Anti-rape nail polish shouldn’t promote female blame
Rose petal pink or anti-rape red? Picking a color for my new manicure has never been so easy, thanks to four students at North Carolina State University who invented a nail polish that claims to be able to detect the common date rape drug GHB by turning a different color. Although the Washington Post has found research undermining the reliability of the product, the introduction of the product has sparked heated controversy. Critics claim that “Undercover Colors” and other products that help women detect date rape drugs are putting the blame of sexual assault on women by making it their responsibility to check their drinks for date rape drugs. They say that promoting these products is akin to telling women to avoid dressing provocatively and instead, society should focus on eliminating the rapists instead of anticipating their next move. This is a completely backward and insensitive statement. Admitting we are vulnerable to attack is not admitting defeat — it is the strength that keeps us going in an ongoing battle. Children are told day in and day out that they should not get in a car with a stranger, help find a stranger’s dog or take their candy, yet adult women should not have to be accountable for their own safety? Believing we can show all rapists the errors of their ways is like saying we can show all terrorists the errors of their ways. It is unrealistic and insensitive to the safety of women. We can sit back and naïvely believe rape is an issue that will go away without a fight, or we can look at the facts. The Centers for Disease Control found that one in five women have reported being sexually assaulted. At a school like Rutgers, with about 18,500 female undergraduate students, 3,700 of them would have reported being sexually assaulted.
Therefore, expecting a woman to go out in the world without a means of protecting herself is naïve and downright foolish. As much as we can hope things will be different, we have to face the harsh reality that sometimes, more often than we’d like to believe, a criminal with a will finds a way. That’s why women need to be equipped with the tools, or rather the “weapons,” to protect themselves as much as they can. We’ve learned that teaching abstinence to teenagers is not the cure-all solution — why would teaching anti-rape to rapists be any different?
I’m not against sexual assault education. It is absolutely necessary and, in many accounts, needs to be improved. The youth of this generation, in general, takes the concept of rape and sexual assault too lightly, as it is depicted on teen dramas and fictitious crime shows. There is certainly a way to decrease the number of sexual assault offenders because people can change through education. However, they are not the only ones who need to be educated. The public needs to be educated on how to handle the situation when it occurs. When a woman is sexually assaulted despite the existence of products like “Undercover Colors,” these products are not intended to prompt the question, “Why didn’t you think before taking the drink?” as many seem to believe.
As a female who falls into the under-25 target age group of sexual assault victims, I completely support the advancement of anti-rape products like “Undercover Colors.” Quite simply, we can pretend what is bad can be turned to good, or we can accept reality and understand we have the power to protect ourselves.
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