an uncle who repeatedly offends, or in cases where a wife suffers domestic violence and rape from a spouse, or when it’s happened to you once before (so you choose these for future defense)- in THOSE cases, this product might help. Also, it would help at parties, runs, clubs, when you go out drinking, on first dates, etc. There are a lot of instances where this could help a woman get away from her potential rapist. It could give her time to process what is imminent before it happens, and that may provide women with an escape opportunity. (Again, not in all cases, but it might help in some.)

    4. What about all the forms of sexual violence that don’t require removal of underwear? Most sexual assault does require removal of underwear, and if guys try to orally rape a woman they might encounter teeth. I want it to be clear that I am not arguing this product could prevent ALL rape; it’s being marketed as a rape deterrent. It’s not a cultural solution and it can’t prevent all cases. It may help in some cases, and isn’t that valuable?

    5. Do the inventors of this know what sexual violence actually looks like outside of Law and Order? Hell, yes. I suggest you talk to a lot of survivors about this. You might be surprised by how many people who are very familiar with the face of sexual violence feel about an opportunity to protect themselves in the future. The majority of survivors I’ve talked to about this product, would welcome it to the market. There are many survivors out there who would like to feel empowered by saying “never again.” Would you rob them of their opportunities to defend themselves b/c you don’t agree? You don’t have to wear it, but how about opening up the dialogue to something a little less judgemental so that victims have a chance to voice their opinions without feeling so harshly judged by the “don’t blame the victim” camp. I assure you, the “I want to defend myself” camp also does not want to blame the victim; and they hate rapists just as much as you do.

    6.What is the “thing” mentioned in your motto “offering protection for when things go wrong?” I’m not sure what this deconstruction is meant to accomplish. It’s possible you are making a valid point and that I’m just missing it. That’s why I encourage an open in-person dialogue. My email address is ceci_sequeira@yahoo.com and I will be happy to coordinate discussing this in person or take a public stand for self-defense advocacy. It’s not about pushing people to protect themselves. It’s about making protection an option for those who would choose it.

    7. Where are the rapists in this calculation? I think that what they mean by this statement is that people don’t see this nonsense coming. The day could have been wonderful and you may believe you have a good friend in the person you are spending time with and then “things” turn out to not be at all what they seem. Your friend turns out to be a predator, and yes, that’s surprising, in the most horrific kind of way. It’s not that it’s your fault that the impossible to foresee is happening, but your friend or family member may turn out to be a horrible rapist. Maybe that person is repeating his or her abuse. Maybe he or she is more evil and really enjoys the victimizing and manipulating the power dynamic. There are a number of psychological factors here, and none of them are the victim’s fault. Just the same, you might think things are going great and then realize that person wasn’t who you thought they were- i.e. things are not always what they seem. Hence why many might welcome protection.

    8. If a predator realizes you’re wearing magic anti-rape underwear, won’t s/he just go find someone who isn’t? That really depends on the predator and who he targets. No, he or she would not necessarily immediately go and rape someone else because he failed with this one person. In some cases, crimes occur where there is greatest opportunity. I believe this product may narrow that opportunity and save some potential victims. Will it save everyone? NO. Will some predators go on to rape others who may not be wearing the deterrent? They may. But, would you deprive society of a protective mechanism b/c of the rapists’ behavior? If a woman chooses to wear this product, shouldn’t that be her choice?

    9. Won’t those people be more likely to be unable to afford magic anti-rape underwear, or have bodies, invisible or mocked in popular imagination, that don’t fit into clothes designed for thin, able-bodied, cis women like your models? You know, this is a VERY valid point and it’s really frustrating that at least at the beginning, this product would only be available to people who could afford it. That doesn’t seem fair to those who don’t have it available to them. But, would you deprive every single woman on the planet the opportunity to buy it because it might not immediately be available to everyone? There might be campaigns later that raise funds to send this to areas where it might seriously make a difference. I would love to see it provided to women in South Africa. But, let’s not block it from coming to market b/c some might not immediately benefit from it. Let’s just work on making sure that all women who do want it can have it.

    As for the “size” of the product: You better believe this product needs to be available to all sizes. Do not make this product only in a size zero and feed into rape myths that only size zeros get raped. Glad that’s settled.

