Totally New Anti-Rape Advice: Wear a Chastity Belt: AR Wear’s New Anti-Rape Clothing

Yesterday, I received an odd email in response to my new article in the Huffington Post on victim blaming anti-rape campaigns. I’m just going to go out on a limb here and suggest they didn’t actually read my article properly since they responded to it with this: 

We read your article The Huffington Post The Best Way to Prevent Rape: Tell Men to Stop Raping. We agree with many of your arguments but we also think that there needs to be more options for women to protect themselves against rape. That is why we have launched a campaign on Indiegogo to design the first anti-rape clothing line. 

Although this should not be dealt as man vs woman issue but rather a problem of our society in general statistics show that women are much more likely to be the victims of rape. This is why we believe that even though there should be a wider effort to educate our society about rape, there should be options available for women and girls that offer protection as well. 

AR Wear underwear and running shorts is a “concept prototype” that offers women and girls a non-aggressive way of resisting rape even if unconscious. In our video you can see exactly how AR Wear garments work: We strongly believe women should have more options to protect themselves from a possible sexual assault. 

We would love to hear your input on this issue and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me anytime at …*

Honestly, my first reaction to this email was to bang my head off my keyboard. Ignoring the whole missing the point of my article completely angle, anti-rape clothing is just another way of victim blaming women for getting raped rather than dealing with the epidemic of male violence in our culture. It’s nothing more than a new-fangled chastity belt.

There is so much wrong with this brief statement that I am not sure where to start: “non-aggressive way of resisting rape even if unconscious”. Firstly, it presupposes that all victims must “resist”. This is not only inherently unkind but it also ignores that fact that every single women reacts differently to being raped and that there is no one correct way to respond. This myth is one of the reasons that rape convictions are hard to secure. Women who do not “resist” are considered complicit in their rapes. Secondly, there is something wrong with the way “non-aggression” is used in this sentence: rape is a crime of male aggression. Women are also socialised from birth to be non-aggressive. Women who behave in an “aggressive” manner are shamed as aggression is a positive quality in men but negative in women. This statement both reinforces gendered constructions of acceptable femininity whilst implying that women who do not “resist” in an “obvious” way are complicit in their own rapes.

Obviously, I have a problem with the idea of clothing protecting women from rape. Chastity belts did not protect women from rape; and specialist underwear will not protect women from rape. We need a fundamental restructuring of our culture to end rape. Underwear will not do this.

Anti-Rape underwear whose advertising campaigns are based entirely on rape myths will not help protect women or children from rape. They simply reinforce the very myths which make it easier for rapists to rape whilst blaming the victims for being raped. 

This is the tagline for AR Wear: A clothing line offering wearable protection for when things go wrong

Rape is not “something that goes wrong”. It is a crime with a clear perpetrator who chooses to rape. It isn’t an accident. It isn’t a miscommunication. And, it is mostly certainly not “something that goes wrong”. The idea that a company is attempting to profit from women’s fears of rape whilst simultaneously minimising rape as a crime makes me very, very angry. 

I watched their advertising video and was disgusted by the rape myths they are using to promote their product. The following information taken from their website but is a reflection of what is stated in the video:

We 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. 

Insinuating that women and girls [but not boys?] have the power to control the outcome of sexual violence is victim blaming. The implication is that if you go clubbing or traveling without wearing this product and are raped it is somehow your fault. Women have every right to be anxious about being raped. We are all aware of how common rape is but we do not need more people profiting from our fears and blaming us. We need men to stop raping and men to stop making excuses for rapists. 

We read studies reviewing the statistics of resisting assault, whether by forceful or non-forceful means. We learned that resistance increases the chance of avoiding a completed rape without making the victim more likely to be physically injured. We concluded that an item of clothing that creates an effective barrier layer can allow women and girls to passively resist an attacker, in addition to any other form of resistance they may be able to carry out at the time of an assault.

The video uses the phrase “studies show that resisting sexual assault lessens the chance of a rape taking place without increasing the violence of the attack.” Obviously, they haven’t actually linked any research to support this statement, nor have they linked to any research which states the opposite. They haven’t explained how they came to the conclusion that “an item of clothing” will help women will help women “resist” without increasing the possibility of physical violence. Nope, instead they’ve gone straight to the victim blaming language based on a statement without listing any research to support it. 

It is simply unacceptable and unethical to make such blanket claims about research into rape without even bothering to list what research they have read.

No product alone can solve the problem of violence against women. Nevertheless, a woman or girl who is wearing one of our garments will be sending a clear message to her would-be assailant that she is NOT consenting. We believe that this undeniable message can help to prevent a significant number of rapes.

It’s ever so kind of them to suggest that their product won’t solve the problem of violence against women. It would just be, well, nicer, if they didn’t use yet another rape myth to advertise it. Rapists are not confused about the issue of consent. They are more than aware that the woman or child has not consented. They just don’t care. They choose to rape. It doesn’t matter how many times or ways a woman expresses her lack of consent, rapists rape because they want to. 

Wearing anti-rape underwear won’t make it “clear” to a rapist that they do not have consent. Rapists already know they don’t have consent. It just makes 
women who have been raped feel guilty about being raped.

The video goes one step further than the above rape myths. It uses emotional blackmail to coerce parents into immediately donating money to the Indigogo fundraising page. Preying on the fears of parents to raise money is fairly despicable.

This product won’t help protect women because it doesn’t stop rape. And, using rape myths to sell a product to prevent rape is so very, very heinous.

I’m not really surprised someone has come up with clothing to protect women from male violence. We’ve been taught since birth that we are responsible for being raped because of how we dress, the way we talk, where we work, where we live, our hobbies and even the act of breathing. 

We don’t tell men to stop raping. We just tell women that it’s their fault.

Frankly, if we’re going to get into the underwear to stop rape business, design some underwear for men which will prevent them from raping women; underwear that won’t allow them to use their penis as a weapon in women’s bodies.

And, for the millionth time,

These are the things which do not increase your vulnerability to rape:

  1. Going out in public.
  2. Wearing a black dress.
  3. Running
  4. Drinking alcohol.
  5. Sleeping.
  6. Visiting another country [and there isn’t even the slightest whiff of racism here. Not at all].
These are things which do increase your vulnerability to rape: 
  1. Rapists.

*Identifying details and contact details have been redacted.

6 thoughts on “Totally New Anti-Rape Advice: Wear a Chastity Belt: AR Wear’s New Anti-Rape Clothing”

  1. Also those who are raped are most likely to know the person raping them. This is a fact. So…what they are saying is that don’t trust those male members of the family who are close to you.

    In fact not only do they perpetrate the myth that women are responsible for being sexually attacked and raped, but they also perpetrate the myth that women shouldn’t trust any male.

    Wrong on every count. I’ve no intentions of going back to the middle ages.

  2. Hey Louise – just wanted to comment and say that I loved this response. Your response is well worded and on the button, and vindicates a lot of the views I had when I watched the video. I love the way you write – keep it up!

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