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November 07, 2007

Comments

You know, I'm simultaneously really curious as to how they tested this thing during development and really not.

i can't tell whether the world just got marginally better or marginally worse but it certainly just got marginally weirder.

A hospital that will document the procedure, for future use in criminal proceedings. Heh heh heh.

Well, of course, this is being marketed for self-defense against rape, but like any weapon, there is no guaranty that it will only be used in self-defense. A man being injured by one is hardly conclusive proof that he was a rapist. Maybe it's the cirminal defense attorney in me, but I can imagine alternative scenarios . . .

rufus, you beat me too it. Product development and testing must have been quite a challenge.

If my wife has complaints tonight because I can't get that image out of my head, you're going to be hearing from her. :o

I predict that women who use this will be killed, alas.

i predict they'll die laughing.

Are you sure that's not a jelly fish?

YEEEARRRGGHHH!

Are you sure that's not a jelly fish?

I'll never go swimming again.

Scariest question in the FAQ:

Won't I forget the device is in?

I think Dr. Science makes a very good point. Rape used to be a capital crime in a number of jurisdictions until cooler heads realized that the fact that having the same penalty for rape and murder might insure that the latter crime would be committed to get rid of the best witness against the former.

Doctor Science beat me to it. For every action...

Whatever the consequences to the first women to use them, wouldn't their adoption tend to discourage rape in general?

I predict that women who use this will be killed, alas.

Maybe they could include a complimentary gun with each purchase.

Thanks -

Vagina Dentata.
What a wonderful phrase!
Vagina Dentata.
It ain't no passing craze...

Fortunately this device is completely compatible with my patented Ball Gong (tm).

Once the trigger sensitive trip wire is fastened across the Rapex (optional adapter not included), penetration will result not only in a painful impalation by the Rapex but the Ball Gong will also issue an immediate quick kick to the nuts of the perpetrator. Thereby giving the victim time to flee before the impaled perp gathers his ummm wits.

"Maybe they could include a complimentary gun with each purchase."

The complimentary gun in action: Jane reacted sharply to the threat, drawing her complimentary gun, and firing off three shots in quick succession.

"That outfit looks particularly sharp on you!"

"Your thesis was one of the most insightful I've ever read!"

"You're a really good friend, you know?"

The man with the knife, fell to the floor, stunned. Jane reloaded three new compliments, and holstered her gun.

I thought they already made something like that. . .? Maybe it was more damaging, and they couldn't get it licensed/sold/whatever as easily.

It's certainly reminiscent of the Chicago woman a few years ago who -- when ordered to have oral sex by her rapist -- promptly bit off his testicles, marched into the nearest police station and plopped them down on the reception sergeant's desk. (I would have loved to see his face.)

Whatever the consequences to the first women to use them, wouldn't their adoption tend to discourage rape in general?

No. Just to encourage rapists to check and remove the "vagina dentata" before penetration - or to rape a woman anally instead.

This is a fun post, Hilzoy: but given that the majority of women are raped by someone they know, it's not exactly going to stop rape, and the number of rapists who are damaged by it will (alas) be minimal, if any. About the only way it would prevent rape would be if a woman kept one inserted all the time unless she specifically intends to have vaginal intercourse.

Hate to throw cold water on it. It is kind of fun to think of a man who thinks he's entitled ending up with a damaged dick. OTOH: a man who can't use his dick to rape a woman is just as likely to use other implements instead. Women have ended up with shredded vaginas because a man who intended to rape them has been hit by impotence and used a bottle or a stick. Or a gun. Fundamentally what stops a man from raping isn't whether he can get his dick up, it's whether he thinks it's okay to have sex with a woman who hasn't given him active and enthusiastic consent.

I like Neal Stephenson's version better: the dentata injects a strong sedative into a vein in the penis on insertion, rendering the attacker quickly unconscious.

At which point, arbitrary indignities can be inflicted on his unconscious person.

+ Won't I forget the device is in?

Not more than once.

A man being injured by one is hardly conclusive proof that he was a rapist

But it does prove, at a minimum, that he wasn't very interested in foreplay...

