A Hairy Situation
First, I have to confess that while doing my translation work I went on iwastesomuchtime.com to procrastinate and add humor to my life, and it has proved worthy. Here's why. One recent post is that of an unknown pair of human legs supposedly wearing a pair of "anti-pervert" hairy leggings. Here it is, be warned (even though there should be no cause for alarm, but I know some of you will find hair disgusting, so whatever)
Various sources of sensational journalism has titled it the latest trend in China. This annoys me because it's not a trend, because if it was, the ever so fashionable people of Shanghai would be all up in it, and they're not. The real story is that one Chinese microblogger (on the Chinese version of Twitter) posted this picture and captioned it, "Super sexy, summertime anti-pervert full-leg-of-hair stockings, essential for all young girls going out." As a joke. But of course, everyone freaks out because of course! That must mean that a nation of 1+ billion half the world away is so weird that they would make and sell stockings imitating human leg hair! Come on, really?
But I digress. There really are many ways that people have tried to fend off unwanted attention and assault. This article talked about a couple of recent technological innovations and legislation. Of course, the solution to men's hormones must be to curb women, because it is as simple as high levels of hormones that needs to be lowered with less stimulation. Or how about the electric shock underwear? Upon some further investigation, it seems that three students - two females and one male, collaborated to make this prototype. Not to put engineering down, I think it is amazing work that I would not be able to do, but so they added self-defense mechanisms to a pair of woman's underwear - and then what? Should the women wearing it wait 'til they're groped there to identify perpetrators? If I wore a pair of these, I would just be terrified of when it happens and it sends an electric shock to the perpetrator - what if it shocks me too? At this point he would have already groped me , although it may have successfully deterred a further crime. Is this the best that we can do?
I guess what I really mean to say is that maybe the best engineering or technology is not the answer to rape culture, and maybe not to other situations as well. Students at Rice who do the global health technology minor and engineering students work on projects where they invent something cost-effective to solve some real world problems. It's a great way to encourage innovation and team work and making a difference in the world. So you made a baby sling with a few extra wires that will magically lighten the mother's burden or alert her if something goes wrong. Not to say that we don't like things that help us make life easier, but how do you foresee the target demographic using this new technology? The problem isn't that your product doesn't work, but maybe it's solving a problem that is indicative of larger problems? Larger problems that will only create more problems once you've solved one? How will it make people feel to have the luxury to use some fancy new technology, but they're still stuck in chronic poverty? I pose these all as questions because I don't know what it's like, but I would hate to assume.