Story by Jesse Wright
There is a new line of clothing in development that purports to protect women from rape.
The company calls itself AR Wear, and is asking for funding on the website indiegogo.com to create a prototype for special kinds of underwear, running shorts and traveling shorts.
The garments are unique because they are resistant to pulling, tearing and cutting.
The product can protect against an attempted sexual assault by making it difficult for someone else to remove, while being comfortable to wear during normal activities.
According to its page on the website indiegogo.com, AR Wear has “developed this product so that women and girls could have more power to control the outcome of a sexual assault. 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.”
To some, such garments would make an effective precaution for women. However, to others, the garments play into America’s rape culture.
Caleb Kenison, a coordinator for Drake’s Student Activists for Gender Equality (SAGE), is not a fan of the garments.
“Most rape is acquaintance rape, and these are not very likely to work at all,” Kenison said. “Their only function is possibly making women feel safer. If we actually want to prevent rape, we need to change cultural acceptance of sexual assault and not focus on the actions or attire of victims.”
Drake junior Ashley Morgan said she also feels the garments play into America’s rape culture.
“I think it shifts responsibility for rape from the rapist to the victim,” Morgan said. “We should not be teaching women to not to get raped, we should be teaching men not to rape.”
Kate Fahr, a feminist and atheist YouTube vlogger know as “Bionic Dance,” has a different perspective.
“My initial reaction was mostly, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” Fahr said. “However, when I actually watched the video on their page, I thought it was an interesting idea, assuming the garments work as advertised.”
Fahr also said she does not think AR Wear’s clothes necessarily play into rape culture. “I don’t think such garments shift responsibility from the rapist to the victim any more than putting a lock on your front door shifts the responsibility from the burglar to the home-owner,” Fahr said. “The responsibility is always, always on the one violating a person’s freedom or safety. This garment is just a safeguard against when somebody violates that social contract. Anybody who thinks that this kind of safety-undies being on the market means that wearing them is mandatory for anybody wishing to avoid rape is, frankly, either a lunatic or a sexist pig.”
Ashley Thompson, a Drake senior, takes a position somewhere between Fahr, Kenison and Morgan.
“On the one hand, I think wearing such clothes makes sense from the perspective of taking precautions,” Thompson said. “On the other hand, it is very sad that we live in a country where rape culture is so ingrained that women feel they have to wear special shorts when they go jogging in order to prevent potential sexual assault.”