Rea, Dr. Science, and Jes make good points. This is an interesting post, but the product itself is at best useless, if not actively stupid.

I also predict that when a use of this product next appears in the news, it will be in the context of either:

1. A he-said-she-said alleged date rape scenario/revenge, in which the man claims that he was not a perpetrator but the victim of an vengeful/jealous girlfriend/wife.

-or-

2. Some kind of bizarre autoerotic misadventure involving BDSM.

"Can this be worn during masturbation?"

WTF? I anticipate many awkward ER visits.

Some kind of bizarre autoerotic misadventure involving BDSM and an influential Republican.

Some kind of bizarre autoerotic misadventure involving BDSM and an influential Republican
...with one of these up his arse.

Wow.

The general tenor of the comments appears to me to be an astounding lack of contextual understanding of the problems this device is intended to address.

This isn't singles bars in Manhattan, nor is it college dorm frolics. This isn't date rape after dinner and a movie we're discussing.

This is aimed at a world away from those places, where rape is common and commonly goes without prosecution. This isn't even comparable to Western Culture. Pulled from your house (hut) and raped, pretty much at random.

If this thing hurts one scumbag, it's done an admirable thing.

von wrote: "I also predict that when a use of this product next appears in the news, it will be in the context of either..."

As Barrett alludes to, this is from South Africa, where rape is far, far, FAR more common than in the US.

I'm thinking they'll have to come up with a version for the butt.

Couldn't the anal version be easily farted out?

Barrett: This is aimed at a world away from those places, where rape is common and commonly goes without prosecution.

Like the US? Or the UK? Where rape is common and most rapists are never prosecuted, and most of those prosecuted are never convicted?

Jes, South Africa is worse.

The US and UK are bad, but SA is...well, worse.

I know. I apologize for sounding as if I were trivializing the South African rape figures.

As Barrett alludes to, this is from South Africa, where rape is far, far, FAR more common than in the US.

I agree with your factual observation, but don't know why it alters the comments by Rea, Jes, and Dr. Science (which were the basis for my comment).

"Like the US? Or the UK? Where rape is common and most rapists are never prosecuted, and most of those prosecuted are never convicted?"

2004 U.S. FBI crime statistics:

[...] In 2004, according to victims, 50% of violent crimes and 39% of property crimes were reported to the police. The proportions of crime reported to the police has increased since 1993, when victims indicated that 43% of the violent crimes and 34% of the property crimes had been reported.
2004:
[...] Reporting to the police

During 2004, 50% of all violent victimizations and 39% of all property crimes were reported to the police. The percentage of violent crime reported differed among the specific types of crime. Robbery (61%) and aggravated assault (64%) were most frequently reported to police. Thirty-six percent of victims who experienced rape/sexual
assault and 45% of the victims experiencing simple assault indicated that their victimization had been reported to the police. Motor vehicle theft continued to be the property crime most frequently reported to the police (85%).

Fifty-three percent of burglaries and 32% of household thefts were reported to the police in 2004. Rates of reporting for violent victimizations did not differ for males across racial categories. Female victims who
were black or of other races were more likely to report violent victimization to the police than were white females. Non-Hispanic and Hispanic males were equally likely to report victimizations to the police. Among females, Hispanics were more likely than non-Hispanics to report a violent crime. In contrast, non-Hispanic females were more likely than Hispanic females to report a property crime.

Here is a comparison of conviction rates for certain crimes between U.S. and "England and Wales" (the Scottish and Northern Irish justice systems being distinct, of course) from 1981 to 1996.

As we see, conviction rates for rape are far higher than for murder, robbery, or assault. (They're also far higher in the U.S. than in England/Wales -- of course, the U.S. also has a far higher reported number of these crimes, as well.)

