I have just come across something called "Anti-Rape Wear" and I have been overwhelmed by the urge to whack my head against the wall until I can't anymore. The product that has been created is a pair of pants that cannot be removed by anyone but the owner, in the hope that this will act as a deterrent for rapists. The company that created it are currently crowdfunding to get their product off the ground and say on their IndieGoGo site that it is a 'clothing line offering wearable protection for when things go wrong."
This sounds like a great thing, so why am I feeling so headwhacky about it?
This is a great idea. I'm sure it is, I'm sure so much went into researching it and that statistically something like this will really help. I am sure that it will help to make so many women feel protected and ultimately I would hope that it would decrease the number of sexual attacks that happen. But the fact that this had to be invented? The fact that preventing sexual assault is ANOTHER thing that has fallen upon women to do? THAT. That is my problem with this, or one of them at least.
Another problem that I have with this, and this is more of a question than anything else is: surely this would make a rape more 'violent' than it would otherwise have been? If an attacker tries to remove a pair of pants, with a knife let's say, and he can't get through them? Will he really just give up and walk away? Or will he fly into a rage and perhaps hurt the victim physically out of anger or frustration, maybe with the knife? I don't know and I may be totally wrong, I am sure that the creators will have thought about it but that is one of my concerns. Another concern I have is that these products were only modelled on very thin, 'fit' women, This isn't a huge point of contention for me in the grand scheme of things but there is a part of me that was very distressed to see this? Do bigger girls not get attacked or just not look so good in the product? Either way their absence was noted.
But let's get back to my main bugbear shall we? The fact that our society is apparently so fucked up that women are being advised to wear actual, real life chastity belts in order to ensure that they are not raped. They are having to lock themselves into their underwear to protect themselves.
Rape is such a sensitive subject for me, as it is for most people, both men and women. I have had friends attacked and raped and am, like lots women, sexually assaulted regularly walking down the street. It is something that I talk about a lot, that I think about a lot, but not something that I write about often. I should, I wish I did, but I often find myself wondering what I would say.
But there is one thing that I am sure of: the woman is never to blame. She is never asking for it. A girl could have her skirt hoisted up around her waist and be passed out drunk on the street, she is NOT asking to be raped. Having spoken to lots of victims of sexual assault I have often been shocked to hear that one of the first questions that is asked by the police is: what were you wearing when the assault happened? I have also witnessed the cries of horror that come from people when a girl who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs calls rape, how sorry people feel for the man who perhaps 'didn't realise' that the woman had not given consent, I am of course referring to cases like the one of Ched Evans'. I wasn't there, I don't know what happened. But I do know, as I always know; that it wasn't the woman's fault, because it never is. It can't be.
I'm not saying that by making the choice not to wear these pants will mean that a court will look less favourably on you or that you are, by going with out them, for whatever reason 'asking for it'... at least I hope I'm not. But what if I am, for argument's sake, saying that? These pants don't exist yet, but there is a part of me that worries that in years to come, when they are common place, the first question that women will be hearing from police men is: 'well were you wearing your anti-rape pants?'
The point is of course, that you shouldn't have to be. These things should not have needed to be created. In 2017, in any year, things like this should NOT be happening. And it certainly shouldn't be another instance of women needing to take another preventative measure. An extension on the advice that we are given already: 'dress appropriately, travel in groups and don't drink too much.' What we should be doing instead, what the focus of this should be is of course raising the next generation of men, and teaching the ones already fully grown, that women are not objects, that we are not asking for it, that we need to be treated with respect, that rape is never EVER okay.
I'm not angry with this company, in fact, I am impressed with them. Much like I celebrated the invention of the nail varnish that could detect date rape drugs, I am sure that this is a great thing that will help to protect women. But the fact is, we shouldn't need this. It saddens me so so much that we do. That something like this had to be created.
I invite you to support the brand if you want to, you can find their crowdfunding page HERE. But more importantly I invite you to stand with me and fight against sexual assault and sexual harassment. I invite you to speak up and speak out about it. We women are sexually harassed more than we realise and many of us don't even bat an eyelid anymore, we see it as one of those things that 'just happens', but it shouldn't, it shouldn't happen at all, and we need to remember that as we stand up and fight against a culture that is still so far from perfect.