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Introducing Rape-Preventing Panties (With Locks)

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AR Wear's indiegogo campaign

A new women’s garment company is developing a line of stylish rape resistant clothing. Have gender relations come to this?

The company, a little start up in Nyack, New York, is crowdfunding its project on Indiegogo and says on its website that it wants to make women feel safer wherever they are or whatever happens to them. To accomplish that, AR Wear is pretty much reclaiming the chastity belt with the mother of all control top pants. Each pair of boy-cut undies is secured with three bands, one around the waist and one on each leg that are very difficult to cut. The pants have a kind of impenetrable modesty panel to cover the business bits. There’s even a lock on the waist, which can only be unlocked using two hands (thus preventing the attacker from restraining his would be victim with the other). These knickers are not coming off in a hurry.

“We wanted to offer some peace of mind in situations that cause feelings of apprehension, such as going out on a blind date, taking an evening run, “clubbing”, traveling in unfamiliar countries, and any other activity that might make one anxious about the possibility of an assault,” says the fundraising website, which so far has amassed about 60% of the $50,000 worth of start up money it needs to finish its prototype. Its motto: “A clothing line offering wearable protection for when things go wrong.”

The idea has been met with a range of responses from open mockery to accusations of blaming the victim to a sort of wary acceptance. But the fact that some women felt the need to invent such a garment indicates that male-female relations have reached a new nadir. Getting raped is no longer considered a horrible but extremely unlikely happenstance; it’s now more like getting pickpocketed—an occurrence that only the very naive fail to guard against.

(MORE: Nearly A Quarter of Men In Some Asian Countries Admit To Rape)

Anti-rape undies aren’t even the only innovation in this area. In South Africa, a female doctor came up with a barbed condom-like device women could wear inside their vaginas that would clamp down on anything that found its way in there.  A startup called DrinkSavvy has raised funds for a line of straws and glassware that will change color if a drink has been adulterated with a date-rape drug and hopes to release its first products in December. Earlier this year, Indian students came up with underwear that gave would- be attackers an electric shock. Way back in 2005, some Swedish students devised an anti-rape belt buckle, but it didn’t go into production.

While rape stats are less than reliable, studies generally agree that between 15% and 20% of women in the U.S. have been raped at least once, and a disturbing report from the United Nations recently revealed that a quarter of Asian men admitted to forcing girlfriends or wives to have sex against their will. (Most experts on rape believe that the crime is massively undercounted because so few victims report it.) Both those are dreadfully high numbers, but there are signs that the trend may be on the decline. A March 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of  Statistics found that from 1995 to 2010, the estimated annual rate of female rape or sexual assault declined 58%, from 5.0 incidents per 1,000 females age 12 or older to 2.1 per 1,000.

So why the need for anti-rape panties now?

Perhaps the reason is hidden in the other surprising set of statistics about rape. Sexual assaults happen less often outside or in a strange place than they do in the home of the victim or the aggressor. And according the U.S. Justice Bureau’s figures, fewer than a quarter of all rapes are committed by a person who is a stranger to the victim. Most rapists are a family member, a friend, a former partner or even a boyfriend. When the putative rapists are not hardened criminals, but people we know and hang out with, the potential for rape seems to be much greater and the safety measures much less effective. Ironically, although the creators of the anti-rape panties recommend them for use in new or strange situations, it’s familiar ones that pose the greater threat.

(MORE: What Bystanders Can Do to Stop Rape)

The vast majority of men, obviously, are not rapists, but unfortunately the ones who are don’t tend to advertise the fact, and in the case of disputed date rapes would not even acknowledge the fact. Highly publicized sexual assaults such as the case in Steubenville Ohio, in which a high school girl was raped after she drank too much or the one in Maryville, Missouri, in which a girl believed she had been raped even though the justice system didn’t agree, have left women feeling vulnerable and with few places of sanctuary.

Perhaps what is needed then is not so much Anti-Rape undies but Consent Undies — boxers or briefs men agree to wear that only the women can undo, whenever they feel ready to do so, with the consent of both parties. Of course, someone’s going to have to come up with a heck of a marketing campaign to sell that idea to the guys.

5 comments
aliberaldoseofskepticism
aliberaldoseofskepticism

Well, the biggest problem with it just creates another faux reason she consented and therefore it wasn't rape. Before it was that her skirt was too high, now it's that she didn't wear the rapeproof undies. And there are racial disparities in victimization. (Black and American Indian women are more likely to be raped than white women. Nonlegal residents are more likely to be raped than legal residents or citizens. And so on.)

And people still sympathize with the perps! As Steubenville demonstrated. I remember them calling the victim a prostitute and saying she GOES! (Thank you for ruining Monty Python for me, Steubenville.) There was apparently this international conspiracy against Steubenville's football team consisting of everyone who is disgusted by rape (a.k.a., every non-psychopathic person in the world).

LOL @ Consent Undies. The tough part would be putting them on men. And even though I have no intention of raping anyone, sometimes I have to relieve myself.

c24hnk
c24hnk

it is sad indeed that gender relationships have fallen to the point where women can no longer feel secure around men, even those they trust. however, one must take a a broader look at the situation concerning rape. while it is true that devices such as these can be effective in preventing rape, these will prove to be impermanent solutions for a problem that is not women's responsibility. as is often cried out in outrage on tumblr, "women shouldn't need to learn not to be raped. men should be taught not to rape." this statement could not ring more true in this situation.

goldengrain
goldengrain

@c24hnk Woman around the world must be taught about sex and this possibility at a young age.  They must be instructed to report such men.  Penalties in cases in which there is no doubt should be extremely severe.  I don't think there should be penalties for women who kill their rapists when it is certain that she was raped.  

This is a crime of the lowest kind and only an unthinking beast would do such a thing.  The world is better off without them.