It doesn’t surprise me that a U.S. company is prototyping an anti-rape underwear for women, in the same way that it doesn’t surprise me when a rape survivor’s clothes and reason for being where she was is questioned more than the rapist’s identity and the horrific act of violence itself. It is one of the dumbest things I’ve read (for reasons correctly elucidated in this Think Progress article) but that isn’t saying much given the volume of ridiculous comments, arguments, and suggestions that constantly emerge around the topic.
As always, while it doesn’t surprise me, it does make me angry. When did we as a species so completely (and seemingly irreversibly) lose the plot? I realize that that’s a stupid question in a world where actions that breed hatred and aggression continue at an alarming scale and intensity but it frustrates me no end that somewhere in this complex mess of orthodox beliefs, baseless convictions, and misappropriated superiority we’ve become accustomed to a complete disregard for what is fundamentally right and wrong. The problem at hand is not complicated. The root causes, manifestations, and systems are, yes, but the problem itself is not. Force, aggression, and a violation of human dignity is wrong regardless of the context and situation and it is always the fault of the perpetrator. Dig deeper and it’s the fault of the society, upbringing, and conditioning. Similarities emerge across all these, but never across those who have been raped. Defense classes, pepper sprays, rape whistles, and anti-rape underwear are all band-aid solutions which, despite good intentions, shift focus from interventions that have proven far more effective and long-lasting. I don’t have a problem with the products themselves but with the shortsightedness with which their connotations and inevitable harm on social fabrics and mindsets are ignored.
This post isn’t to delve into theories of rape-culture. It is merely to point out that unless we begin diagnosing the issue correctly and seeing it squarely for what it is, we are not going to get any closer to solving it.
A few weeks after I first wrote the above post on my blog, I came across an article (‘Why selling anti-rape wear perpetuates victim-blaming’) that echoed my thoughts and articulated the problem perfectly. It has some interesting examples and captures the issue well.