AR Wear = anti-rape wear

I came across this article/post today written by Amanda Hess. It details a new method of combating rape. AR wear works as protective shorts that are resistant to pulling, tearing, and cutting.

Here’s a snippet of the post:

” While we’re working on that whole rape culture thing, AR Wear will help women move freely about the world with the confidence that only a reinforced skeletal structure around her vagina can provide. After all, nothing makes a woman feel comfortable in her own body like a constant physical reminder that she’s expected to guard her genitals against potential sexual assaults at all times. Then again, it beats explaining to mom, dad, and the local public defender why you failed to strap on your rape-deflecting bootie shorts when you fell asleep at a friend’s house and “things went wrong.”

While I loathe the fact that women would even have a need for this, I reject Hess’ implication that this piece of clothing will make a woman even more self-conscious about her body. When I am walking alone late at night or if I know that my friend is, I am nervous and on edge until they walk through the door safely. This would not change because I was wearing something like AR wear. The fact that I am woman living in this time in this society, and on top of that, one who has a vagina, is a constant reminder that I must guard myself against potential sexual assaults. By Hess’ logic, people also should not carry around mace or rape whistles, or anything that would make them feel protected because it would remind them of their liability to be raped or assualted.

I also do not think that the creators mean to dismiss rape culture. The fact is that rape happens and if a pair of shorts could protect me or someone else from it, even in the smallest way, then I have no objections.

What’s your take? Is Hess right in her implications? Is AR Wear a bad idea that promotes rape culture?

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7 thoughts on “AR Wear = anti-rape wear

  1. I don’t think AR Wear promotes rape culture. I also don’t think it’s a product for everyone, but I think if there are any women out there who will feel safer by wearing this protective item of clothing, then why not, especially if it is as effective as the creators claim. Personally, the entire idea that there is a need for me or any women to wear this underwear to feel or remain safe makes me feel sick to my stomach. Most women who are raped know their assailants, which makes me wonder if this underwear is meant to be worn every day for all occasions–it scares me that this would need to become a norm or routine for any woman. We shouldn’t have to protect our bodies, but the reality is, our bodies are threatened; sexual assault statistics reveal this: one in four women is sexually assaulted in her life. It’s sad that there is a market for this type of product, that many women feel threatened (they have over $30,000 donations–obviously there are people who want it or believe in the need for it). I agree with Hess that some women may feel self-conscious wearing a garment that serves as a reminder of the threat of sexual assault, but some women may not–for some women, it make be the only way they no longer feel self-conscious. And we all have a right to protect ourselves and decide what makes us feel safe.

  2. I have a few problems with AR wear besides the ones discussed already in this post, the comments, or the article hb linked. First, this anti-rape wear is designed to fit a very specific type of body. What about for women whose sides and stomach are bigger than their hips? Theoretically this garment could easily be removed from women who don’t fit this presumed body shape.

    Also this gear reminds me a little too much of chastity belts. It feels like a massive step backwards rather than any type of progression from rape culture. How will these clothes actually be used? Will parents use them to control their daughters’ sex lives like the chastity belts of old?

    If they want women to wear these out at the club, we are realistically going to have a lot of intoxicated women struggling and potentially not being able to get these off in the bathroom when they are trying to pee…

    More importantly I feel like these AR wear underwear fetishize vaginas and penetration. A woman can still be easily attacked and sexually assaulted with these on but she might avoid being “raped” in the traditional sense of the word, namely penetration of a penis in the vagina. It feels like this anti-rape wear goes along with all of the major problems with rape culture. It normalizes the experience of rape to be penetration, and therefore potentially diminishes the claims of women who are sexually assaulted in other ways while wearing these underwear. Also I find it hard to ignore the clear message to women “Don’t get raped.” rather than the appropriate message to rapists of “Don’t rape.”

    Not to denigrate the women who choose to wear these or the benevolent intentions of the makers of this product, but I have major concerns about this product and its message.

    • While I understand many of your points, I disagree with a few of them.
      This product does seem to be targeted for a specific body type but that can be said about all clothes. The majority of brands and retailers only manufacture and sell clothing targeting at smaller women. This by no means makes it okay or acceptable but I see it as a societal issue and not one centered directly with this product.

      I have read that it is reminiscent of chastity belts but I do not see how parents could force their children to wear these, unless they physically clothe them. I feel like a parent could just as easily tell their child that they are not allowed out alone or to wear “revealing” clothes. If they are determined and take the forceful route, then what is stopping them from chaining the child to their bed, not letting them go outside, or what have you.

      I think underwear in general fetishizes sexual organs. A victim cannot control whether or not someone is going to assault them. There is no one thing that can protect someone from sexual assault except making a change and taking steps towards addressing rape. With this underwear, it may help those who are interested feel protected from this one form of rape.

      Again, I feel like the “Don’t get raped”/ “Don’t rape” can be applied to anything. It is a form of protection and while society’s focus should be to halt the source of danger, I would not abandon things that could possibly protect. Soldiers wear bullet proof vest and society’s goal should be minimizing war. Nothing stops the enemy from shooting a soldier in the head but that does not mean a soldier should forgo his gear. And I know that soldiers sign up for the job, but whether we like it or not, rape happens and until we make a change, I think that people should have the option of wearing these. I also believe that a person should not be judged for choosing to wear these or not.

      • Thanks for your response. I definitely agree with you that women should be able to wear this if it makes them feel safer and I would never want to make someone feel judged. I just think that creating these types of products in general can be problematic to the discourse on rape, but at least it sparks discussion which is something. And if it allows for the women who do choose to wear these products to feel safer than why not.

      • I think this product also ignores the reality of date rape. Sexual assault including can occur in sexual situations. This product makes it seem like women are protecting themselves from strangers on the street, when rape can and does often occur by a sexual partner or acquaintance.

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