Anti-rape wear? Could this clothing line potentially help someone in a horrible situation, or simply perpetuate the victim-blaming phenomenon? One New York company is hoping for the best as they try to take on sexual assault in a very specific way. They have developed “AR Wear,” which is a line of undergarments and shorts that are difficult to remove forcefully from a woman’s body. The clothing has a reinforced skeleton structure, unique components and features, it is resistant to cutting or tearing, and it comes with lock-in-place elements.
While the company pleads for crowd-funded support in their “Anti-Rape wear (AR)” video, they have created quite the controversy here in Moscow. Virginia Solan, Coordinator of the UI’s Violence Prevention Programs had this to say:
“I can’t take it anymore. This rape clothing line many people are supporting is beyond belief. ‘This will protect the ladies!’ the ad proclaims. Really? Women can pay to wear special clothing that will prevent them from being raped? This is problematic on so many levels. A better logic would be this: how about we have men wear protective undergarments that prevent them from raping? The very small percentages of men who do rape don’t rape women because they want sex. They’ve often just had it. They rape because they want power and control over another human being. If they can’t rape you, they will move on to other choices of violence. Are we really still talking about what women need to wear, and locking up their bodies, and the men behind the bushes? Expecting women to wear anti-rape clothing makes as much sense as locking men’s genitals up to prevent them from assaulting people! And what about the men who get raped? Where are their special outfits?”
At the beginning of the video, one of the founders asks the question, “Have you ever been out walking at night alone, wishing you could feel safer?”
Victoria Plaster has, and she is definitely on board with this new clothing line.
“This is very interesting, and I would want some,” said Victoria, 21, Psychology major. “I’ve been in many situations where I feel uncomfortable and pressured for sex so much that I’ve had to leave the location where I was having a good time. I think that AR Wear would increase confidence and protection, because it’s not noticeable and it’s safe.”
The company explains why they want to provide this clothing line to women.
“We wanted to provide a product that would make women and girls feel safer when out on a first date or at a night of clubbing, taking an evening run, traveling in another country, or in other potential risky situations.”
Fellow blogger Britt finds the product positive, and agrees that this should be on the market.
“This belongs on the market,” said Britt Kidder, 27, Public Relations major. “While I have heard the complaint that anti-rape wear is just a modern day chastity belt, I disagree because it increases a woman’s control, not a rapist’s. It’s not enough to say that rape culture needs to end, it’s about action; educating boys and girls, everywhere, to push for change. I think this lady’s idea is a great addition to the mix, it’s not meant to be the answer.”
Even with the controversy surrounding the project, the company explicitly states that “the only one responsible for a rape is the rapist, and AR Wear will not solve the fundamental problem that rape exists in our world.” They go on to say that the products were developed “so that women and girls could have more power to control the outcome of a sexual assault.”
While the AR Wear founders seem to have good intentions, many are finding that they are forgetting the reality of rape.
According to RAINN, 73 percent of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the victim knows, often a close friend or romantic partner. The vast majority of women who are raped are not necessarily attacked by strangers in foreign countries or by a random man they decided to meet for the first time offline, which are the situations where AR Wear’s founders indicate their products would be most useful.
While this may be great for a confidence booster, let’s not forget that there are lots of ways to hurt and abuse a woman, sexually or otherwise, even if you can’t get her underwear off. Is anti-rape wear really going to make things better or worse? Who knows, but what I do know is that we need to continue to educate our friends, family, and children about what they can do to prevent sexual assault in any situation.