Wearing a Modern-Day Chastity Belt Is Not the Solution for Rape
AR Wear uses cut-proof, lockable straps to fix the form-fitting underwear onto a woman’s pelvic area.
According to their website, the company believes that “rape is about as wrong as it gets,” and declares that “the only one responsible for a rape is the rapist,” but disingenuously proceeds to say the product is intended to provide women and girls more control over their own bodies.
“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,” the company says.
The underwear uses a waist strap that cinches tightly closed and can only be unfastened with the use of a two-point, “clock hands” style lock. The voice-over declares that it is easy for the user to remember the exact position of those clock hands.
The waist, thighs and central panels are protected with specially designed, cut-resistant straps and webbing, while the waist strap prevents the underwear from being pulled down, and thigh straps prevent leg openings from being lifted or shifted to the sides by someone else.
Doesn’t that sound like fun to wear?
You can check out their product here:
The idea of anti-rape undies is wrong in so many ways.
As Amanda Hess writes in Slate: “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.”
Yes, wearing a skin-tight chastity belt is physically uncomfortable, not to mention what might happen if the user forgets the all-important position of those clock hands to free herself.
Worse than that, AR Wear claims its product “can give women and girls additional power to control what happens to their bodies in case they are assaulted.” I disagree. This modern-day chastity belt is yet another product of a society that teaches women to avoid being raped rather than teaching men to avoid raping.
AR Wear seems to be saying that women are responsible for stopping their own rape. Yet again, let’s blame the victims and not the rapists.
Another troubling aspect of AR Wear is that it resurrects the old myth that most rapes are committed by an evil stranger, lurking in the bushes, ready to throw himself on any unsuspecting woman. The reality is that approximately two thirds of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to their victim.
As Vicky Simister writing in The Guardian points out:
In a world where an Australian judge ruled that a sexual assault “must have been consensual” because she was wearing skinny jeans that he “doubted could be removed without any collaboration”, aren’t we giving the misogynists out there another weapon to excuse away rape? If your AR shorts are faulty, will you be blamed for the attack? And if, heaven forbid, this product becomes a du jour item of female fashion, will a victim of rape be called into question for not wearing them?
Resorting to literally locking away our vaginas in order to prevent rape indicates just how much work there is for us to do in the fight against rape culture. A modern-day chastity belt demonstrates just how little women’s sexual rights have progressed since medieval times.
Preventing rape has everything to do with the rapist and a culture of victim-blaming. Instead of producing panties with thigh locks, we need to work on changing the mindset of the assailants.
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