For what it's worth, the report notes:

[...] The higher U.S. conviction rate for rape is attributable both to the higher U.S. police-recorded rape rate and to a United States criminal justice system that catches and convicts rapists at a higher rate than England's system. According to the most recent statistics on crime (1996) and the justice system (1994 in the United States, 1995 in England), the U.S. police-recorded rape rate is three times England's (figure 5), but the U.S. rape conviction rate is over eight times England's (.212 versus .025) (figure 20), indicating that a rape in the United States is more likely to lead to conviction than one in England.
My primary point, though, is simply that most crimes aren't reported, and most crimes don't result in arrest or convictions. Rape is not unusual in this, although, of course, it's historically significantly under-reported compared to other crimes.

Some more Bureau of Justice Statistics stats if anyone else wants to poke around.

von wrote: "I agree with your factual observation, but don't know why it alters the comments by Rea, Jes, and Dr. Science (which were the basis for my comment)."

Really? I don't see the connection between your comment and theirs. I can see their point, especially in the case of gang rapes, where the woman will end up with one pissed off but incapacitated rapist and a bunch of other rapists who will punish her for the 'effrontery' of doing that to a man.

Your "date/spouse rape" or "bdsm mishap" scenarios strike me as being decidedly US/UK-centric, as opposed to South African, where crime is such that another recently promoted personal defense product was a set of flame jets mounted in the doors of your car.

"...where crime is such that another recently promoted personal defense product was a set of flame jets mounted in the doors of your car."

Could I get the ejector seat option? In purple?

Gary -- Bravo, sir. That was Thullenesque.

... referring to yours of 12:07 am. Must - remember - to - enter - code.

The way the website is written, they come across as cranks and/or conmen:

"What is your response to the few negative responses to RAPEX?" - "As with everything in life there will be negative attitudes and I can't be responsible for people who refuse to educate men and feel the device is medieval."

I'd hesitate to wear even a wristwatch invented by that crew.

(BTW, to Rufus's question about testing: they say they used anatomical models. I suspect that if any actual women had tried it, they might have taken issue with the claim that a two-inch-wide rigid tube is just as comfortable [sic] as a tampon.)

Really? I don't see the connection between your comment and theirs. I can see their point, especially in the case of gang rapes, where the woman will end up with one pissed off but incapacitated rapist and a bunch of other rapists who will punish her for the 'effrontery' of doing that to a man.

OK, let me help you out. Rea, DrS, and Jes point out reasons why this product is impractical and/or may be cause more trouble than it solves. (There are others.) I note that I agree with them. Moreover, because this device is so impractical -- yes, even in SA -- I predict that it is probably only going to be used in an unusual situation.

Even in SA, how many women are going to apply this device every day? Granted that I lack a vagina, but this doesn't look like something that's particularly comfortable to wear. Of those who do wear the device, how many are going to be killed by their assailant -- nevermind any accomplices -- once it latches on? Those spikes look painful; they don't look debilitating. Moreover, from appearances, the device is going to lose some of its effectiveness once the assailant becomes flaccid, which is probably going to occur pretty fast.

So, to sum up: This is a device that is 10,000 times better in theory than it is in practice -- which makes me think that the practical reality is that it is only going to be used in unusual circumstances.

I had to log on to compliment gary farber on his post. But I'll also take a stab at the "is it really good for society if women start carrying around a removable vagina dentata..."

Women get raped, and in South Africa the numbers are astonishing. To know whether this particular little defense will be a good thing or a bad thing you'd have to know a lot more about the circumstances under which rapes in SA generally occur. Are they secretive? Do they happen in crowded places? Are women afraid to report them or shout for help because of accusations that they were really "asking for it?"

I can imagine many circumstances in which the portable vagina dentata might work to a particular woman's disadvantage (gang rapes, as some p=have pointed out) or anal or oral rape. But if the majority of rapes are taking place in crowded social settings and if rapists are relying on the rape victim not wanting to make a public fuss because of potential accusations of complicity then the vagina dentata may be just what the doctor ordered.

Most of all I think that this whole discussion partakes of a contempt for women's intelligence that is kind of striking. Are people on this board under the impression that S african women can't figure out whether this puts them at greater risk than not having the item? Are they under the impression that S african women can't figure out how and when to use something like this to their own advantage? There is *always* a risk to the individual woman in putting up a fight against a rapist. And there is a risk to all other women when some women start to put up a fight. It is, and always has been, an arms race: the more agressively defensive women are the more agressively agressive their rapists are--if the cost of continuing to rape isn't raised beyond what the rapist is willing to pay.