    10. Are these thin, able-bodied, cis women the only kind of people who deserve not to be raped? No. Women of all shapes, races and sizes are targeted and women of all shapes, races and sizes should have an opportunity to protect themselves. It would be nice to see them represented in the media and in the marketing of this product. However, I think that when we talk about crappy marketing we are opening another can of worms. The “beauty ideal” in the media is a separate issue and one that deserves a lot of focus, but it’s not a sufficient reason to prevent this product from coming to market. I would love to see them market this to real women. Those images should include plus-sized women, short women, women with disabilities, women of every race and ethnic background. It would be nice if women in the media weren’t photoshopped until they didn’t resemble average women at all. Yes, to addressing ALL of that. But, this isn’t the only product with a bunch of tiny, young, photoshopped women representing the product. The issue is far more widespread. And, yes, let’s work on that! But, in the context of this product, let’s not prevent women from being able to protect themselves b/c the women representing the product represent the stereotypical ideal. Yeah, that not optimal, but it’s not on topic in terms of form and function. Let’s address the ‘media ideal’ also, but in a separate forum.

    11. When did we forget anti-violence work is a collective, not individualized, effort?
    Alexandra, we the victims, have never forgotten. For many of us this is ‘not’ about shifting the onus of preventing rape onto the victim’s shoulders. I get that many might argue that’s a slippery slope. But, for goodness sake, if some women want to have a way to protect themselves, are you really going to deprive them of that opportunity because it’s so important for society to understand that the rapists are to blame? I’d agree that’s still an issue. And, the fight to work on cultural awareness is not over. We do need to work on shifting cultural understanding of this matter. I would love it if everyone understood how widespread this issue is. I would love it if no family member every asked a victim why she was drinking, or why she was at that shady bar, or why she did this, that or the other. Victim blaming is awful. And, very frankly, if this product comes to market, will society probably at some point go on to blame the victim yet again because she wasn’t wearing something that could have protected her? Yes, history tells us that culture likes to blame the women, so why would this be any different? But, again, do we want to prevent women who would buy this product from buying it because society insists on blaming the woman? That seems unfair. I have talked to a lot of sexual abuse and rape survivors who want to see this product come to market. It would help them feel like they are taking some of the power back and finding ways to feel safer. It’s not a solution. We must still work on cultural awareness. There is still so much more of this gigantic and complex problem to be addressed. But, if some women want to deter rape in their lives, are wonderful feminist women (who have the best of intentions) really going to keep standing in their way?

    12. Haven’t we been over this before? We surely have. It’s become taboo to talk about self-defense because it hints at victim blaming. That dynamic has resulted in our greatest advocates standing in the way of women’s choices to protect themselves. Let’s have a real dialogue. And, if people want to buy this product, shouldn’t they be allowed to make that choice without being made to feel that their own protection is contributing to victim blaming?

    Thank you for taking the time to consider this perspective.

  5. Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I understand the larger problems, I really do. But I can’t get my pepper spray through border security, my strength training doesn’t make me stronger than the average guy, and sometimes I really do just want to get drunk on vacation. I’ve been sexually assaulted when I was too intoxicated to force the guy off my body. Of course it was his fault, 100%, and there is nothing wrong with getting drunk. But I still wish he hadn’t been able to get my panties off.

  6. Posted November 7, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Do not think for a minute that this underwear is for the “Law and Order” type of brutal rape while walking the street etc. This underwear is for girls/young ladies that are in high school, college or young and single. It is for them to be able to go out at night and if they drink too much or are drugged and/or their judgement is impaired, they don’t wake up having had sex with a stranger or someone they didn’t want to have sex with. Don’t get your panties in a wad over this. I would buy this for my daughter in a minute if it meant saving her from having to deal with date rape or having impaired judgement and having unplanned sex. I would rather she not drink or have a designated “sober” friend to watch out for her, but reality is that it may not be enough. This is just another tool to keep young ladies safe. Now if only they could invent the “shirt that cant be lifted when drunk”, so girls can protect themselves from predatory photographers while on Spring Break and I will be even happier.

  7. Posted November 17, 2013 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    #13… what about the fact that women CAN defend themselves? Rape is always the rapist fault, but personally I would rather be prepared to kick his arse than hope he can’t undo some lock on my underwear! I am closely following a different indie-gogo campaign that’s try to raise money to train women to be able to fight back and to let people know that women don’t have to resort to panties for protection!
    http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/go-commando-real-confidence-and-protection

  8. Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    That matters why?

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