Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Rape culture; sizism.]

A friend of mine sent me this link, and I almost could not believe what I was seeing: It's a fundraising campaign for a line of underwear that is designed to "prevent rape."

Basically, it's a self-controlled chastity belt.

screenshot from video at link, showing a thin woman's torso; she is wearing the 'rape prevention' pants and two sets of hands tug at the waistband
[Screencap from product demonstration video at above link.]

The creators of the product and attendant fundraising campaign write:
Rape is about as wrong as it gets. 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. Only by raising awareness and education, as well as bringing rapists to justice, can we all hope to eventually accomplish the goal of eliminating rape as a threat to both women and men. Meanwhile, as long as sexual predators continue to populate our world, AR Wear would like to provide products to women and girls that will offer better protection against some attempted rapes while the work of changing society's rape culture moves forward.
At least they're aware that "the only one responsible for rape is the rapist." And I understand that the idea is to empower women, but I still have a few problems with these anti-rape panties.

1. It's not empowering women to give them disinformation. And the video seems to suggest that stranger rape is the most pervasive risk, which it is not. It also seems to suggest that forcible (versus coercive or opportunistic) rape is the most pervasive risk, which it is not.

2. As far as I can tell from the descriptions of how the panties function, it appears as though they will only work on a very specific body type. There is certainly only one body type in the video. This reinforces the pernicious narrative that rape is a compliment, and women without slim bodies are not sexually assaulted. If indeed the panties only work on slim bodies, that communicates something even more upsetting: That only certain bodies are worth protecting from sexual violence.

3. I kept waiting for some explanation about how a rapist can't cut through the material, but an emergency responder could. That explanation never came. They show a person trying to cut through the waistband with both scissors and a knife, to no avail. All I could think was: What if the person trying to cut off the briefs was an EMT or a firefighter and not a rapist?

(Not that those are mutually exclusive groups, of course, but what I mean is: What if the person is trying to remove them to save you, not to harm you?)

That last one is the flag I really wanted to raise. These aren't available for purchase yet, but, if and when they are, make sure you get a good answer to that question before you potentially risk your life in order to "prevent yourself from getting raped."

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