I see a potential place for this device in temporarily incapacitating a lone rapist and rendering him vulnerable to gang female justice if rapes are primarily a solitary act performed on women who could get help from other women if they could create and muster some kind of solidarity. So I don't see much difference between the vagina dentata and giving every woman a bullhorn adn a club. I'm neither against it nor for it in a philosophical sense. We'll have to see how it is adopted and how it works in prctice before we condemn it as too dangerous or too useless.

aimai

Everyone was okay and this thing hurt me. I reflexed and only hit her once.

Maybe the person attacked would get violent.

Vietnam was razor blades.

Aimai: "Most of all I think that this whole discussion partakes of a contempt for women's intelligence that is kind of striking. Are people on this board under the impression that S african women can't figure out whether this puts them at greater risk than not having the item?"

Well I guess if the commenters here were agitating to block sales of the gadget, or going to South Africa and taking them away from women, you might have a point. Otherwise there's nothing contemptuous or sexist about discussing potentially serious flaws in an idea. People have been trying to sell dumb things to other people, and saying that they will solve serious problems, for millennia; and when they get a skeptical response they'll often say things like "I suppose you have a better idea?" or "I suppose you don't think X is a serious problem then?" or "Are you saying my customers are stupid?" There's a bit of that kind of rhetoric on the Rapex site; it's not really necessary here.

I do think this whole discussion is based on the unwise assumption that this is a real product. I've seen two articles which seem to be based on nothing more than a press release, and a barely literate website full of obfuscation and grandiose claims. Note that they are soliciting money toward a vague goal of coordinating worldwide anti-rape efforts and "exchanging information" - though for all their talk about raising awareness, they don't provide a single link to any resources or organizations against sexual violence - and the contact page says nothing about who or where they are, it just asks you for your address. It really does sound like a scam to me.

farmgirl: "Gary -- Bravo, sir. That was Thullenesque."

aimai: "I had to log on to compliment gary farber on his post."

Gee, thanks. But as regards this: "The man with the knife, fell to the floor, stunned," I have no idea how that first comma got in there; I claim sabotage by the Comma Gremlins, who so frequently plot against me.

(Note: that's not "I claim sabotage by the Comma Gremlins who so frequently plot against me.")

It's the only possible explanation.

Other than my fallback: prescription drugs.

We'll have to see how it is adopted and how it works in prctice before we condemn it as too dangerous or too useless.

I was thinking the same thing. Nothing like empiricism. What's got me vexed is this notion that vaginas don't have teeth. I'll have to discuss this with my wife and urologist.

Posted by: Slartibartfast | November 08, 2007 at 07:08 AM

I thought of that, too! And the heroine forgets it's in, but in Snow Crash the dentata's use creates suspense and a bit of humor, since it's consensual sex.

More seriously, I'm with aimai on this one. I can't forget the P.O.V. episode on rape as a weapon of war in the Congo not long ago. It's just brutal.

Oh yeah, and the other reason I don't think these folks are on the up and up: I'm familiar with human female anatomy.

The device in that photo makes no sense. An actual female condom has a ring that sits outside the vulva, and another ring or sponge that rests near the cervix and keeps the whole thing more or less where it's supposed to be. But they're saying this fits entirely inside and can't be seen. I can't imagine how the flared ring at the mouth of this gadget could hold it in place for 5 minutes; to have any kind of foothold, so to speak, the flare would have to be at the other end. Tampons stay in because they're thin and soggy, diaphragms stay in because there's a larger space in front of the cervix. To stay in just from the frictional force of that one front ring (I'm assuming they didn't put any hooks on the outside) it'd have to exert enough pressure on the vaginal wall to be painful and damaging, and it'd be visible; the labia minora are not sliding doors.

