Last week, Role/Reboot published my piece on anti-rape shorts. It’s a new product created by an NY clothing firm that would apparently protect women from being at least penetratively raped. I’m not entirely convinced of its merits. But yet, I can’t help myself thinking about buying a pair.
Anti-rape wear is another example of how women must shoulder the burden of sexual violence and misogyny. This time around, we have a say in whether we wear them, but we are still allowing men—or our fear of them—to indirectly control us.
We don’t need another commercial campaign telling women how to protect ourselves. We already know. I carry pepper spray, always keep a close eye on my drink, and even know a few self-defense moves. Does that keep me safe? Maybe. But these actions don’t do anything to solve the underlying problem: We live in a world where men frequently dehumanize women and think they are entitled to women’s bodies whenever they want.
What we really need to do is teach men not to rape. That’s what Zerlina Maxwell tried to explain on Fox News last spring, if only Sean Hannity had let her get a word in edgewise. And with the rise of more and more shocking sexual violence cases, from Steubenville and Maryville to the Delhi gang rape and murder, it’s a lesson that the entire world desperately needs to hear.
Yet, despite all its faults, I confess the product intrigues me. As a college student, I would have bought these shorts in a heartbeat. A part of me wants to today.
The shorts don’t address the root cause of rape, and I don’t think it’s fair that it’s always the woman who has to restrict her movements to protect herself. I disagree with Emily Yoffe that women need to stop drinking like men to be safe from rape. I think we have every right to party as hard-core as they do without worrying we’re going to be assaulted for it. And we should be able to go out into the world without having to don protective shorts. So why do I still want to buy a pair?
I’ve been brainwashed. I too have been socialized to believe only women can prevent assault. In other words, men can’t be reasoned with, but women sure can.
How did we get to this point? I blame sexist media. It has scared women into submission.
Read the entire piece at Role/Reboot.