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Rape prevention polish proves controversial

Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

It could happen to anyone.

It could happen anywhere, at any time, regardless of age, race or gender.  What’s most frightening of all, though, is that it could happen regardless of the connection you have with or the trust that you place in that person.

It could happen to anyone, and it could be facilitated by anyone.  That is the harsh reality of date rape.

Four students at North Carolina State University are aiding in the fight to prevent date rape.  They have developed a nail polish called Undercover Colors that has the capability to detect some of the most common date rape drugs, including Rohypnol, Xanax and GHB, according to Newsweek magazine.

All one needs to do is wear the polish – which is initially clear and thus relatively unnoticeable – and then stir the drink in question with a finger.  If the nail polish comes into contact with one of the aforementioned drugs, it will change color, thus alerting the wearer to the drug’s presence.

While some view this new development as a step in the right direction toward rape prevention, there are quite a few activists out there who believe that this product is actually a bad move, as it places the responsibility on women to not get raped instead of men to not rape women in the first place.  Some even go so far as to claim that the product promotes rape culture in today’s society.

“I think it’s a good tool, but there are a lot of things that make it not as useful as it sounds,” said Emma Reeves, a sophomore English licensure major.  “For example, you have to be wearing it, and you have to be able to put your finger in the drink.  A lot of times, if rape is going to happen, you’re not going to have those opportunities to check beforehand.  So, I think it’s a good attempt, but it’s not a final answer,” Reeves said.

Personally, I am on the side of Undercover Colors.  As a victim of a similar situation myself, I understand the humiliation and depression and sense of shame that comes with being a victim.  I also understand victim blaming on a personal level and the problems it causes.

I have never and will never support victim blaming or placing any type of shame on the victim of such a heinous crime, as these victims are often helpless in the situation and have gone through enough without the added stress of the fear of coming clean due to the unnecessary shame placed on their already heavy shoulders.

However, as a victim, I also know that – in the case of the majority of men who commit these crimes – no amount of teaching them not to rape will cause them to rethink their actions.  They already know that having their way with a woman who is too incapacitated to grant consent is rape.

They already know that coercing a woman even without the use of drugs into an act she is unwilling to do or forcing his way upon a woman, despite her pleading, is rape.  They know these things, and yet they commit these horrendous crimes commit them with this knowledge firmly planted in their minds.

There are a few select men who do not grasp these concepts, and yes, we should still get the message out there that rape is wrong. Though in the case of most men, the knowledge of what is rape does not stop them.  Simply put, they do not care.

Whether it be in pursuit of power or satisfaction, they will commit these crimes regardless of the knowledge of what is rape and what the potential punishment could be.  Again, they do not care, nor will they ever care.

“I do believe that women have a certain amount of responsibility to not do stupid things,” said Dexter Givens, a sophomore dance major. “But at the same time, they are definitely not to blame. Especially when it has to do with date rape and drugs, because in those situations the girl is usually with someone she at least somewhat trusts.”

“Yes, men shouldn’t rape women, but most of us women can’t do anything about that,” Dexter said. “We just have to be smart. So yes, I think (the nail polish) could be useful if it proves to be reliable.”

While not all rape happens with the involvement of date rape drugs, this is a step in the right direction.  This product should not be looked at as a vessel for victim blaming, but rather as a tool to empower women and give them back some level of control.

By giving women tools to help gain control over their own bodies and to give them a say in what happens to them, Undercover Colors is truly doing women a service.

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Rape prevention polish proves controversial