Anti-rape nail polish: Is prevention really better than cure?

anti-rape nail varnish

A few months ago, the story broke that a revolutionary concept was being developed at a North Carolina University. Nail polish that changes colour when it comes into contact with the “date rape drug” was created by four male students from the university, and is on track to be sold as a “preventative measure” to rape.  An impressive way to prevent a horrible act, but is this getting to the root of the problem?

Rape is an act of violence. It is a violent sexual act that is done without consent. The person instigating the rape is in control and holds power over the other, especially when the date rape drug is used. What the “anti-rape” nail polish allows is for, presumably, women to test their drinks to prevent such an event occurring. By dipping their finger into the drink, their nail polish begins to change colour if the drug is present.

But why should a woman or man feel the need to test their drink through fear that another person may take advantage and rape them? People should be able to enjoy a night out, to socialise and meet new people without the fear of being raped or assaulted.

What we hear time and again is rape victims (particularly women) being taught how not to get raped. But where are the lessons that teach people not TO rape?

This invention reinforces many stereotypes, one of them being that women are the only victims of rape. This is just not true. The Rape Crisis Centre reported that at least 10% of all rape victims are men. This doesn’t take into consideration the ones that go unreported or the rapists that fail to be convicted. That’s at least 10% of rape victims that the people who invented this “preventative measure” have not considered. Of course, a man can wear this nail polish to make themselves feel safer, but the stereotype still remains that they don’t and can’t get raped. It also reinforces the idea that all rapists are men. Rather than passing the responsibility onto the victim, we should be holding rapists responsible for their actions.

The concept of making women feel safer is definitely a step in the right direction, but it fails to consider the other groups of people who fear getting raped but don’t have access to this nail polish. It also fails to consider the root origins and concerns that surround rape. There needs to be more of a focus on stopping the rapists out there, rather than trying to stop the victims. “She didn’t wear her nail polish, so she is to blame!” is a concept we need to avoid, and holding the victim accountable for another person’s actions is wrong.

Rather than creating fancy new drugs to prevent people from getting raped, there needs to be more focus on educating the public that rape is wrong. Even in some cultures today, rape is still considered either a taboo subject or just something that happens that people shouldn’t get involved in. This nail polish, in theory, gives control back to the victim, but in actuality it reinforces the idea that rapists hold control over not only their victims, but also their potential victims. Rape is never something we should have to avoid, and a victim should never be held responsible.

Words: Deanna Miles
Image: Lucas Alberto Climent Baró

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