Two women, who are in the process of creating and marketing anti-rape underpants, began a crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo in October. They set out to raise $50,000 in order to finalize production-ready prototypes of their AR Wear (AR as in “Anti-Rape”). Though their campaign still has a week to go, they have already surpassed their financial goal. But in the process, these two New York-based women, Ruth and Yuval, have also garnered a great deal of attention — and criticism.

Some question whether anti-rape underpanties can even work. In their campaign, they present a video with a model wearing cute boy-pants underwear that have a built-in "skeletal structure" that is resistant to pulling, tearing, and cutting while also fitting “smoothly under form-fitting outer clothing.” The video demonstrates how the undergarment “locks” shut at the waist and thighs; a man with a knife is shown repeatedly and uselessly attempting to cut the waist band. Ruth and Yuval say they are hoping their garment “can be worn comfortably while still being able to frustrate an assault effectively.”

“The garments must be very difficult for someone else to remove by either force or stealth (in situations where the victim cannot resist because she has had too much to drink, was drugged, or is asleep),” Ruth and Yuval state on Indiegogo. Unfortunately, they more or less undercut this argument when they explain, “Emergency Room personnel or EMT’s could immediately cut away the sections of the garments that are not cut-resistant in order to reach and treat wounds.” Clearly, then, anyone with enough smarts and in possession of the right tools would be able to remove the underpants from a woman’s body.

The potential effectiveness of these underpants, then, would depend on the rapist. And this is the point at which many of their critics enter the fray. First and foremost, some suggest that Ruth and Yuval have no real understanding of what rape is and who commits this offense. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 78 percent of sexual violence involves an offender who was a family member, intimate partner, friend, or acquaintance. Critics suggest, then, that the proposed underpants would be ineffective in the majority of cases of sexual violence.

In defense of Ruth and Yuval, they suggest in all that they write that their aim is limited. They are hoping to protect a woman from a very specific kind of assault: one from an unknown or poorly known attacker. For instance, they write, “We read studies reviewing the statistics of resisting assault, whether by forceful or non-forceful means. We learned that resistance increases the chance of avoiding a completed rape without making the victim more likely to be physically injured.” Ruth and Yuval, then, have more or less outlined their own terms. The premise underlying AR Wear is to create a barrier that would allow women and girls to, in their words, “resist an attacker” — not all rapists, but a specific kind of sexual assault.

Since this is their aim, any criticism must return to the original question of whether a mere garment could possibly be effective in the case of violent assault. And, even if a pair of underpants could be made strong enough, would a woman be comfortable wearing them? Moreover, would she be wearing them when they are needed?

Where Ruth and Yuval unfortunately go wrong is when they wander into issues of responsibility. For instance, in the lead-off to their Indiegogo campaign, they write, “Rape is about as wrong as it gets. The only one responsible for a rape is the rapist…” It seems odd they would feel the need to state such a thing but their reason for doing so must have been to thwart those who claim AR Wear suggests the victim should be blamed for rape. Certainly, The Telegraph believes these pants send out the message that it's a woman's responsibility not to get raped.

I would have to disagree with that criticism. These pants send out the message that women get raped. From countless conversations with friends over the years, I have come to believe this: Many women hold two contradictory thoughts in their minds at once. They believe they have the right to dress and act as they please because good (non-rapist) men would never sexually assault them (the proverbial a good guy wouldn't hurt you "even if you are walking naked down the street”). Yet most women also believe in the possibility of rape and understand they may have to defend themselves against it. This is nothing more than lived reality and it is for this reason alone that women hold true to both these principles.

In the end, two businesswomen hope to create a new pair of underpants that will run about $50 to $60 a pair, and that will prevent a specific kind of assault. Apparently, they have found plenty of financial backers for their vision. Time will tell if they someday find customers as well.

ARWEAR from ARWEAR on Vimeo.