Stopping Rape... In Style? Products For Self-Protection

As women, we hear it all the time: “You shouldn’t be walking alone this time at night” or  “Make sure you girls stick together.” Advice like this is well intentioned, and it’s important for not just girls, but everyone to take measures to keep themselves safe and out of harm's way.

However, the risk of an attack is real, and women have always been most vulnerable to the threat of rape. In fact, girls ages 16-24 have the highest likelihood of an assault; 4 times higher than any other age group.

This thought is not only in the minds of would-be victims, but also in those of innovators and companies producing a new market of anti-rape products. From cosmetics to clothing to accessories and oftentimes multifunctional, these products are designed to protect and provide peace of mind to the modern women; stopping rape in style.

Spiked-Drink Detecting Lip Gloss:

2 Love My Lips is a British brand of lip plumping gloss with a twist; each tube comes with a test kit for GHB/ketamine, common date rape drugs. The concept is simple enough; a woman suspicious of her drink simply pulls out her lip gloss/test strip combo. If the strip turns blue, the drink conclusively has been spiked.

Other concepts proposed include nail polish that, when dipped in a drink, changes color on the nail if drugs are present.

Camouflage Skirt:

In Japan, Aya Tsukioka has innovated a design to help women hide from would be attackers. The maxi skirt unfolds into a large sheet of fabric printed with the likeness of a Coca-Cola vending machine. It’s designed to help girls camouflage themselves among the many vending machines lining the streets of Japan if or when they feel threatened. Tsukioka has stated that “these ideas might strike foreigners as far fetched, but in Japan, they can become reality” as, in the case of an attack, “it is just easier for Japanese to hide. Making a scene would be too embarrassing.”

Anti-Rape Belt Buckle:

This belt, designed by several teenagers in Sweden, is innovated in such a way that only the wearer can take it off. Necessitating two hands to remove, the belt is intended to thwart a would-be rapist by requiring the latch be moved through a maze before the buckle can open.

Cell Phone Stun Gun Case:

Yellow Jacket created a covert stun-gun/iPhone case that protects not just your smart phone but yourself as well. It may look like just an average case, but when charged and activated it actually delivers a shock to an attacker. Bonus: it also has portable phone charging capabilities, keeping your phone battery full so you can call for help while your assailant is writhing on the ground in pain.

Anti- Molestation Jacket:

Designed by two Indian grad students, this coat, feeling and weighing as much as your average denim jacket, was created to provide ample protection. Dually insulated, the outer layer is rigged with wires camouflaged into the embroidery and attached a switch at the waistband. If a woman is attacked, she can flip the switch and deliver 110 volts of electricity to anyone touching the outside layer of the coat. And to go with any wardrobe, it is available in denim and acrylic.

Anti-Tearing/Cutting/Ripping Undergarments:

These boy shorts and yoga pants deliver the comfort of their average counterparts with the added protection of an impenetrable armor. They cannot be ripped or cut or torn, and can only be removed by the wearer. While reaching their funding goal on Indiegogo (a kickstarter funding site for products) in only a month, this brand of apparel, known as AR Wear, has also been a lightening rod for criticism. What do you think, Collegiettes?

Innovators and inventors are seeing a need and designing to fulfill it. Women want and deserve to be safe. And while these products can do much good and provide peace of mind to the wearer, they also bring to light an important discussion onto whom society places the responsibility of a rape. Whose job is it to prevent a rape: the victim or the attacker?

Of course, wanting to protect oneself should only be encouraged, and all of these items can liberate the wearer from fear of an assault or even save a life. However, they also illuminate an interesting point...

Maybe it's time for our culture to focus less on telling women to not walk alone at night, and focus more on telling society not to attack people anytime of day.

I'm Mia and I'm a student studying communications and psychology at UMass Amherst.

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