Why I’m Not Clapping My Hands For ‘Anti-Rape’ Nail Polish
The Internet has been awash with the news that a group of four nice young men from North Carolina State University are in the process of developing a nail polish which can detect the presence of tranquillising drugs in drinks. This concept in itself is great – wearing this nail polish would allow women to dip a perfectly-painted finger into their drink and discover a drug that has been slipped into their drink that they would have otherwise been oblivious to. Sounds revolutionary, right? Maybe not.
The detection of the most commonly used date rape drug, GHB, is what the nail polish aims for. This is indicated by a change in the colour of said polish when it comes into contact with a contaminated drink. HOWEVER, there are a number of flaws in this idea which mean that the nail polish is not a reliable invention which women can use in an attempt to protect themselves.
For starters, similar products have been shown in studies to either be over-sensitive (showing a detection where there is none), or not sensitive enough – only 2 out of 3 traces of GBH were detected in tests featuring a product which uses the same technology.
Secondly, even if the nail polish WAS 100% effective at detecting commonly used date rape drugs, this innovation still lulls women into a false sense of security. There are endless other types of drugs out there which could be slipped into an unsuspecting woman’s drink in order to make her vulnerable to assault. Stimulants such as MDMA and ecstasy cause consumers to (unwillingly) lose their inhibitions, while sedatives like Xanax have effects comparable to GBH, causing blackouts and extreme drowsiness.
It is a sad reality, but unless society drastically changes, women will never be able to let their guard down. The consumption of alcohol alone puts women at risk if they drink too much. They are at greater risk once they become unaware of what is really going on, or even worse, black out.
I also worry that this nail polish will be used for profit rather than fulfilling its true purpose of protecting women who want to go out and have a good time without fear of assault. I very much doubt that this nail polish is going to be sold for £5, meaning people who can’t afford this technology will not have it available to them. This in itself perpetuates rape culture and victim-blaming – it says ‘she didn’t do this, or wear that, so she made herself more vulnerable’.
The way in which many people have responded to this development has been of concern to me. Whilst I absolutely acknowledge that these men had good intentions when coming up with the idea, and that they are trying to do something good for the world. I have also seen both the media and readers put too much emphasis on the fact that it is males who are behind this idea.
Why should it be notable that men, specifically, developed something intended to prevent sexual assault? It makes me feel very uncomfortable that they are being praised for basic human decency, aside from the development of the product.
Additionally, I have seen no statements from the creators of the nail polish condemning the actions of the people who have assaulted their female friends. Rape isn’t going to stop just because women have all these fancy devices and inventions in an attempt to remain safe. Most sexual assaults occur when the victim is conscious, and most people are assaulted by someone that they know.
Creating products such as these is all well and good, but I won’t be happy that the world is changing until I see campaigns against people sexually assaulting others. This stuff needs to be taught in schools. I didn’t hear a word about consent while in school. This needs to be spoken about on television, in magazines. It needs to be spoken about by celebrities and people who are prominent in society. Until then, this nail polish isn’t doing all that much.
What do you think? Is this a fantastic development or an over-publicised nail polish fad? Let us know in the comments below.