Anti-Rape Underwear Fundraising Campaign Ingites Backlash, Charges Of Victim-Blaming

| by

Based on what it says is empirical data showing that women who forcibly resist attackers are more likely to avoid being raped, one company is raising money on the crowdfunding site IndiGoGo to start a line of what it calls “anti-rape underwear.”

The effort has already come under attack from critics who say that, among other problems, the effort promotes the idea that rape victims are somehow responsible for their own attacks — a charge the company says is not true.

On crowdfunding sites such as IndiGoGo and Kickstarter, companies and individuals solicit donations, usually in smaller amounts, from individuals interested in supporting whatever project is being created. Typical projects would include independent films, music recordings or graphic novels.

The IndoGoGo deadline for the company, AR Wear, to raise its goal of $50,000 is November 22. As of November 6, it was slightly more than 75 percent there, with $37,577 raised. Under the site’s rules, the company receives money only if it meets its goal by the deadline.

The two Nyack, New York women behind the company are Ruth and Yuval, who decline to give their last names because, the told the web site PolicyMic, "We're trying to make this about the product, not about us.”

The product is essentially a type of lower-body garment that locks in place, made with fabric that is extremely difficult to cut or for anyone but the user to remove. You can see more details in the video below. The photo at right shows women wearing the garments.

But the company’s slogan, as stated on its IndieGoGo site, “A clothing line offering wearable protection for when things go wrong,” immediately drew criticism.

“Marketing anti-rape underwear ‘for when things go wrong’ suggests that sexual assault is an accident, or simply a night of partying gone sour,” writes Tara Culp-Ressler, health editor for the liberal web site “It subtly frames the incident in terms of the victim’s bad luck rather than in terms of the perpetrator’s decision to rape.”

The company’s founders cite a study, “A 10-Year Update of "Review and Critique of Empirical Studies of Rape Avoidance,” which concludes that resisting an attacker reduces the chance of a rape.

“Education and raising awareness about sexual assault, as well as teaching respect for one other, are important for changing rape culture.,” the company said in a press release responding to criticism that they are shifting responsibility for rape onto the crime’s victims. “But reality is that mentalities do not change overnight. AR Wear’s anti-rape clothing line is offering an option for women and girls to better protect themselves from a possible assault. Protection is not a substitute for educating society about rape.”

One of the company’s founders, Ruth, told PolicyMic that she was, herself, a victim of sexual assault.

"I got attacked two times when I was in college," Ruth said. "The first time, I fought the guy off. He thought he heard a noise somewhere, and I kept fighting. He ran away."

SOURCES: PolicyMic, ThinkProgress, IndoGoGo, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Scribd