Rape has been violating women (and occasionally men) since the dawn of humanity. Even before that, evolutionarily. Our Great Ape relations – chimpanzees and gorillas - are rapists, and approximately 33%-50% of orangutans are the result of rape. Gang rape, war rape, prison rape, date rape, serial rape, spousal rape, incestuous rape… hundreds of millions of people have been terrified, humiliated, injured and scarred. Rape has to be halted, but how?
Is there a transhumanist remedy? A technological solution? Currently there are rape-preventative items available, but IEET contributors Khannea Suntzu, Giulio Prisco, Joern Pallensen, P. Tittle, Gabriel Rothblatt, Alex McGilvery, David Brin, David Pearce, Dick Pelletier, and Dorothy Deasy have futuristic ideas that are far superior.
The “Rape Capital of the World” is currently South Africa, with a University of South Africa study estimating 2,777 rapes per day, for a total of 1 million a year. The South African Law Commission asserts the figure is considerably higher: 1.69 million per year.
Journalist, rape survivor, and anti-rape activist Charlene Smith claims that a South African woman is raped every 26 seconds; 40% of the victims are children, and 65% are gang-raped, aka “jackrolled.” Human Rights Watch reports that 28% of South African males has admitted to sexual assault, in this nation where 16.9% of the adult population is HIV/AIDS infected.
To combat this atrocity, the citizenry invented two retaliatory devices. A “killer tampon”, developed by 72-year-old Jaap Haumann in 2000, sports a guillotine blade attached to a hollow cylinder that, if sprung, decapitates any intruding penile head. Haumann estimated that 1 million women would arm their crotches with his contraption, but he was ridiculed in the media and sales never materialized.
“Rape-aXe” was next. Unveiled in 2005 by medical technician Dr. Sonnet Ehlers, this simple latex sheath transforms the female orifice into a shark-like vagina dentata. 25 razor sharp barbs, facing inward, serve as a “rape trap” that painfully hooks the penetrator. The snared assailant, claims Dr. Ehlers, “cannot pee or walk when it is on, and if he tries to remove it, it will clasp even tighter.” The vengeful fangs can only be removed surgically, a procedure that would alert police and imprison the rapist.
The munching mechanism costs only 1 rand (14 cents) and its potential was carefully researched – Dr. Ehlers consulted engineers, gynecologists, psychologists, and convicted rapists to determine its effectiveness. She sold her car and house to mass-produce the penis-chewing device and she reportedly distributed 30,000, for free, at the 2010 World Cup venues. Despite her efforts, South African women aren’t all chomping at the bit to purchase her product. Instead – like Haumann – Dr. Ehlers was chewed up by pundits, especially women.
Charlene Smith fretted that Rape-aXe, “is vengeful, horrible, and disgusting. The woman who invented this needs help.” Another critic – a rape victim who was stabbed twice – insisted that Rape-aXe, “will increase the danger to women… the government must not allow this to go on sale.” I contacted Dr. Ehlers last year to inquire about her sales volume, but I never received a response.
Dr. Ehlers presents, in my opinion, solid justification for her penis-ripper. “It will help identify attackers and secure conviction,” she tells the Johannesburg Star. “A medieval deed deserves a medieval consequence,” she explains on her website, that lists numerous letters of support and endorsement. Unfortunately, the product’s primary weakness is that it only provides past-the-threshold protection. The assailant is incapacitated only after a woman has been:
2. Physically Assaulted (rape victims are often beaten)
3. Stripped of her Clothes
The security that Rape-aXe provides is similar to shooting intruders in your home. Isn’t it far better to deny them interior access? Anyone with morbid imagination can visualize numerous situations in which Rape-aXe’s “security” backfires, due to the equation of “violence begetting more violence.” The same flaw exists in Haumans’s penectomy tool, and in “FemDefense”,” a similar, Swedish design that features a sharp pin sticking out of a tube, waiting to puncture the glans.
