One of my friends posted a video today that has garnered a lot of attention, both positive and negative, and it interested me enough to blog about it. I have taught self defense for the past 21 years and have seen many new products come and go, but these Anti-Rape Underwear are one that, to say the least, are controversial. Now being a man, I thought it would be of great value to co-blog this time with Piroska Bata. I also feel it necessary to say that one of the reasons I have asked a woman to also comment is because obviously I can’t speak from the position of being female so I felt it important to get another view which is why I have asked Piroska for her opinion. And by the way, neither one of us was aware of each other’s opinions ahead of posting this blog. I became aware of Piroska on Facebook a few years ago and have had the honour of reading her thoughts on many topics. Her thoughts on sexual assault, self defense, and the psychological and emotional effects of these have always been very insightful.
Piroska Bata Bio
Piroska is a nursing professional with 25 years of Burn-Trauma/Critical Care/Emergency/Mental Health experience, teaching, and business management experience holding positions in both the public and private sector as a project manager, program developer, facilitator, teacher/instructor and coach/mentor. She has a BScN from McMaster University, studied Professional coaching at Adler in Toronto, and also studied International Executive MBA at University of Toronto.
Piroska has been practicing and training as a Martial artist for the past 20 years, having developed and taught self-defence programs for women and children as well as for Public Health Nurses. She earned a Black Belt in Goyu Ryu Karate, and has studied Goyu Ryu, Shotokan, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, BJJ, Grappling, Occidental Martial Arts, Kickboxing, Tai Chi, and other combat arts.
Her passion for understanding humanity and how to become a better teacher, coach – she earned her Licensed Practitioner and Master Practitioner Certificate in NLP and became an NSP Hypnotist.
Throughout her education she was introduced to various healing modalities that she was able to apply to her patients in the hospital and in now in private practice, she has studied and became a Reiki Master/Teacher, Therapeutic Touch, Qigong, Yuen Method, and Biogenesis. Her interest in trance states led her to study forms of meditation/journeying and hypnosis, is a practitioner of Shamanic Journey-ing and Vipassana meditation.
After viewing the video, please read the thoughts from both Piroska and myself.
Piroska Bata Comments
A video was posted in our discussion group about an anti-rape device. My initial reaction to these devices is – here we go again put on band aid on the problem instead of dealing with it head on and looking at the issues more holistically.
Before we even go to discuss the device and all the issues surrounding it, as well as the self – defence issues. Let’s first define rape, so that as we refer to it, we are all on the same playing field.
Rape is or can be defined as
1. unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.
2. statutory rape.
3. an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation:
the rape of the countryside.
4. Archaic. the act of seizing and carrying off by force.
verb (used with object), raped, raping.
5. to commit the crime of rape on (a person).
6. to plunder (a place); despoil:
The logging operation raped a wide tract of forest without regard forthe environmental impact of their harvesting practices.
7. to seize, take, or carry off by force.
verb (used without object), raped, raping.
8. to commit rape.
Just by definition rape is a form of assault, violence and performing an act that is against a person without their consent with force and control – that potentially can cause physical, psychological and emotional harm……. Let’s dissect the idea of devices and what rape actually does.
One other thought……..as an aside, the devices that we see and this particular one is ONLY for Females…..we know that rape or sexual assault, happens to all sexes/genders from/by all sexes and genders. So just with this statement – I am pointing out that the LGBT community is now left out ….
First the devices are supposed to prevent penetration of object, sex organ or another body part into the vagina and anus…………this leaves the mouth, so whether the person is passed out or not – rape still can occur.
Second, the device is tamper proof, cannot be cut etc. Only the person wearing it is able to unlock and the bands that hold it in place. There are tremendous safety issues with garments and jewellery etc. that constrict or are difficult to remove. In case of rape…… yes the initial attack may be slowed down. However, the person wearing it may be forced to remove it, under stressful situation memory and also fine motor skills go out the window. This may anger/infuriate assailant and create more problems than it solves. At this point more physical harm may be more likely towards the victim. AS well, she/he may still be raped via mouth if that is fastest for the rapist. I know this sounds very graphic however – we must look at the reality of the situation when one is purchasing an anti – rape device without thinking through what is involved in reality with the physical aspects of rape.
