Clothes were primarily used to protect us—from the cold, from rain, from insects, and so on. During battle, they have served as armour and camouflage, two of the most important weapons one can have. Keeping this in mind, a new trend seems to be emerging—that of anti-rape wear. People are now beginning to mix the ideas of daily wear and battle wear on a large scale, more seriously than ever before.
Chastity belts—contraptions extremely difficult to undo—have been in existence since medieval times, yet it is only recently that they have come to be worn with the sole purpose of avoiding rape. The Swedish anti-rape belt was inspired by the chastity belt, and has gained relative popularity among women. A group of Indian engineers recently also invented the anti-rape bra, equipped with GPS and the ability to send out shock waves to an attacker. There are skirts that act as instant camouflage, knife-wielding necklaces, pepper spray disguised as lipstick, and the ever-growing list doesn’t end.
As Shira Tarrant, contemporary style expert, said to the Daily Beast, “Rape is the everyday war that women face”. Yet although anti-rape wear is undoubtedly beneficial for young women in danger, it contradicts the idea that rape has nothing to do with clothing. That fact remains truer than ever—rape is caused by people, not clothing—and anti-rape wear is less of a defense mechanism than a message.
Fashion theorists often point out that clothes have another purpose—to communicate. They are symbolic of status, gender, personality, and, some might say, intent.
Anti-rape wear is not only a reflection of the seriousness with which the issue of sexual harassment has begun to be treated, but also a projection of intolerance and of action. It is a warning, an immediate threat to a potential attacker.
Whether or not anti-rape wear makes it to the daily wear category, the fact that it has made it to fashion is a positive accomplishment for society in itself.
After all, what more is fashion than a reflection of contemporary society?
It points out that society has finally begun to look at rape seriously and is now looking for actual solutions. Although anti-rape wear is nowhere near a solution, it is a step towards the solution—whether or not we wear it, we are talking about it, which is in a way an achievement of its purpose.