A group of four men from North Carolina State University have developed a nail polish that changes colour when exposed to certain debilitating drugs commonly used in sexual assaults. Their company is called Undercover Colors, and they tout the polish as “the first fashion company working to prevent sexual assault”. How does it work? It’s easy! If you suspect your drink has been compromised, stir your drink with your finger. If the nail polish changes hue, then your drink has been tainted! Run!
this brings up so many questions. Does it change different colours according to the drug used? Is it Rophypnol Rose? GHB Green? Extasy Evergeen? (Would it even work on Jaeger Bomb Yellow?) Or is it one blanket hue to cover all, like Oh No Orange? Maybe Run Lola Red?
What about the process? In order for this to work, a woman must put her finger in her drink. That’s not socially awkward at all. Imagine being on a date, and when the guy goes to the bathroom and returns, he catches his date sticking her finger in her drink.
HE: Um, what are you doing?
SHE: Oh, just stirring my drink.
HE: With your finger? There’s a stirrer right there, and besides, it’s just soda water.
SHE: Oh...um...but I don’t want to waste plastic.
HE: ...I’m gonna go...uh...powder my nose…
At this point the guy probably will realise she has sex polish on her nails and if he’s a good guy, will be offended that she would suspect him of drugging her. If he’s a Nice Guy™, he will make a big damn scene. If he’s a Pick-Up Artist®, He’ll be like, “Hey, you found my surprise!” and continue to attempt to close. In any case, a night is made awkward.
|George Lucas's Rendition of the Rapex Condom|
I won’t call this a terrible idea, but it is not the best. It is 100 times better than the Rapex condom. Besides having a very triggery name, it is a female condom that has little spikes in it. Imagine turning your vagina into a scale model of the Sarlacc Pit of Tatooine. There are two problems with this rape prevention tool:
- You have to walk around with a vagina full of spikes. Beside the comfort factor, what if you are out with someone with whom you actually want to have sex, and you forget to take out your vagidentures? That will be the first and LAST time you see this man.
- IT DOESN’T PREVENT RAPE. In order for the Rapex to work a woman has to actually be unwillingly penetrated, which is what we all want to avoid! We want to keep the pants ON.
I am sure that the men who developed Undercover Colors have their hearts in the right place. They just don’t have their heads in the right place, and that is what the problem is. A trench coat full of gadgets will not reduce the dangers of sexual assault. Real wanton criminals will figure out a way around any prevention gadget made. Worse, since sexual assault is more about power than pleasure, chances are a frustration over them might lead to more violence.
Much like unarmed brown teenagers, we still have this idea that it is on the woman to prevent the crime against her. Don’t wear short skirts! Don’t walk alone after 8:00PM! Don’t go to the beach in a bikini! Why didn’t you have your rape whistle on you? Did you pack your pepper spray? You need to learn 5 different forms of ancient martial arts!
I may be falsely crediting, but I believe Jessica Valenti said that it’s not a matter of teaching girls how to not get raped; it’s a matter of teaching boys to not rape. Women wouldn’t need technicolour nail polish and Sarlacc condoms if we taught more young men what respect for women is, and how consent works. Doing that would benefit all people, not just women.
So if you have an idea for a gadget to prevent rape, good for you, but make sure you and your friends know that it’s their actions that may make the device necessary, and if we had a better dialogue to understand how our actions triggered the “need”, we would be in a much better place.