Apr 17 2005

I Wasn’t Expecting The Swedish Prohibition


FemDefense: iPod accessory or rude awakening?

Sweden! When a people has already given to civilization of its utmost, viz. depressing cinema, impossible standards of human physical perfection, ABBA, and the Tempur-Pedic bed, one can but express a sort of reverent incredulity when yet another magma-glob of human accomplishment erupts from its permafrost.

I allude to FemDefence.

I am absolutely enchanted by this thing, which I discovered while reading Feministing, which, if you don’t read it, you should, if you want to see some smart gals fucking slice and dice the “chicks can’t blog” myth. There is no outrageous instance of contemporary misogyny on which they don’t have an intelligent opinion.

Anyway, I’m not entirely certain that I have all the FemDefence facts entirely correct, since the English version of the website under discussion is a somewhat ticklish translation from the original Swedish, but here’s my crack at it:

The whimiscal object pictured above is part of what Swedish artist/videographer Leif Lindell calls the FemDefence Project, a conceptual anti-rape “product” in the shape of a vaginal insert with a sharp metal spike sticking out of the business end. The project also includes a marketing campaign, complete with bus stop ads and TV commercials (which you can watch on the website; they are magnificent and creepy as hell).

In other words, it’s an art thing, you know, meant to provoke discussion.

From a purely mechanical standpoint, I can only speculate as to whether a vaginal stiletto would work in real life. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that it would.

I can only imagine the deafening roar of objection were some such little gem actually to be made available. Men would hate it because it would suddenly terminate free access (“What if she forgets to take it out?”). And the women who suffer from Stockholm Syndrome and date the women-hating men who hate it would also hate it. And there would be this whole “it’s so unnatural” thing, and this whole “it’s so violent!” thing. And probably whole other things that are so crackpot even I can’t envision’em. I submit, however, that all the various species of reprehension would stem from the same tired old seed of misogyny, the one that puts men in charge of women’s bodies world-wide.

Patriarchy needs to keep women rape-able. Because if women were unrape-able, just think of the liberation! What power we could reclaim! We would have soveriegnty over our own vaginas for the first time in history! And once that happened, who knows? Maybe we’d also get to own the rest of our bodies. Maybe car salesmen would stop treating us like retards. Maybe we’d crawl out of poverty. Maybe women’s jackets would come with inside pockets.

Of course, the real efficacy of something like a FemDefense would be in its philosophical similarity to the Doomsday Device in Dr. Strangelove. By which I mean, if it were widely publicized that women are now spike-equipped, the mere idea of the bloody penile puncture wound alone would function as a deterrent. Would-be penetrators would have no way of knowing whether or not their icky tumescence would be met with The Prong of Death.

I’d recommend the FemDefense Deluxe model with the poison tip!


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  1. the col

    Maybe IKEA will carry it. (some assembly required)

  2. Cunning Allusionment?

    In the Neil Stephenson book “Snowcrash” the female protagonist had something like this that injected elephant tranquilizer into the assailant rendering him unconscious for more than enough time to beat the shit out of him, and then maybe call the cops.

    As long as they didn’t hurt the women wearing them when they ran, jumped, squatted, or upon insertion/removal, etc. I think these would be big sellers on all sides of the patriarchal fence. “Dads, protect your little girls’ innocence with the Anti-Prick!” for example. Though more patriarchal involvement in young women’s vaginae isn’t exactly desirable.

    Another concern about its effectiveness, is wouldn’t rapists just learn to check for a string, and then horribly tear it out and then turn it around? There would have to be some reliable way to keep its presence very well concealed without the cooperation of the woman.

  3. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    I want one a these! An invisible one.

  4. RadFemHedonist

    I dunno whether these are a good idea, there’s a risk of self injury. If I knew they were safe, I’d wear one, but I really think they could hurt you, also I agree that it might be removed and used against the person who was wearing it, I don’t know how you’d get round that. Wasn’t there something about a vest with electric shocks in it someplace? If only that tampon didn’t have the potential problems I mentioned, I’d be jumping for joy.

  5. Kali

    What about this:


    The one with a tranquilizer is here:

  6. Kali

    My dream is that women would one day invent a retro-virus that spreads through the entire population and genetically engineers men to burst out in boils at the very thought of rape.

  7. justicewalks

    This is just like that Rape-Ex device that woman in South Africa invented that will never, under any circumstances, be marketed here in the US. I wonder if they ever even got it on shelves in South Africa.

  8. justicewalks

    Here is a picture of the rapex. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-09/02/xin_44090202064954718241.jpg

    Here’s a depressing article about it:


  9. Matt Ruff

    The South Africans have a real version of this.

  10. justicewalks

    I just tried to post some links to a picture and article of the rapex device, which is like a female condom with little barb-like hooks on the inside. It would attach itself painfully to the man’s penis upon intrusion, and would require removal in a medical facility. I was snagged by the spamulator by the links, though. I’ll try just one. Here’s the article:


  11. justicewalks

    I hope this takes this time. Here is a rather depressing article about the South Africa rapex device.

  12. justicewalks

    Here is the google cache of the article, since something seems to be wrong with the BBC page now.

  13. Twisty

    Yo, yall, this thing is a conceptual art piece. It isn’t really real.

  14. justicewalks

    But, Twisty, the South African one really is real. And there really was an outcry from horrified men. They even suggested that the woman who invented it must be psychologically damaged to ever have thought such a thing up.

