Matthew Miller
Mar 11, 2020

Sure, women should wear panties that call the police in case of rape

A German lingerie brand claims its high-tech panties can "protect women against rape". (No, they can't.) In other news, it's award-bait season again.

A panty made by German lingerie brand Aikyou and creative agency Jung Von Matt/Neckar uses smart yarn to detect when it's been ripped. It can then use an embedded Bluetooth antenna to contact police (and/or your mom, apparently) by reaching out via a connected smartphone app.

In other words, award bait season is upon us again. Sigh.

This 'product', which was slated to be displayed at the now canceled SXSW, is disgusting on at least three levels. Actually, five—I just thought of two more.

First, it's sick and tragic that sexual assault is so prevalent that creating a product like this seems to make at least a little bit of sense. Sexual violence remains shockingly top-of-mind for most women every single day, and if you don't believe that, just ask the women you know. You can't blame a company for wanting to highlight this shameful truth and help prevent harm. 

However...

Second layer of disgust: The companies say, in the video above, that they want to give women the freedom to wear whatever they want. But they seem unaware of the irony that 'freedom' apparently means women must wear a technologically advanced, battery-powered undergarment that is connected to their phone via Bluetooth any time they think they might be at risk of being attacked.

Third, it wouldn't work. Even if you accept that this is anything other than a stunt, and that the company plans to actually produce and sell the product (assumptions I have serious doubts about), it's not even remotely possible that it would "protect women against rape",  as the press release we received claims.

I don't want to trigger anyone by getting into too much detail, but suffice to say, women get sexually assaulted and raped in all kinds of situations where their panties don't get violently ripped. Just to cite one example, rape even happens in situations where women remove their clothes willingly and then decide to assert their absolute, incontrovertible right to control what happens next—only to have that right taken away by a man who seemed OK up until that very moment but then proved to be a rapist.

In fact, (fourth layer of disgust) equating rape to ripping of panties perpetuates inaccurate perceptions about what rape is and who commits it. That's doubly dangerous for women; it may cause them to let their guard down and it gives a men a pass on a lot of disgusting behaviour that should be considered sexual violence, because it is.

This post is filed under...
Award bait: Purpose-driven work, for better or worse
When it comes to work meant to win awards, some is very good. But some is very, very bad. We've been assessing both types for a few years now.

Fifth layer of disgust: As already alluded to, this reeks of award bait. While the brand and agency probably had good intentions, the timing, the video, and the press push all indicate that the project was executed with award wins in mind.

Why is that disgusting? Because of the opportunity cost. The lure of winning awards pushes companies to come up with novel and eye-catching—but often unworkable—ideas like this one, when simple donations to organisations that are actually fighting sexual violence would easily be more effective. 

Off the top of my head, how about supporting education for young men about what rape culture is and the process of consent? That might actually help reduce the number of potential assaulters. Or how about supporting groups that are pushing police departments to process untested rape kits that are sitting ignored in evidence lockers? That might not only result in justice for past victims and get rapists off the street but also make the threat of prosecution more of a deterrent, thereby actually protecting women from future attacks. 

Those ideas might not win awards though. So you have to choose. What do you really care about?


Matthew Miller is Campaign Asia-Pacific's managing editor. This article first appeared on CampaignAsia.com.

Source:
Campaign India

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