Amid recent shocking political headlines flooding the timelines of our Facebook feeds, news channels, and day-to-day interactions, a specific news article was buried beneath this mass amount of political conversation. The headline read: These Shorts Help Protect Women From Rape. Instantly, my eyes were forced to do a double take. Shorts that protect women from rape?
After looking into the article further, the shorts are created and manufactured by a clothing line, who coined the term ‘AR Wear’, which stands for anti-rape wear. The company’s slogan promises “wearable protection for when things go wrong”. The line offers consumers with shorts, trousers, and underwear, armed with fabric that is difficult to remove and tear. Other brands have also jumped on this defense-style clothing industry, selling shorts with actual locks on the waistband to prevent potential encounters with sexual assault.
The creators of AR wear continued to defend their brand after drawing extreme outrage, mixed with approval from individuals around the world. The brand proclaimed that “no product alone can solve the problem of violence against women”, but they also have stated that their line of anti-rape wear has “successfully combined technology and fashion to help solve a problem that has not been adequately addressed in our society.”
But how can they claim that armoring women with anti-penetratable clothing has solved this deeply ignored issue of sexual assault and rape? By forcing women to literally lock up their lower halves, we are enforcing the idea of victim shaming and allowance of such crimes. Sadly enough though, this product makes sense in our culture of neglecting the true reality of the perpetrators who perform assaults against women.
With this modern-day version of a chastity belt, we as a society are continuing to enforce the idea that we as women and other potential victims have to avoid rape, rather than educating the idea that perpetrators should avoid committing rape. This isn’t the only fault the brand has though, the clothing is marketed towards specifically women, excluding the idea that rape can occur among other many other groups such as men, children, and transgenders. This discrete wearing of anti-rape gear also perpetuates the notion that rape only occurs when a woman is walking down a dark and deserted ally way, when in reality, sexual assault can occur in many seemingly normal interactions.
The overall intent of this brand is also quite confusing. Are we as women supposed to wear anti-rape gear everyday under our clothing, in fear of being sexually assaulted? Rather than asking victims how skimpy their clothing was, or if they were intoxicated, are we going to ask if they were wearing their anti-rape shorts? This twisted ideology that sexual assault is anyone but the rapist’s fault contributes to our ignorance on the issue.
The AR Wear brand goes on to promise users with “products that can be worn comfortably while still being able to frustrate an assault effectively”, because nothing is more comforting than having to physically wear modern-day armor to remind ourselves of the expectation to guard and defend our genitals, rather than enforcing the much needed consequences that committing sexual assault should bring. Though the AR Wear brand has good intentions, it’s time for us as a community turn the backwards attitude of victim blaming and ignorance towards educating about sexual rights and consent.