  15. Twisty

    Oh yeah, I remember this thing now. I vaguely remember writing something about it, although it may have been on someone else’s blog. I just couldn’t believe the rapist empathy at the time. I know better now.

  16. Lexia

    [Love that title, by thw way]

    The device does make sense, especially in South Africa. The urban centers of South Africa have an extremely high rape rate, that neither the government nor the press feels compelled to address. Deputy President Joseph Zuma was allowed to walk after all the evidence from non-mainstreams sources showed he was guilty of raping a woman guest at his house. A sickening example of “progressive” American media and South African government complicity in rape is here:

    South Africa’s constitution is a shining jewel of inclusion that explicitly protects women and homosexual citizens and citizens of any race, as well as the expected and natural provisions giving the majority its due power. But a woman still cannot defend herself, there or here in the U.S., without facing the “impersonal” absolutely effective opposition of male-backed law. In other words, the law will defend him but not you, and if you fight back, the law will punish you to its fullest extent.

    The situation with rape makes me despair of any law having any more meaning than pretty words compelling obedience by the brute violence of whoever is in power.

  17. RadFemHedonist

    “This is a medieval instrument, based on male-hating notions and fundamentally misunderstands the nature of rape and violence against women in this society,” said Charlene Smith, one of South Africa’s most prominent campaigners against rape.

    With friends like these…

    How is it vengeful? Apparently those people who fight back the people who attack them are vengeful now? This thing is for self defence. I’m not trying to enact revenge on rapists (they should all be in jail for life, no torture, no castration other than in the chemical sense of hormone reduction though drugs, no body part removal), I am trying to get them the fuck away from me.

  18. lotltotl

    “Maybe women’s jackets would come with inside pockets.”

    OH MY GOD I WANT SOME POCKETS SO BAD!!! Where do I sign up?!?

    Anti-rape devices intrigue me. However, I learned in self-defense training that it is unwise to rely on any device or object for protection anyway (pepper spray was the topic there) because it can be taken away from you and used against you.

    I took a rape and aggression defense techniques class in college. It was awesome. They teach you to inflict maximum damage with minimum force, escape various holds, throw off somebody when pinned on your back, etc.

    Maybe “violence is not the answer types” disagree, but as a young woman living alone in a big city who grew up steeped in “men are bigger and stronger than you so beware” culture, I found it very empowering.

    The final session involved the cop who taught the course donning full body pads and grabbing you in a dark room. Your objective? Beat the shit out of him and run away. Which I totally did. Maybe it’s just counterproductive to us all getting along as people, but like I said, as someone raised to fear strange men with bad intentions, it was liberating to realize someone as un-physically fit as myself could take down a cop twice my size who was wearing body protection.

    But techniques are obviously no use against a dude with a gun.

    Which brings me back to vagina spikes. If a guy with a gun goes to rape you and gets stabbed in the penis, is he going to run away crying, or shoot you in the head? It’s a personal choice at that point I guess…

    I’m just noodling. I… don’t have a point here really. Except that rape sucks. Obviously.

  19. XY Feminist

    I’ll second the rape and aggression defense techniques! My S.O. took one awhile back, and she can punch like a jackhammer now.

    The rape and aggression defense techniques classes are infinitely better than the so-called “women’s self defense” courses that I’ve seen peddled annually at your typical run-of-the-mill martial arts studio.

    I’ve practiced martial arts for over a decade, and many of the dudely martial arts instructors and masters that I’ve run into over the years are not comfortable with the idea of women learning how to fight well. Most of them segregate their female students away from the male students, then proceed to never teach the female students how to get stronger. The worst ones would pair female students against the largest or most violent male students they had, and then look the other way, in the hopes that the women would get roughed-up enough to quit.

    If the instructor of your “women’s self defense” seminar has no female black belts, has trained no female instructors, and has relegated all other women to his cardio-kickboxing program. Demand a refund immediately.

  20. XY Feminist

    Unfortunately, FemDefense and Rapex were about as popular to DudeNation as actually functional women’s self defense. Their websites are now down.

    The only equivalent site I was able to find was Rape-aXe. Which also is not a fully developed product: http://www.antirape.co.za

    If we had an actual capitalist economy that wasn’t buried in cronyism, monopolies, K-street, and patriarchy, these things would be in Wall-Mart by now.

  21. Cyberwulf

    If we had a society that gave even one hot shit about women’s safety, it would be socially acceptable for a woman to kick, punch, or otherwise respond violently the instant a man groped her or even sexually threatened her. And instead of the woman being charged with assault, everyone would say “well he must’ve done something to deserve it, because women don’t hit men for no reason”.

    My jujutsu instructor taught me a great technique for slamming a man’s head into the bar if he’s hanging on me with his arm around my shoulders, and cut off a male student who protested with “Nobody has the right to touch you without permission.” But I have zero doubt that if I ended up in that situation and executed that move, I’d be the one going to jail.

  22. pheenobarbidoll

    Femdefense: If your skirt says yes, femdefense says NO.

  1. Marriott proposes girl ghetto at I Blame The Patriarchy

    […] But the more I thought about it, the more my inner dyke separatist liked it. Unless one of these comes with the room, I can’t imagine that it will actually make women ’safer’ in any appreciable sense, but there are precious few dude-free zones in the world, and that alone is reason enough to give it the thumbs up. If there were a women-only lounge in South Austin I’d be there so often they’d name a booth, a martini, and their firstborn spawn after me. […]

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