One other issue that has nothing to do with rape is the physical safety of whoever wears this garment. If it truly cannot be cut, when this person is in an emergency situation where their clothing needs to be cut off to save a limb or life, EMS (Emergency Medical Services) will not endorse and may campaign or will not recommend it and deem it unsafe. Health Canada and FDA could ban it if there ever was a case of death, dismemberment or bodily harm.
Third, without victim blaming, depending one item to defend against rape is a bit short sighted. Awareness of our surroundings, knowing the people we interact with or go out with is as important. There is a point where the video suggests that even if the person passes out – the rapist cannot penetrate vagina and anus. This gives an unrealistic view of what is safe, – it does not take into consideration that the person could be transported to another room where they can do other things besides rape etc. It also give permission to be drinking so much that a person may pass out, – therefore wear this and It’s safer.
Fourth……. Even if the device does stop the rape. If and when it happened, the psychological trauma still happened. The shock, fear and the sense of helplessness that a person somehow got into a situation that created this is still a real feeling, emotion and may do years of psychological damage.
I am actually quite afraid for someone to wear this and go out with an overinflated sense of safety without understanding and being aware of their surroundings, how to recognize inappropriate behaviour and verbally and/or physically de-escalate and defend against a rapist or attacker.
The importance of self – preservation, self-reliance and the ability to be prepared cannot come from wearing a vaginal condom or underwear. It comes from taking classes in self0 defence an creating a sense of knowing what is acceptable behaviour to oneself from the opposite or same sex and know when and how to deal with these situations safely.
The most challenging component is the emotional damage that It can do whether penetration has occurred or not. To be overpowered with control by another human being with body parts or objects against one will – is traumatizing and terrifying. Preventing the occurrence is true prevention – preventing the person to come near, or allow them to be alone with their intended victim, or to know not to do be in a place that creates a greater likelihood of such things happening. Building a sense of confidence that will send a message of “better not mess with me” or “I am focused and know where I am going” etc… it’s in the body language, the dress and speech that messages the potential rapist “not this one”
It is not victim blaming – rather it is about us taking responsibility and accountability for our own safety and concern. The Police responds to calls, is not there to prevent. Pets are not there to protect unless they are trained dogs. Our loved ones may not be there when we work shifts or went out with friends to an event. Each individual can learn how to protect themselves, how to recognize verbal and physical threat cues, and how to verbally de-escalate and to defend – get away physically…. And they will have it for life!!!
Chris Roberts Comments
The first time I saw this, the immediate thought that came to mind was, “How Sad!” How sad that someone would even consider needing a product like this. So sad that someone would consider buying this product (because they think they need it). And so sad that more and more products like this are being produced. Here are some thoughts, concerns, and questions I have after seeing this video.
– As I always say when someone asks me if a particular self defense move, technique, or product will work; anything can work, but at the same time, not everything works and what are the consequences if something does not work? I like to analyze all the pros and cons and let people decide rather than giving them a definite answer which unfortunately many people are looking for. There can be no definitive answers for any and/or every situation, each one is unique.
– One of the first questions asked by the woman in the video is if you have ever wished you could walk alone at night and feel safer. Of course we would all like to feel safer, but what I immediately question is how do these underwear make you safer? Viewing it from the perspective of the attacker, how would they know if you are wearing them, and how will it prevent the attacker from choosing you as a victim? I often teach people who tell me they feel protected by their dog. For example, one woman told me she took shortcuts when she went jogging because she had her dog with her. When I asked her if she would jog the same route without her dog, she said, “No Way!” She felt the dog would protect her if she was assaulted. This worries me when anyone puts their faith in their pet or in a product to save them if something was to happen. And many tell me they take some extra risks relying on their dog, alarm, or other self defense product. I do not feel anyone should put any faith in anything or anyone other than themselves. Should you be able to walk anywhere, anytime you like? Certainly! Are you to blame if attacked, even if you do what others would consider stupid risks? Certainly not, it is never the fault of the victim, but I always urge people to really think twice about trusting and/or relying on someone other than yourself for your safety.
