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Ear to the Ground

This Week in Anti-Rape Fashion: A ‘Life-Saving Nail Polish’

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Posted on Aug 26, 2014

    Apparently preventing sexual assault is as easy as stirring your lacquered finger in a drink, or is it? Shutterstock


It seems like every year or so some team of well-meaning individuals decides that what women need to avoid rape is special underwear or condoms full of teeth or insert-bizarre-potentially-victim-blaming-product-here.

Undercover Colors, a nail polish designed to change a drink’s color when it contains so-called date-rape drugs, is really nothing more than another item in a long list of products that shift responsibility from the rapist to the rape victim. And while it may seem like a savvy preventive measure, it’s seriously time to stop pouring resources into developing fun, stylish anti-rape products for victims to prevent their own assault. As Jessica Valenti at The Guardian ponders in a recent column, “Why is it easier to invent anti-rape nail polish than find a way to stop rapists?”

The Guardian:

Even if a woman were to wear special nail polish or anti-rape underwear, or if she listens to common – but misplaced – advice about not getting drunk and always walking home in a group, all she’s supposedly ensuring is that she won’t be attacked. (And even then it’s not real security, because women who do all the “right” things get raped too) What about the girl at the same party who decided to have a few drinks that night? So long as it isn’t me isn’t an effective strategy to end rape.

Prevention tips or products that focus on what women do or wear aren’t just ineffective, they leave room for victim-blaming when those steps aren’t taken. Didn’t wear your anti-rape underwear? Well what did you expect?

That’s a familiar refrain. In a Bloomberg article last week, for example, one Stanford student compared women who get raped to unlocked bicycles…The problem is that simply being female in public remains an undue risk. Do we really believe that half the population should be required to avoid parties, socializing, drinking, cute clothes and walking alone if they don’t want to be raped?

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For a hilarious take on the sort of “common but misplaced advice” Valenti is talking about, watch this “Daily Show” clip we posted a few months ago: ‘The Daily Show’: Women Just Spend Their Whole Day Navigating a Course of Sexual Menace.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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