Anti-rape wear may be controversial, but is it anti-feminist as well?

My boyfriend Awesome is a Reddit addict.

At any given time I am expected to drop whatever it is I am doing to have a cell phone or laptop shoved into my face so I can see the latest “crazy” video or post on the website. The other night as I was reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (I know, I’m about five years behind everyone else), I felt a nudge and what used to be the exciting words of Stieg Larsson became the screen of Awesome’s cell phone.

It was a video media campaign for something called “Anti Rape Wear.” Of course I immediately thought this was a dumb joke, but as I watched I quickly became aware that it was not. AR Wear is the company behind this controversial idea, and they have started a crowd fundraiser on to try and raise money to manufacture the undergarments. They offer several different types of underwear that offer a locking mechanism around the waist, crotch and thighs that, once locked, cannot be pulled, torn or cut off without knowing the “combination.”

Anti-rape wear is resistant to pulling and tearing. (Public Domain)
Anti-rape wear is resistant to pulling and tearing. (Public Domain)

My curiosity was aroused.

How could a pair of underwear prevent rape? I have to say, their video is pretty convincing. Then again, McDonald’s cheeseburgers look much better on television than in real life. I wanted to try some on in the hopes that I could review them for my readers, but when I emailed the founders to get a sample garment, I was sent a friendly but very succinct “no.” I found this intriguing, because the first thing I would do if I was trying to raise $50,000 for my clothing campaign would be to send a whole bunch of samples to different media outlets. So the fact that I can’t actually try the product out already makes me suspicious of its effectiveness.

When I Googled the company to see what I could find, I was immediately hit with several articles – a few touting the advantages of the clothing line, but most lambasting the founders for being “anti-feminist” or “reinforcing every rape myth you could think of.” I like women having rights but I wouldn’t say I’m a die-hard feminist, and I am a blogger, so I feel like I need to think about both the positive and negative sides to this story.

However, having a pair of underwear locked around your waist, crotch and thighs may be a comfort to some of the ladies out there who exercise outside at night, who have to walk to their cars in a dark parking lot after working a long shift, or who just want to have a fun night out. It might be nice to feel a little more secure that if someone did try to assault you, you have another weapon besides Mace, a knife, or gun.

But for some reason I keep coming back around to the same thought: doesn’t this garment perpetuate the myth that rape is an accident that can be prevented in some way? It’s almost another way of saying it was the woman’s fault for getting too drunk, dressing too provocatively, flirting too much, etc. Rape is never an accident – it’s a crime, plain and simple. Not to mention that the psychology behind rape is basically about controlling another human being against their will. Isn’t this chastity belt just an invitation to would-be rapists to get more creative when committing their abhorrent crime?

I do want to close on a lighter note. What if you actually do want to go to Sexy Town with a young fellow and you can’t get your underwear off?  What if you wear them jogging and get home without incident, but your sweat has jammed the plastic lock? And what happens when I’m not in danger of rape but am in danger of peeing my pants after I got kinda tipsy at the club? My sausage fingers will fumble at the lock at my waist, forget the combination and BAM! -my AR wear would quickly become my Huggies.

Maybe they should make a version with a built in adult diaper.

Check out their campaign here.

ARWEAR from ARWEAR on Vimeo.