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Would You Ever Buy a Pair of “Anti-Rape Underwear”?

AR Wear stands for Anti-Rape Wear, and it’s a new, crowdfunded line of durable, tight, cut-resistant shorts and underwear. From the company’s campaign page:

Rape is about as wrong as it gets. The only one responsible for a rape is the rapist and AR Wear will not solve the fundamental problem that rape exists in our world… [But], as long as sexual predators continue to populate our world, AR Wear would like to provide products to women and girls that will offer better protection against some attempted rapes while the work of changing society’s rape culture moves forward.

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.

Many parts of the video for AR Wear really grind my gears (the still shot in this post is just one example), and it’s very upsetting to think of $50,000 going to a product that plays on fear, a wildly inaccurate and persistent definition of “real” rape (“This isn’t for domestic rape, or rape by people you know,” stated one of the creators. “This is for those situations when you’re on a blind date, or in unfamiliar places”), and of course the why-won’t-it-die idea that rape prevention falls on anyone except the rapist. And there are so many offensive fear-mongering ways in which I can imagine this product being deployed: an overprotective mom buying a whole set of these for her daughter who’s about to travel Amongst Foreigners, a girls’ cross-country team forced to wear these when they’re running through the “urban” part of town.

But I also don’t want to dismiss the possibility that, to some women, this product could feel tremendously welcome. I’m thinking of Maya, the woman I interviewed who was raped by a stranger in a club, as a virgin. On occasion she still feels flashes of sickness and panic in rowdy party situations; I wonder if underwear like this would feel like a welcome protection in the recovery process. I don’t know. The world is awful.


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