It is interesting to note how defense against rape – or any physical assault – mimics strategies in animal behavior. The 15th century chastity belt resembles the hard-bodied protection of the armadillo, pangolin, snail, turtle, and mollusks like oyster and clam. The advice to “never walk alone” has been obeyed for epochs by ungulate herds. Pepper spray and mace owe a debt to skunks and the bombardier beetle (stink bug), as does the – “Horberg Device” - an appliance the Rape-aXe website refers to, that expels a “crude odor.” Tasers, now available to resemble cell phones, impersonate the cruel jolt of a scorpion or wasp. FemDefense, Rape-aXe, and the Haumann device are sharply linked to porcupines and sea urchins.
There’s even a modern equivalent to the “invisibility” defense employed by squid and octopi that expel ink, and insects and reptiles that utilize camouflage. Michelle Leslie, a 25-yer-old Australian model, was convicted of drug possession in Indonesia (two ecstasy tablets) and tossed into a prison for three months. After observing that another woman was regularly taken out of her cell for forced sex with the guards, Ms. Leslie donned the shroud-like Muslim burqa, and was summarily ignored.
Transhumanists need to devise self-defense mechanisms that transcend these techniques employed by lower life forms, and scifi offers some options. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson, presents a vagina dentata that narcotizes trespassers with a tiny hypodermic needle. If women installed this, the dismantling of it could be regarded as part of the foreplay process, like removing the last item of clothing. Female groins could also be implanted with micro-spray guns that have incapacitating fumes, similar to the gas Russians used to overpower Chechen militants in the 2002 Moscow theater-hostage crises. These solutions, however, are only slightly better than Rape-aXe, because the weaponry would inspire counter-weaponry.
Star Trek and Superman offer stronger resistance possibilities. If the “deflector shield” that protected the Starship Enterprise is scaled down for the human form, a bubble of security would be attained. The “Man of Steel” is equally invulnerable with his dense Kryptonian body and “force field” surrounding his flesh. Neither of these improvements is forecast for the near future, however.
What we can employ for safety, immediately or in the next decade, are the two strategies below:
1. Security “Smart” Cameras – Already universally employed in airports, these devices could be installed, unobtrusively, in numerous public areas. Capable of analyzing what they observe, they set off alarms if they witness behavior that is programmed as “unsafe.” The cameras would be major crime deterrents because they’d be recording culprits engaged in criminal acts. Smart cameras could also be installed indoors in private-owned buildings where sexual assault was a concern: fraternities, for instance. Micro-sensors (additionally equipped with auditory and olfactory abilities) could also be installed on anyone’s body, to record hostile behavior directed at them. The bionic eyeball “eyebrow”, utilized by the Terminator and Canadian filmmaker Rob Spence, could serve as a safety enhancing “third eye.”
2. GPS microchips – Valued pets already have RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification Chips) imbedded discreetly in their bodies, with 16-digit identification numbers. These grain-sized devices will soon be GPS-enabled. If every human gets microchipped with their pathways charted, all assaulters would be easily apprehended because their trail would intersect with the victim. The result would be a 100% arrest and conviction rate! A milder strategy would be to only “tag” convicted criminals, and to forbid them to approach anyone in isolated areas.
Obviously, employment of these options would result in drastically diminished privacy. “Big Brother” organizations would be able to track their opponents, and clandestine rendezvous, sexual or otherwise, would no longer be secret. But still… how much privacy are “good guys” willing to sacrifice, to rein in the “bad guys”? I’m not endorsing either of these two options, but I believe they both merit consideration.
Seeking additional suggestions, I contacted numerous IEET contributors, and received a slew of magnificently creative ideas. I predict that many of the ideas listed below will be ordinarily available in our lifetime:
David Brin In [my upcoming novel] EXISTENCE I extrapolate a world only hinted at by Google Goggles, when the corner of your glasses will record and send to the cloud whatever you see and hear. And provide info on everybody you meet. Under those conditions, it [rape] will be a rare, rare thing.
Alex McGilvery: Since we are talking future tech here the question of consent could be dealt with by interface of his and her computer. You could even have a subroutine that shuts down the libido if consent is not granted. Of course the reality is that most sex crime is not about sex, but about power. Rape is about taking power away from the woman, so something that gives them power back would be ideal. The problem with the vagina dentata is that by the time it comes into play the de-powering of the woman is mostly complete.
This is where having a subroutine placed in one’s computer would be an automatic response to a first offence, given that sexual offenders have the highest rate of recidivism.
