People might think that the world has gotten less assault-y with the rise of the #MeToo era, and perhaps, on a large scale, that’s true.
In the day-to-day trenches, women still deal with micro-aggressions like being catcalled and denigrated for how they look, while also suffering larger transgressions like being stalked, touched without consent, and discriminated against due to their gender.
It is still also way too common for the men in our lives to assume that women either exaggerate the frequency or seriousness of these events, or that women are altogether making things up, because it just can’t be as common as females try to pretend.
Well, Ohio advertising agency Ogilvy decided to see whether men would be more inclined to believe so-called “smart clothing” than real women, so they started Dress for Respect in partnership with (weirdly) Schweppes.
Under the project’s aegis, they created a dress that uses heat and pressure sensors to record a heat map, location, and time of contacts.
Three women wore the dresses to a party in Brazil, and by the end of the night, the sensors had logged 157 non-consensual touches in under four hours – more than one every five minutes per woman. The accompanying video provided proof that all of the women repeatedly asked the men touching them to stop.
Lighter, cheaper, and more powerful batteries are inspiring all kinds of interesting ideas for smart clothing. Things like shoe insoles that generate energy and suits that double as air purifiers, along with many products meant to mitigate some of the challenges disabled people face day-to-day.
These dresses go a step further, to the root of a major social problem, addressing illegal behaviors at the source.
Costs still make mass production unlikely, but the Dress for Respect idea is showing that you don’t need to mass market a product in order for it to make a positive impact on the world.
The people behind the concept and the marketing video hope that it will change people’s minds – that those who are disinclined to believe real women might believe their clothing, and in the end, make it to the same conclusion.
The concept of consent is still hard for way too many men to grasp, so we need to teach it young, teach it often, and really make sure the men and boys in our lives understand what it means when a female says no.