And even if it didn't fall out, the only way it could keep the gadget aligned and open enough to catch the bad guy, and not just get bunched up or pushed back, is if the whole tube were rigid - in which case it'd feel exactly like having a speculum exam all day.

That is SO last April.

Actually, they've been talking it up for two years, and their website still says they're going on the market in "late 2006".


BTW, looking at the other pictures now... I was slightly wrong about the design, I see they did put some traction ridges along the outside. Still can't see that being physically feasible or tolerable, and all the references to it being just like a female condom are plain untrue.

What's got me vexed is this notion that vaginas don't have teeth. I'll have to discuss this with my wife and urologist.

Yeah, bacon, playdoh and teeth, right?

Any chance we can move the post down a bit or maybe put the picture below the fold? I mean, my jellyfish excuse may hold up on first glance, but upon closer examination the ability of the device to hold its shape makes the excuse a bit suspect.

Plus the teeth. Gah!

So how would this work? Would women just wear this in case they were to get raped? Would there not be the possibility of something like toxic shock in that event? Has a woman actually commented about the comfort/discomfort level having itin you 24/7?

Where this might have a deterrent effect is if a man fears that a woman might have one in. On the toher hand, there is also the risk that eventually, before raping a woman, a man would check to see if a woman was using this device and have it removed.

"It's certainly reminiscent of the Chicago woman a few years ago who -- when ordered to have oral sex by her rapist -- promptly bit off his testicles, marched into the nearest police station and plopped them down on the reception sergeant's desk. (I would have loved to see his face.)"

Link to original story:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4155/is_20010520/ai_n13904285

Follow-up (the man's defense):
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4155/is_20010520/ai_n13904285

I can't find anything on how the case was finally decided in the courts though.

There are some other funny questions, like "Will the rapist be attached or stuck to the woman?"

If you've lived in a country where dogs are not regularly spayed and neutered, the question seems quite reasonable. Dogs don't detach immediately post-coitus, and you often see them awkwardly hopping down the street.

From what I remember from the first reports on this was that South African feminists considered this device (or one similar) to be an extremly bad idea exactly because it would boost the likelyhood of the rapist killing his victim. Also, once it was known to be in use, rapists would simply check first and penetrate after. Iirc the criticism was especially at the typical (i.e. extra violent) rape situation in South Africa. Unlike in other "civilized" countries the trigger to kill the victim in case of resistance is very loose, so anything likely to enrage the rapist is also likely to kill the victim as a result. Even in countries where the victim is more likely to be beaten up than killed the police recommends "don't resist if you can't escape".
From what I remember there have been earlier attempts on such devices (including spring-loaded ones) that would not just hurt but emasculate.
I guess chastity belts would be less dangerous* (but still not a good idea).

*In combination with tshirts announcing the fact: If you can't penetrate steel, trying to rape me could be difficult.

Hartmut: the earlier attempt you're thinking of is this. Like the current story, it was a thing that got a lot of talk (mostly from reporters picking a few people and asking them for opinions about it) and never got anywhere near being produced. And like the current story, the inventor had some odd ideas about human behavior and physiology - e.g., he thought the presence of all that blood wasn't such a big deal, because the woman would be less vulnerable to infection, because she wouldn't have tissue damage, because if she had this device she "wouldn't resist". (Also, he never explained how a single forward-facing blade was supposed to chop anything "off".)

This reminds me of a science fiction short story I read about a specially trained group of commandoes, all women, who were fitted with a mechanical buzz-saw like device, emplaced in whorehouses in North Viet Nam, and then, well, went AWOL after they realized that--gee whillikers--American men committed rape too.

Interesting how sci fi can precede technological invention.

But I agree, doesn't seem terribly practical. Unless the man's got his dong actually severed (and therefore likely to bleed to death in short order), simply puncturing him ain't gonna do much for the woman's health. Of course, it's always seemed to me that rapists aren't too careful about their health anyway (doesn't South Africa have a fairly high HIV rate?), so the likelihood of rapist blood causing infection in the rape victim seems pretty high to me.

Well check out this thing as well. They even have promotional videos...
http://www.femdefence.info/index2.html

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