Joern Pallensen: New smart-phones could have a “button” by which you could easily activate camera/or microphone, and the phone would send directly to a (secret) number of your choice, and the rapist would know he’d been either photographed or sound-recorded. General idea is to automatically gather any kind of and as much information about the rapist as possible, and have it sent directly to a secret recipient.
Joern Pallensen’s wife: Men with uncontrollable and socially unacceptable lusts should be treated with pills.
Khannea Suntzu: When going outside in risk-laden environments:
“The Eye of Khannea” - Wear 2 or more micro-cameras on your person, as a collaborative insurance system. Not everyone wears the cameras, but a number of people wear a sign or distinctive and visible piece of jewelry that *might* contain the camera. The actual camera shoots a HR screenshot every several seconds and instantly uploads the shot with a geotag by 3G or 4G connectivity. The shots are saved publicly, or anonymous (settings) for a given number of days. If the device goes offline when damaged it signals an alarm. If it depicts public data any protege of the service spotting the pics can signal an alarm. At the very least people wearing the distinctive “this might be a camera” markers will signal potential rapists. They may or may not be screengrabbed if they attack the protege.
“Khani Strap Panties” - Chastity Panties - a set of panties that can’t come off for several minutes, with a timelock with a delay of 180+ seconds. They are belted and secure and on the side is a lock that opens in a set amount of time. When they open, the location, time and geotag is transmitted. When opened with force they might be set to release a gruesome stench, a cloud of paint, an unbearably loud noise, and a 911 warning signal. This opening delay introduces a waiting period to get vaginal or anal access of several minutes - tricky when you have to pee in a hurry, and it does not totally impaired premeditated kidnapping, but at least when opened (or the victim falls of the grid) it transmits last known time and position. This last device can be linked to a biorhythm scanner, which transmits agitation, anxiety, physical exertion, pain to the ‘several minute’ update signal.
“SunTzu Retalliation Contract” - Protege wears a distinctive piece of jewelry or recognizable icon that only can be purchased from a site for a fairly high price. The price is indicative of a contract the victim is not engaged in. Just buying, registering name, address and background closes an implicit vengeance contract. If the protege is raped, the organization will select a set number of rape case every month, and will transact a set of random cases out to an anonymously-paid vigilante killer. There are several warning jewels available - blue (100$) means the organization will hire a quality private investigator and do whatever it can to find the rapist. An green (250$) contract implies the organization will do the same and counter-rape the rapist and inflict a severe beating. A red (500$) jewel implies the organization will do whatever it can to find the rapist, and apply chainsaws or soldering irons or battery acid (protege can make a selection when acquiring the jewel) until death occurs in the rapist. Clearly this creates an interesting dilemma for law enforcement (is buying such a red jewel an act that is in itself a criminal act?) but who cares? Note that the victim of a rape who wears such a jewel can NOT cancel such a contract - once bought and consecutively raped, the organization will randomly target rapists it can find and give them the justice contracted for. This would be a fairly powerful deterrent, especially after the first rapist is found dangling with amputated limbs from the gates of a local police station. The jewel contains a feature button that when pressed explains the parameters of the contract in a monotone voice to any rapists who didn’t get the memo yet.
Gabriel Rothblatt: I consulted these sources for guidance: they are good reads particularly the motivations and avoidances listed in the first source:
“The Night Before Pill” counteracts effects of barbiturates/ date rape drugs
“The Matchmaker” is an inhaler that temporarily counteracts the effects of alcohol allowing for clarity in decisions, but not ruining your investment in the evening.
“The Matchmaker V2.0” dissolves the equivalent of 1.0 % BAC (Warning may cause food cravings, do not use if diabetic)
“iScream” A voice activated distress beacon that with the screech of a code releases a pheromone causing a euphoric confidence in men that
allows the victim an opportunity for escape.
“iScream V2.0” In addition to the original specifications it also has a thought activated distress beacon, that arms a gps and/or cognitive link that streams the location/ status of the victim and a voice augmenter that allows for a higher frequency and duration cry for help.
“Mental Detectors” brain scanners embedded in door frames at clubs/bars that alarm when patterns associated with predatory behaviors are detected.
