AR Wear Anti-Rape Undergarments Attempt to Combat Sexual Assault

Repel rapists with your underwear? That's the promise behind by the new line of AR Wear "anti rape" undergarments, leggings and shorts, described as "wearable protection for when things go wrong." The still-in-development line has already raised more than $25,000 on crowd-funding site IndieGoGo, with a proposal that acknowledges "the only one responsible for a rape is the rapist" but notes that women still need to protect themselves. And, no, the consensus seems to be that AR Wear is not a parody.

"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," note the makers of AR Wear.

Their goal is to develop a range of underwear and shorts that are resistant to pulling, tearing and cutting but also comfortable and normal-looking enough to go unnoticed.

"The garments must be very difficult for someone else to remove by either force or stealth (in situations where the victim cannot resist because she has had too much to drink, was drugged, or is asleep)."

Right now, AR Wear's "concept prototypes" are made with cut-resistant webbing behind the waist, thighs and center and a locking device at the waist. So what we have here are essentially modern-day chastity belts (albeit user-controlled, at least).

The Belle Jar blogger Anne Thériault worries that the garments may perpetuate victim-blaming. It "does little more than offer society one more reason to blame rape victims for their rape. It gives people the chance to say, 'Well, if only she’d been wearing those special panties, this wouldn’t have happened,'" writes Thériault.

PolicyMic's Andrea Garcia-Vargas notes that the AR Wear website, press release and pitch letter imply that stranger rape is incredibly common, but it's not. "Yes, we should help women feel safer. But the answer — just like the question — has never been about what a woman wears."

The women behind AR Wear seem quite well-intentioned, and I could see how these garments might provide women with a sense of security. It just seems like it might be a false sense. I'd worry that the AR Wear itself might result in additional violence from an assailant; and someone using a gun, weapon or physical violence could still demand the AR wear be removed. Do these underwear make you feel safe? Maybe. But only rapists can stop rape. This seems to be putting a lot of faith in underwear.