New Nail Polish Technology Raises Important Questions

Why Rape Prevention Activists Don’t Like The New Nail Polish That Can Detect Roofies

“I think that anything that can help reduce sexual violence from happening is, in some ways, a really good thing, but I think we need to think critically about why we keep placing the responsibility for preventing sexual assault on young women.” — Tracey Vitchers, the board chair for Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER) via Think Progress’s Tara Culp-Ressler

The US Department of Justice says there are about 89,000 rapes are reported each year, but that a whopping 95% or rapes are never reported. There is a rape crisis underway on college campuses in particular, and President Obama and the US Congress are trying to address it.

Flickr/creative commons

Flickr/creative commons

So a  lot of people got really excited when 4 male college students developed a nail polish that changes color when submerged in drinks to detect several date-rape drugs. Their motivation was pure in wanting to cut down the number of rapes of women who unknowingly drink something that will make them unresponsive and unable to recall the details of a rape.

However effective this may turn out to be, many believe this is like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound because it places the responsibility to prevent rape on the shoulders of the victims, further limiting their behavior, rather than the perpetrators.

Women are already expected to work hard to prevent themselves from becoming the victims of sexual assault. They’re told to avoid wearing revealing clothing, travel in groups, make sure they don’t get too drunk, and always keep a close eye on their drink. Now, remembering to put on anti-rape nail polish and discreetly slip a finger into each drink might be added to that ever-growing checklist — something that actually reinforces a pervasive rape culture in our society.

What do you think?

Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner is co-founder of VenusPlusX, and writes frequently on global sexual freedom, American fundamentalists exporting hate and homophobia, and grassroots activism.
Alison Gardner