[Content note: rape, victim blaming, rape culture]
Have you heard of the anti-rape underwear? It's everywhere right now, so I assume most people are familiar. If you're not, a company is trying to crowd fund to make "AR Wear Confidence & Protection That Can Be Worn: A clothing line offering wearable protection for when things go wrong." As they say on their Indiegogo page:
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.The firestorm around the product, of course, is because products like this place the responsibility of rape back on victims. The preface of AR Wear's page states that they're seeking to change the cultural acceptance of rape, but how far can that really go when their product perpetuates the dangerous myth that victims are the ones who can prevent their own rapes?
There are a litany of things wrong with this horrible product, but what I would like to focus on for a second involves the discussion that emerges when people like me speak out against these products for their victim blaming undertones. Unfortunately, some people take that as some kind of endorsement of the rape culture. I was recently asked about this product on Tumblr because I shared a submission where people were calling out the underwear. When I said,
Basically, as long as we continue to put the spot light on victims in regards to rape prevention, we are doing it fundamentally wrong and it is not ultimately a good use of time or resources.I was met with,
So you're saying we shouldn't invest in rape prevention while society is currently in the position it is? We should let women get raped and refuse to allow them to take precautions against it and contribute to their fear and suffering?Hold on one sec.
Ok, I'm back. How insulting is it that in the same conversation where I am clearly trying to discuss the nuanced implications of how products like this contribute to rape culture and send dangerous messages about victims, it is implied that I'm somehow endorsing rape? That I want to contribute to the "fear and suffering" of women? Seriously? That's what this person thought I was saying?
To be very blunt about it, fuck their disingenuous "so you're saying" comment.
In case you'd like to see my full response to them, it's over at my Tumblr. But here's the cliff notes version:
I cast no shame on someone who feels safer by taking such a [self defense] class or buying a rape whistle or whatever…I cast ENDLESS shame on the cultural narrative which says women (usually) SHOULD take these classes and carry whistles and pepper spray and wear magic underwear if they don’t want to get raped. I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO DO ANY OF THAT SHIT TO FEEL SAFE.How dare anyone suggest that by asking we examine these messages, I am somehow complicit in the suffering of women. FUCK OFF. All right, that concludes my rant. Please excuse the excessive anger and swearing. No, ya know what, don't excuse it because I was justified in those feelings. I'm allowing myself this one.
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