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Anti-Rape Nail Polish: A Product of Rape Culture?

A few weeks ago, the story broke about a new anti-rape nail polish developed by four undergraduate male students from North Carolina State University. The polish changes color when it comes into contact with common date rape drugs. Many news sources have praised the product, calling it a huge step in ending the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses. A cute nail polish that can also protect you! Seems great, right? Well, maybe not.

shoutout nail polish

I have no problem with the concept of furthering the prevention of sexual assault; in fact, I think it’s an incredibly important goal that deserves attention and research. However, I take issue with the current direction of attention and research. This new product is just one of many additional products that force women to take extra precautions against being sexually assaulted. It puts the responsibility on the victim, which perpetuates the cycle of victim-blaming already present in our culture.

To take it a step further, I want to know what conversations about sexual assault will look like if this product is integrated into the mainstream market. Conversations about sexual assault, especially when victims don’t take the “necessary precautions,” are already way too common.

“Did you she the skirt she was wearing? She was dressed like a total slut, she was basically asking for it.”

“She was walking down a dark alleyway by herself, why would she put herself in danger like that? Of course she was raped.”

“She wasn’t wearing anti-rape nail polish, what did she expect?”

That phrase fits all too easily into the plethora of victim-blaming conversations that occur after a sexual assault. This nail polish is just one more thing for the media and the public to hold against rape victims.

I am tired of being told to “do this, wear that, don’t go there, protect yourself.” The conversation in the media is constantly focused on what women should do to not get raped instead of focusing on teaching men not to rape.

I’ve had several arguments with friends who insist that this product is a positive thing. “If rape is going to happen anyway, then what’s so wrong with creating products to prevent it?” Well, I’m not naïve. I’m aware that rape is a pressing issue and that it needs to be dealt with. My point is, imagine if the focus was shifted to new creative educational programs about sexual assault, or revamping the sex ed programs in schools? What if THOSE prevention methods were getting media attention? In fact, here are 11 additional ways to solve rape that tackle the idea of rape culture in addition to precautions taken by victims. Let’s move towards creating an anti-rape culture, not just an anti-rape nail polish.

5 Responses to “Anti-Rape Nail Polish: A Product of Rape Culture?”

  1. TheRadicalRadish

    I absolutely love this article, and I definitely agree with you on the fact that anti-rape nail polish simply furthers the long list of things women have to wear/do to not get raped. My only thought is, that I think the men that invented this, and the women that invented the anti-rape underwear, were just trying to create something to help women stay safer. In my mind, it is faster to put on a pair of anti-rape underwear and possibly stay safe against a certain kind of rape, than it is to change the culture’s mentality about how men should not rape women (and vice versa).

    I do think, with the current way our media reports rape, that these inventions can/might further victim blaming, but I think the idea behind them is not to further rape culture, but rather equip women with ways to protect ourselves, if we so desire.

    Reply
    • talkinboutmygenderation

      Thanks so much for your response! I definitely agree, it’s a very unintentional thing. Part of what makes rape culture so scary is that it’s so ingrained in us from day one, so it can be difficult to notice when we are unintentionally victim-blaming. I hope that calling out inventions like this will help stop the cycle of forcing women to buy/wear certain things to protect themselves. Thank you for your perspective, it’s really important to remember that this was not a malicious invention!

      Reply
  2. SpongebobBloggerpants

    I agree with TheRadicalRadish in that the nailpolish is most likely not coming from a malicious place. It was invented with the best intentions: to keep women, and men (if they so choose to don the nail accessory) safe from the dangers of sexual assault.

    On the same note, regardless of its honorable intentions, the consequences you mention above are, without question, concerning. The idea that profit is being made off a product, that supposedly prevents rape, is quite disappointing. Women and men have been pushed to the point where a beauty product is being advertised to guard against the likelihood of getting raped.

    “Let’s move towards creating an anti-rape culture, not just an anti-rape nail polish.” Could not agree more.

    Reply
    • talkinboutmygenderation

      I totally agree! Profiting off of the prevalence of sexual assault is such a disturbing thought, and opens up the door to many more products that capitalize on fear.

      Reply

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