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Monday, June 21, 2010

South African doctor uholds rape myths with "rape-fighting" condom

Ok peeps, this is seriously HORRIBLE. On the one hand, I have to hand it to Dr. Sonnet Ehler's for deliberately taking action against rape in South Africa, which is commendable; on the other hand I want to slap her upside the head for perpetuating the stranger rape scenario! The only way this would effectively prevent (let's be honest, it doesn't technically prevent ANYTHING) rape is if women walked around 24/7 with one of these babies up their vaginas. WTF! Once again, here's a solution from a well-meaning individual who hasn't taken the time to educate themselves on the facts of sexual assault. It's like college administrators who put up more lighting outside after the number of reported rapes increases in their Cleary Report: it assumes that the rapes are committed by someone the survivor doesn't know and/or already trust. 80% of all rapes are perpetrated by someone the survivor knows!! On that point alone, this "rape-fighting" condom is basically proven to be worthless.

In addition, this device limits the definition of rape to penile penetration of a vagina. This is incredibly problematic because it doesn't recognize all the other ways a person can be raped (digitally, anally, etc). Also, it only allows cis-women to be victims and cis-men to be perpetrators, which is just plain inaccurate. What about transgendered women who may not have vaginas? What about women perpetrators? You do not have to have a penis to be a rapist (god I hope that's the last time I ever have to write that sentence...).

The only good thing about this invention is that it is IMPOSSIBLE (or so they say) to remove the condom without a doctor's assistance, so if a cis-woman is wearing it and is raped vaginally by a cis-man, THEN it is a pretty good piece of evidence to have if a survivor files a police report against the perp (no word on whether or not it would even be admissible as evidence in a court of law). Too bad that she would STILL HAVE TO BE RAPED, and suffer the physical/psychological/social consequences, in order for this "rape-fighting" condom to even be useful. Not cool.

Nice try Dr. Sonnet Ehlers, but no gadget will substitute for good old-fashioned education and targeted rape prevention campaigns. In summation, "rape-fighting" condom: probably not very good at fighting rape.

UPDATE: Feministing's original and follow-up posts on Rape-aXe. Apparently it had made the rounds in the media years ago, wonder why it's coming up again?

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