Anti-Rape Underwear: A Step in the Right or Wrong Direction?

Anti-rape underwear prototype.

Anti-rape underwear prototype.

There are seemingly two sides to the discussion about AR Wear and their anti-rape underwear. There’s the pro, where these new underwear have the potential to save a woman from rape; and then there’s the con, that the underwear cause violence in a hostile situation. What people fail to see is the outside, logical angle: these panties are not a solution FOR rape, they are merely a protection AGAINST rape—one does not solve the issue of the other. While I believe this product has the potential to help in situations that could result in a rape (parties where drinking is expected, raves, late work nights or walking alone in a city), the concept of these panties fails to take into account the true statistics of rape.

image found on www.businessinsider.com

image found on www.businessinsider.com

Most rapes are done to a young woman by someone she knows—a father, an uncle, a brother, cousin, family friend, a husband, a boyfriend, etc. These panties wouldn’t be worn in anticipation of a familial assault, and it would be unexpected for a youth under the age of 18 to predict it. In rape and sexual assault cases between the 1990’s and 2010’s, 93% of cases are by perpetrators the victim (either male or female) knows. Of those cases, 34.2% were family members, and 58.7% were acquaintances. Only 7% of perpetrators were strangers. Then, of those family members, 80% were parents—that’s right—parents; 6% were other relatives; 4% were the unmarried partners of a parent, and 5% were identified as “other,” ranging from siblings to strangers[1].

Image from http://www.cypnow.co.uk

Image from http://www.cypnow.co.uk

So think about these statistics in relation to the access young girls would have to the anti-rape underwear: 44% of victims are under the age 18, more specifically, 29% of victims are age 12-17. Girls ages 16 to 19 are 4 times more likely to be victims of attempted rape or sexual assault than the general population. Let that sink in. Are we really protecting girls and women with anti-rape underwear? If in an age range under 18, only 7% of assaults or rape were strangers, how likely are these panties to protect a woman in any age group? If 4 out of 5 rapes (in all age groups) are committed by someone the victim knows, then how likely is that 1 random attack going to be stopped by the anti-rape underwear?

Image from http://www.ilgiornale.it

Image from http://www.ilgiornale.it

The occurrences by strangers are not frequent enough to justify the spending on underwear that will be used in a social setting as opposed to in the home, where most rapes actually occur.

I bet these panties won’t come sized for a 4 year-old either, not that a parent is going to assume their 4 year-old might be assaulted by their spouse. AR Wear doesn’t have the right clientele in mind to actually prevent a rape. Not to mention the fact that this product is like owning a gun. A gun is great for self-defense, but a gun does not prevent the attack from happening in the first place. We’re starting on the wrong end of the battle.

Instead of putting funding into a product that helps protect against rape (but not physical violence or sexual assault), we should be funding programs to teach children in school, at reasonable ages, the concept of self-respect, and respect for others, their property, and their bodies. There should be a weekly lesson in elementary schools about respecting people and their properties. Lessons in middle school should tell adolescents that no one has the right to touch their bodies, and that respecting their own bodies is a good way to prevent lowering their standards of what is okay in a relationship—romantic, familial, or in general. Programs in high school should form groups to bring awareness to rape, to create comfortable environments where girls, boys, men, and women can feel free to express any hurt or wrong that’s been done to them. Fears should be faced, accepted, understood, and discussed in a group setting where young adults can address why the victim has a right to feel violated, as well as ways how to, and why the victim should, overcome their fears. In a society where suicide is becoming a go-to solution, creating a world where there’s understanding could be the difference between life and death.

Image from www.fao.org.

Image from www.fao.org.

Too often we joke about, and even dismiss rape, but we haven’t made a movement to understand rape. What causes someone to feel so strongly that they take what isn’t theirs? We need to accept rape as a social topic, and we need to discuss it and make rape something that people feel safe to talk about. Most young women will not report rapes because they feel responsible for the rape or even afraid of being judged for being raped. No women or child should ever feel this way! Not only is the rape not their fault, they should never be judged for the actions of others. By researching the minds and actions of rapists, we could learn to anticipate actions or social situations where rape seems more likely to occur. Women can analyze a situation and see an opportunity to leave, or call for help. Understanding why a person rapes will only help us to understand how to treat it, and prevent it.

When I use the term “treat,” I use it as an proposal: to remove the underlying cause of rapes, by figuring out why they happening, targeting that reason, and producing a solution that doesn’t leave the predator feeling entitled to the victim’s body. Does a man rape simply because he wants sex and sees a woman and takes it? I hardly doubt it’s that simple. If that were the case, men and women would be raping each other left and right out of pure desire. So what causes a man or woman, to feel entitled to someone else’s body, especially that of a youth?

These are the questions AR Wear should put funding into, it’s not enough to arm a woman, she has to fight back too.