Why Do Some Feminists Oppose Nail Polish that Prevents Date Rape?

Caroline Leal | WORLD News Service | Monday, September 15, 2014
Why Do Some Feminists Oppose Nail Polish that Prevents Date Rape?

Why Do Some Feminists Oppose Nail Polish that Prevents Date Rape?


Preventative solutions to sexual assault are getting stylish.

 

The startup company Undercover Colors, which markets itself as “the first fashion company to prevent sexual assault,” is currently developing a nail polish capable of detecting the presence of common date-rape drugs like Rohypnol and Xanax, which are generally colorless and odorless, in beverages. All a woman has to do is dip her nail into a drink and see if the polish changes color. What the product may lack in discretion (or good table manners and hygiene, for that matter), it makes up for in ingenuity, its developers claim. 

 

Undercover Colors was founded by four undergraduate engineering students at North Carolina State University. According to co-founder Ankesh Madan, inspiration for the polish came from personal experience. 

 

“We were thinking about big problems in our society, [and] the topic of drug-facilitated sexual assault came up,” he recently told Higher Education Works. “All of us have been close to someone who has been through the terrible experience, and we began to focus on preventive solutions, especially those that could be integrated into products that women already use.”

 

While the company is still in the development and fundraising phase, and there’s no word on when the polish will be made available to the public, Undercover Colors has received positive reviews on social media and from online critics applauding its cleverness. “This is an amazing idea that I support wholeheartedly,” wrote one commenter on the Undercover Colors Facebook page. “I have a daughter myself, and will ensure that she uses the product.”

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 1 in 5 women experience sexual assault during their lifetimes. Nearly a third of sexual assault cases take place while women are in college. A 2009 study estimates 20 percent of college women will become victims of date rape by the time they are seniors, with alcohol playing a role in their assault nearly 90 percent of the time.

 

Scarlet Devens, a 23-year-old single woman from Westtown, N.Y., said that while she rarely goes on dates with men she does not already know and trust, she would still use a product like Undercover Colors as a safeguard and encourage her female friends to do the same: “I am confident that certain friends and acquaintances of mine have experienced these horrors [of sexual assault], and I am very intentional about avoiding potentially dangerous situations to the extent that I am able.”

 

But the likely effectiveness of Undercover Colors has recently come under fire, with some critics arguing that clever ideas and good intentions don’t add up to a product that actually empowers women. The blog Feministing claims date rape drugs are not used to facilitate sexual assault all that often in comparison to the use of plain alcohol. The blog complains the nail polish, like anti-rape underwear and pepper spray cameras, is yet another “gimmicky” precaution that will only succeed in falsely convincing women they are protected from sexual violence. 

 

Tara Cul-Ressler of Think Progress wrote that well-intentioned products like Undercover Colors could actually end up fueling victim blaming: “Any college students who don’t use the special polish could open themselves up to criticism for failing to do everything in their power to prevent rape.”

 

 

Courtesy: WORLD News Service 

 

Photo: Undercover Colors is developing a nail polish that detects the presence of date rape drugs in beverages.

 

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

 

Publication date: September 15, 2014

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