– The video suggests that this product is anti-rape wear and prevents assault. I suggest that someone may assault you and not become aware of the product until the sexual assault has already begun. Will it prevent the rape at the point that the underwear are first met as an obstacle by the rapist? Maybe, but nothing is definite. The rapist may run away due to the amount of time it would take to remove them as one of the first things rapists want to avoid is being caught. Another thing to consider is that most sexual assaults take place in an isolated area. Now the worry I have here is that once the rapist is challenged by the defense of the item that their rage escalates resulting in a heightened physical attack to get to their desired goal. It is important that people understand I am not saying that if the attacker gets angrier, that I am blaming the product, thus blaming the woman. It is never the victim’s fault, but I think it is important as I said earlier to look at all sides of the issue with the benefits and risks of all sides so the buyer can make an educated decision.
– One of my biggest concerns is that someone might buy this product without learning even just the basics of self defense, which include identifying all the pre-contact cues of a possible attack. I would start my education there since avoiding violence completely should always be the first line of defense when possible. Even then, as I often say, many people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, so there are no guarantees. The video mentions if someone has drunk too much, has been drugged, or is asleep the product will prevent an attack from taking place. Most often when someone has been drugged or taken advantage of with alcohol they again may be isolated with the attacker, giving the attacker ample time to deal with this obstacle. Might this product prevent an attack? Possibly, but I would rather take all the precautions one can before something may happen. It is so sad that I even have to teach this material, but it is a reality.
– One of the things they say that seemingly makes sense is that they felt the product needed to be resistant to cutting or pulling. The concern I have with that, after hearing stories from 1000s of women who have been attacked, is there is an excellent chance the attacker will then knock their victim out or have that same weapon used to try and cut the clothing used to physically harm them. I would prefer the person defending had more opportunity to use their physical and verbal tools than a quick escalation in the violence out of frustration from the attacker. Again, it is never the victim’s fault, but these are things to weigh the pros and cons of. In the video it shows them cutting at the waist band, but what if a knife was used to cut on any other part of the underwear? Is the whole product resistant to knife use? I am asking, but do not know the answer.
– The underwear has a combination on the front that is easy to remember for the user it says. If one is being assaulted they are in a high adrenaline situation and the ability to perform simple tasks or remember something like a combination can be very, very difficult. Not to mention, if the victim has been drugged or has been drinking, recalling the combination will be especially challenging. Any type of delay may have the attacker leave, afraid of being caught, but it may also escalate their frustration and violence due to the obstacle presented. There is no way anyone can guarantee how the attacker will behave in any given scenario. There are so many variables in the self defense environment as there are variables in attackers and their personalities.
– Will a product like this interfere with someone trusting their intuition? I am not sure, but as I have said a number of times I fear that some people may take unnecessary risks, relying on the product over their own inner strengths of psychology, and outer strengths of what they can do physically. Nothing is more important to me than developing the mindset of confidence to handle oneself, rather than the confidence in any outside influences. Without the proper mindset, no product will save someone.
– Would I suggest my daughter wear a product like this? I would prefer to prepare her mentally and physically on how to recognize and avoid potential dangers, how to use her verbal abilities, and lastly her physical tools over anything else. And I am curious of the mindset one might have wearing a product like this. Would it create a level of paranoia in the person or make them feel more confident? Only each of you can determine that for yourself.
So in closing, will these anti-rape underwear prevent an attack? No, not in my opinion, but they might prevent it at some point or, it may make the attack worse. And again I must reiterate, that regardless, an attack is never the fault of the victim, but be careful counting on anything other than yourself to protect you!
Managing Director/SAFE International