Trigger Warnings: Discussions of slut-shaming and rape culture.
As a sexy single trying to navigate your way through the uni bar scene, how often do you find yourself thinking, “Wow, I wish that I had a bra that could tell me who I want to sleep with”? Probably never, because no one ever thinks that, or so I thought. But as the world works in odd and confusing ways, a Japanese company called Ravijou has created a bra that will only undo when the wearer feels true love, thus filling a non-existent gap in the singles market.
If you’re anything like me, you will have felt some skepticism about the mechanics of such a concept. How could it know who you want to sleep with? Why would you need your bra to tell you anyway? Well, according to Ravijou’s (deeply problematic, but we’ll get to that later) advertisement, in the left cup of the bra is a heart rate monitor, which measures one’s pulse and “other vitals”, before submitting the data via Bluetooth to their phone. An app then does some love-based number crunching and if the recorded heart rate matches the pre-set ‘love rhythm’, the bra opens. Yep, there’s an app for that.
My first thought, however, was all the other times my heart rate elevates throughout the day and how I want my boobs to stay well harnessed when I’m running to catch my train. But Ravijou has apparently thought of this issue and solved it with science stuff. As understood by an arts student, this bra won’t open through heart rate elevation through exercise or almost being hit by a bus or whatever because there’s a specific hormone that gets released only when you feel all gooey inside, which creates a specific heart rate signal. A love signal, if you will. And it is this signal, and this signal only which that can open the bra. Also, when I use the word ‘open’ I use it for it’s most explosive meaning, because when the whole love pattern – activate breast exposure process happens – the bra doesn’t just unlock, it bursts open in a big way. Seriously, it burst off the mannequin on which it was being demonstrated which is hilarious, but doesn’t by any means negate how problematic this whole thing is.
First off, from a purely practically point of view, there is the slight problem that is claims to know when you are in true love. I can’t be the only one who has felt the rush of love and had the transpiring relationship be less than perfect. If this Bra actually can tell you when you’ve found the real deal, then it has to be both sentient and psychic, in which case they are really not going in the right direction with their marketing campaign. But let’s look past this. Say this bra works flawlessly and I go out to a bar wearing this (admittedly quite pretty) contraption, and start talking to a guy who gets my heart racing. The bra does it party trick and since it’s pretty hard to stay aloof after your bra has exploded under your shirt, the night doesn’t go to plan and I head home alone. Furthermore, how do I take it off when I want to wriggle out of my dress, put on an oversized tee-shirt and go to sleep in a pose that takes up three quarters of the space in my bed? Is there some sort of emergency/ fallback button that will allow me to open it of my own accord? And does that mean that if I do happen to find a guy at this bar who probably won’t meet me at the altar, but is definitely cute enough to bring back to my boudoir can I just use the button rending the bra sort of useless?
Which all brings me to my really big issues with this bra: it works under the very false assumption that women (which is the target audience for this thing) have to be told what they want; that their sexuality should be policed. This isn’t a new idea by any means, but that’s sort of the point: it still exists, it’s still pervasive and now were trying to enforce it with smartphone technology. The first thought I had when I saw this was, “what if she wants to have sex with someone she isn’t in love with?” which lead me to realize how slut-shame-y this concept is. No matter how sexually aroused a woman is and how much she just wants to sex for sex’s sake, she has a chastity belt around her boobs reminding her that that’s not what she’s supposed to do.
But the biggest issue is how Ravijou has chosen to advertise. The video shows dodgy looking men making clearly unwanted advances on women in a bar while a voice over introduces the bra saying it’s time to “save women from these guys” with their “revolutionary bra”. Choosing to advertise it as such instead of a gimmick or romantic gift makes the bra and the discourse around it a contributor to rape culture. Like the anti-rape-ware that’s come before, it doesn’t work and only perpetuates the too commonly held idea that if a women is sexually assaulted or worse it was “sort of her fault because she was or wasn’t blank.” No matter what that blank is, that sentence will never be true. But through making an ad where a woman should assure her safety by wearing a bra, also asserts that anything that happens to her if she isn’t is partially her fault, which is never ok.
And that’s my biggest issue with this bra. It looks funny and ridiculous, but when you look at it closely it plays to the old myths around women and really does far more to hinder them than help. How do I feel about Ravijou’s new engineering ‘marvel’? t’s a gimmicky and ridiculous and, well, just bad. Melissa Barnes put it perfectly when she says it’s “another example of why we truly need more women engineers in the industry”. When a product that claims to know how “women truly feel” is designed by two men, you can tell it’s not a ‘by women, for women’ sort of situation. But beyond that it shows that the claim women still don’t know how to conduct themselves and it’s their job to stop the violence towards them is still alive and well. So no matter how appealing a Mr. Right finder may be, I’d rather stick to my hormones and judgment and decide who I would like to bed all by my self.
Image via wikipedia