So today I found out that something called AR (anti-rape) Wear exists, and then my brain exploded and started melting out of my ears a little bit. Well, no. Not quite. But almost! It almost did. And my brain would have been justified in doing so, because the existence of this cross between a chastity belt and ultra-tight bike shorts is so completely misguided and reinforces inaccurate stereotypes about rape and sexual assault that it’s amazing I didn’t actually have an aneurysm. And also? It’s the most absurd use of crowd-funding since Zosia Mamet and her sister tried to raise money for their band’s music video.
“Rape is about as bad as it gets,” boldly asserts new clothing company AR Wear in the introduction on its Indiegogo campaign page. The company, which is more than halfway to its goal of raising $50,000, is a “clothing line offering wearable protection for when things go wrong.” What kind of things? Oh, you know. Things like rape! Which, let’s not forget is “about as bad as it gets.” While AR Wear assures its audience that “the only one responsible for rape is the rapist,” it also sends the message that in order for women to have peace of mind, they should further protect themselves by wearing very, very tight underwear that seems to operate under the same principles as a Chinese handcuffs. (I guess they don’t care that much about protecting women from yeast infections, but that’s not really the point here.) And so what kind of activities might make a woman apprehensive about her safety to such a degree that she’d be reassured by wearing anti-rape underwear? Oh, you know, maybe when she’s “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.” So basically, all the time. A woman should be apprehensive about rape all the time. Cool!
I’d like to think that the creators of this underwear have good intentions and aren’t just fear-mongering, victim-blaming, and completely failing to understand that rape can occur in ways that don’t just include vaginal or anal sex. But there’s little on the site to make me believe that this is so. Instead, there is an offensive video that makes an appeal not only to women who might feel unsafe, but also to their “parents and friends,” who might be worried about them. Because, yeah, it’s totally appropriate for a woman’s father or boyfriend to get her anti-rape underwear for those times when she’s without the presence of a male escort. The video also resorts to the recent trope of women who drink too much asking to be raped, once again reinforcing the idea that any woman who gets raped has been more or less asking for it. One of the founders of the companies also says that “this isn’t for domestic rape, or rape by people you know,” which, considering that approximately 2/3 of rapes are committed by people known to the victim, doesn’t seem like the best business plan. Unless, of course, your business plan is just to prey off the fears of women and strengthen the message that women are the only ones responsible for their own safety? And if that’s your business plan? It’s a pretty cynical, misogynistic one. Which, who knows? Just might wind up doing really well. It’s already raised way more money than Zosia Mamet ever did.
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