“Saltpeter Cookies”- does not allow males to become erect within proximity to a woman who is not “turned on.” Women’s cookies turn on when aroused or by thought code, to prevent drugging. Like pre nuptuals agreements at marriage a woman may or may not decide to open her cookies to her husband permanently. (When a couple is married her cookies could be unlocked solely to her mates, I can see a thriller here about the future where a serial rapist/killer targets married women by making the husband watch while restrained the kills the wife afterwards)
David Pearce: Two thoughts, one “safe”, the other controversial. - and also a long term suggestion.
The safe thought is the promotion of wider availability of SSRIs for sexual offenders and potential offenders. Although SSRIs struggle to achieve statistical significance as antidepressants, SSRIs are extremely effective at dampening libido. Many men struggle with violent and socially unacceptable lusts, but only a small minority are sexual sociopaths who don’t want to change.
The other, controversial, idea is future use of sexbots and immersive VR for the fulfillment of socially unacceptable sexual desires. _If_ - and it’s a critical if - scientific evidence suggests their use is likely to lead to a decline of crimes against women (and minors), then other things being equal, perhaps such technologies and software should be supported? No, I’m not advocating their development and commercialisation, simply that the question be studied.
However…. In the long run, perhaps we may hope hope that the “love maps” of very young children can be channelled in a socially acceptable direction from an early age. It’s not someone fault if they happen to be turned on by e.g. violent sexual fantasies and/or children, etc, any more than they can be blamed for sneezing. But of course it’s profoundly damaging to their victims if these socially unacceptable desires are acted on, and also profoundly damaging for the rapist/child abuser himself when caught.
Of course, genetically tweaking / channelling children’s sexual orientation sounds horrendously Orwellian. Clearly there is immense scope for abuse. But the alternative is continuing today’s genetic roulette - with all the horrors it entails. I don’t agree that “all men are rapists”. But a conditionally activated predisposition to rape women can be genetically adaptive: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=150003§ioncode=26 I think we need to tackle its biological roots.
Giulio Prisco: A good idea would be to make women as physically strong as men (we will be able to do this in a couple of decades), or offer free training in self-defense and martial arts to women (we can do this now).
I am in favor of fighting rape with any reasonable means, but not with means that endanger innocents. The vagina dentata scenario would prevent some rapes, but cut many more innocent dicks due to carelessness. And I believe having the dick cut off by an idiot who forgets to switch off her vagina dentata is much worse than getting raped.
Dick Pelletier: DARPA scientists dream that one day their nanodust research efforts may result in the ability to launch nanodust particles that would seep through the skin into an adversary’s brain causing thought changes. People attempting harmful events would be unable to activate them.
Some believe this technology will evolve into a self-protection system allowing people facing danger to launch and direct nanoparticles at an attacker. Rape victims would change the aggressive thoughts in a rapist’s mind – no harm, no foul.
P. Tittle: Testosterone inhibitors / an antidote to the testosterone poisoning that seems to affect so many males we think it’s the ‘normal’ condition - so that the norm for men is not always-being-on-the-cusp-of-arousal/violence, so they have to take something in order to want sex and/or violence (and after the first rape, make it permanent - deny them the reversing injection)
Or, a small tranquilizer gun, issued free to all girls - something that puts the guy out long enough for her to get away and send the police to his location. It has to induce memory loss as well so the guy doesn’t remember who the woman was - so no retaliation fear!!
Dorothy Deasy: Souvielance (streaming recording technologies) may be able to be used as a deterrent. If a perpetrator can not be sure whether or not he (or she) is being filmed in the act, then the cost of committing the crime increases.
Related would be an easily accessible “panic button” that could alert police and social networks when a person is in trouble. It could lead to faster intervention and also document the crime if help does not arrive in time. Also, self-defense technologies such as jewelry that could be used as a taser or clothing that can not be easily forcibly removed.
Dear Readers - if you have ideas that aren’t expressed in the suggestions above, please enclose them in the Comment section below.
Hank Pellissier serves as IEET Interim Managing Director and Fundraiser. He was IEET’s Managing Director on January-October in 2012, and is an IEET Affiliate Scholar.
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