Some enterprising male students at North Carolina State University managed to develop a nail polish that detects common date rape drugs, like Rohypnol and GHB, and gave it the clever name “Undercover Colors.” At first blush, this is a lovely effort by a handful of concerned college men to protect their female friends from men with sinister intent.
These well-intentioned young men probably thought they would get a hero’s welcome and an honorary membership to the hallowed halls of feminist legends. Or at least a thank you. What they got was a mountain of backlash.
I think it’s great that some conscientious men created a discreet way for women to assess whether or not their date is a criminally spineless, power-hungry coward. The more tools women have to protect themselves the better. That’s why I wrote my book.
That said, what those young men, and most men frankly, don’t see is that every program to teach women how to fight, how to be more aware, how to avoid this and prevent that are all communicating the same thing: “Girls and women! It’s up to you to not get yourself raped. YOU must change.”
This is what we call rape culture. Where the people doing the raping are never part of the conversation. It’s in our language. For example: the whole point of this blog is to prevent women from getting raped.
Do you see the problem? This is what the backlash is about. Until we start asking, ‘how can we prevent men from raping?’ the problem will persist. Although those young men had good intentions with their prototype nail polish, their time might have been better spent being good role models for their friends and helping their jack-ass buddies be better men.
Most rapists are serial in nature. One predator can account for dozens of sexual assaults. A woman dips her finger in her drink and discovers her date is trying to drug her–one woman saved. A group of good guys discover one of their friends thinks it’s cool to drug and rape girls and through social pressure force their friend to stop–dozens of women saved.
It’s great to come up with new tools to prevent violence against girls and women, as long as there is a concurrent conversation and effort being made to prevent men from perpetrating violence.