Ms. Tsukioka, a 29-year-old experimental fashion designer, lifted a flap on her skirt to reveal a large sheet of cloth printed in bright red with a soft drink logo partly visible. By holding the sheet open and stepping to the side of the road, she showed how a woman walking alone could elude pursuers — by disguising herself as a vending machine.
The wearer hides behind the sheet, printed with an actual-size photo of a vending machine. Ms. Tsukioka’s clothing is still in development, but she already has several versions, including one that unfolds from a kimono and a deluxe model with four sides for more complete camouflaging.
It's hard to imagine this particular solution being proposed in the United States, but this is one place where I think the narrative of Japanese oddness can do some good. Dressing up as a vending machine seems silly to American eyes, and hopefully it can demonstrate by analogy the silliness of our own expectations of what women can and should do to avoid rape and assault.
At BoingBoing, Doctorow notes that the design of this vending machine plays into a Japanese cultural myth that crime rates are increasing, when in fact "Japanese crime levels are in decline" -- another point of similarity between Japanese and American hysteria about rape and assault.
(Hat tip: draegonhawke)