Giving Rape Culture the “OK” One Pair of Underwear at a Time

by / 0 Comments / 92 View / June 14, 2014

AR Wear, a newly founded clothing company based in Nyack, New York, has received increasing criticism from women, feminists, and journalists everywhere. The reason? Their creation: fundraising in attempt to market anti-rape clothing. This shocking design is one more reason to believe that America has succumbed to“rape culture.” This line of clothing not only protects women from predators but also defers the predators to other women who cannot afford or may not wish to own such garments…counteracting the entire idea behind anti-rape wear while simultaneously giving into a misogynistic culture that continues to affirm rape as a regular occurrence.

AR Wear is using the slogan “for when things go wrong” as one of their marketing advertisements. This advertisement blatantly sends a message that rape is an accident, a simple mistake. Comparatively, it is the same concept as marketing a brand of paper towels to wipe up spilt milk and saying the slogan is “buy this paper towel for when things go wrong!” The difference, however, between spilt milk and rape is that rape is not a mistake. David Lisak, a clinical psychologist who has conducted studies on the nature of sexual assaults, has concluded from his research that perpetrators select their victims carefully. His results also show that nearly all sexual assaults are premeditated and that most of these perpetrators are capable of severe manipulation and control to force their victims to cooperate. This information gives reason to believe that rape is far from an accident and AR Wear is being insensitive in marketing their anti-rape product using the slogan “for when things go wrong.”

Aside from marketing their product as a defense system for a small mistake, AR Wear also says on their page, indiegogo.com, that their clothing is designed for women who are going “clubbing,” on a blind date, traveling, and going for a run at night. What they fail to realize is that 73% of rape assaults are actually committed by a non-stranger. 38% of rapists are friends or acquaintances, 28% are intimate partners, and 7% are relatives. The chances of a woman being raped by a stranger while traveling, going on a nighttime run, going on a blind date, or going “clubbing” is 27% – still high enough to worry but not as high as the rape statistics connected to close relationships. This raises the question of what a woman is supposed to wear while she is in her home or attending a party with close friends. Do women need to constantly wear these anti-rape garments for protection? Furthermore, if they do wear these garments at all times, how is their own partner, who does not want to sexually assault them, supposed to feel? A woman who purchases these garments can potentially cause a lot of confusion within a relationship because it may lead to feelings of mistrust. This alludes itself to the idea that women should live in fear of not being able to trust anyone, after all the target market for these garments are women who fear that they may be raped.

A third issue raised by the marketing of these garments is that they are marketed towards white, slender, attractive women. Not only is this a stereotype but it also feeds into the belief by society of what “beautiful” is which has led millions of girls to depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem. The ads promoting anti-rape garments by AR Wear only feature tall, thin, white women. This leads to a misconception that these are the only types of people targeted by rapists. According to SARSSM, 80% of rape victims are white, but one in five minority women are raped annually, 34% being of American Indian/Alaskan descent, 19% being African American, 7% being Asian/Pacific Islander, and 24% being of mixed races. All varieties of women can fall victim predators and no one person is protected exclusively due to their race. This type advertisement also opens AR Wear’s owners up to questions not only of racism but also of sexism. This is because AR Wear is only marketing their line of anti-rape garments exclusively women. On their website, AR Wear states that they would like to offer products to women and girls to help protect them against the constant threat of sexual assault but it is stated nowhere that they would like to offer products to men to aid them in protection against sexual assault. About 3% of American men are victims of sexual assault according to SARSSM. This means that nearly 3 million men have been victims of sexual assault.

The universal issue with AR Wear’s anti-rape clothing is that its advertising is mildly racist and very sexist. The creators of this product are perceptibly very ignorant as well. While the company outwardly has the right intentions its strategies and marketing are highly offensive. AR Wear’s advertisements openly give perpetrators the OK to try and assault women, as rape is only a simple “mistake.” To be more effective, AR Wear needs to tweak these controversial problems found within their advertising and also think about marketing a line of clothing for men as well. Naturally, the biggest issue here is the act of rape itself. If American society could eradicate rape from its culture there would be no need for companies such as AR Wear to distribute these types of garments in the first place.

References

Culp-Ressler, Tara. “What The Company Marketing ‘Anti-Rape Underwear’ Gets Wrong About Rape.” ThinkProgress. N.p., 5 Nov. 2013. Web.

Culp-Ressler, Tara. “Actually, The Link Between Sexual Assault And Alcohol Isn’t As Clear As You Think.” ThinkProgress. N.p., 29 Oct. 2013. Web.

“AR Wear – Confidence & Protection That Can Be Worn.” Indiegogo. N.p., n.d. Web.

“The Offenders.” RAINN | Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault- offenders>.

Sexual Assault and Rape Statistics, Laws, and Reports.” Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine. N.p., n.d. Web.<http://www.sarsonline.org/resources-stats/reports-laws-statics>.