Why women don’t need anti-rape nail polish

anti-rape nail polish

Madeline Link paints a picture in light of the development of an anti-rape nail polish.

anti-rape nail polish

An all-male student team at the North Carolina State University have invented Undercover Colors, an anti-rape nail polish technology that will allow women to discreetly check if their drink has been spiked. They claim that the nail polish will change colour if it comes into contact with date-rape drugs.

The group was granted $11 250 by the North Carolina State’s Entrepreneurship Initiative to complete the project.

This isn’t the first time a concept that makes women responsible for their own protection has been invented.

If history can give any insight into the future, this example of the perpetuation of rape culture will be as unsuccessful as the last.

Women have a multitude of anti-rape protection tools at their fingertips, from chastity belts of the 15th century, anti-rape underwear and “Rapex” – a female condom that inserts tiny hooks into an attacker’s penis.

With all of these options available to women, how do we explain a society where 57 per cent of Australian women have experienced one incident of physical or sexual assault in their lifetime?

Women don’t need protection, men need education.

Anti-rape nail polish will not eradicate rape.

There needs to be comprehensive sex education classes for male children to learn that they are not entitled to women’s bodies.

Society educates women from a young age to understand that they are not safe to walk alone at night, that the length of their skirt can act as “NO VACANCY” sign to potential attackers, that they are responsible for their own rape.
Anti-rape nail polish serves as nothing more than a fast-drying cover-up for a society that perpetuates rape culture.

What about the women who can’t afford anti-rape nail polish? Will women be offered free nail polish in bars and clubs along with their wrist stamps?

Preventing individual rape does nothing but shift the problem to the next girl.

The question on society’s lips needs to be, ‘How can we change this?’ not, ‘What did you expect?’

Image: J. Ronald Lee




  1. Brad 5 September, 2014 at 19:11 Reply

    I am in no way saying that rape is good thing at all but this piece seems to be underlined with heavy emotion and little effort is made to contribute in a substantial way what policy or realistic strategy should be taken other than to “educate young men”. Also, where did you source that information about ’57 per cent of Australian women have experienced one incident of physical or sexual assault in their lifetime’.

    Your argument assumes that rape is a problem that can be fixed, stopped or eradicated from human behaviour. I don’t believe this is necessarily the case. Like a lot of problems with human behaviour, especially from the perspective of contemporary culture stem from mental illness, socio-economic background as well as low education. Much like with facing the problems of mental illness as well as other highly complex problems, managing the problem is sometimes the only option. Such managing strategies that people use such as not walking alone at night down a dark alley, using anti-rape nail polish or watching your drink at all times are such strategies that can be used to a potentially non-fixable problem.

    I do believe that education can be a useful strategy to combat this problem within human behaviour. However, education can take many forms and can be implemented in various ways and to just say “educate them” seems like an uneducated or lazy statement. As previously mentioned, it would be better for your purposes to come up with some well researched, realistic objectives and strategies to overcome this complex issue which would include a vast array of managing strategies as well as insights and courses of action into ways to positively affecting the variables (mental illness, socio-economic background and education level) of the issue to come up with a sound policy to combat rape.

    It also fails to state that rape can happen to a man.

  2. Taylor 5 September, 2014 at 22:28 Reply

    100% agree with the overall message of this article. Measures like this will not eradicate rape and should not been seen as the primary way for society to combat it; instead we should be putting the responsibility on men (and also women) to not commit such heinous crimes in the first place, with a focus on education and the elimination of counterproductive (and frankly immoral) aspects of our culture like victim blaming.

    However, in saying that, the nail polish in question is not a bad idea and I don’t think it should be dismissed. It needs to be emphasised that it should only be secondary to the above and no woman should ever be blamed for not using it, but I see no harm in it being available. Even if we totally change society and rape becomes far less common, there will always be horrible people in it and a simple, non-intrusive way to protect yourself from them doesn’t hurt. When you then consider that we don’t live in that world right now, it’s definitely not the solution we need, but if it can prevent even one rape without taking away a woman’s freedom to go out, have fun and wear whatever she damn well pleases then I’m ok with it.

  3. c3163359 10 September, 2014 at 10:30 Reply

    Hi Brad,

    I will first address that this article is posted under the “comment” section of the website, thus it represents my personal views. As I am passionate about women’s issues, inevitably this article is ‘underlined with heavy emotion’. The statistic that 57 percent of Australian women have experienced one incident of physical or sexual assault in their lifetime was sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Your argument that rape is a cultural problem as a result of mental illness is not only statistically unfounded but also does nothing more than stigmatise those who suffer from mental illness. ‘Anti-rape’ strategies have long existed and been available to women, as stated in the article above, however they have done nothing to stop or curb the occurrence of rape. While they may make women feel ‘safer’ they do nothing more than stop individual rape and allow a rapist to attack the next woman who was unable to afford or did not have access to ‘anti-rape’ technologies. Unfortunately as a journalism student I am not qualified or required to ‘come up with’ policies or educational strategies that will eradicate rape. There are far too many social, political and economic factors that would need to be further researched to develop comprehensive education about rape culture for men and I do not have access to the resources necessary to either implement or design these types of programs. I can only hope that through sharing my viewpoints on this issue it will continue a conversation about rape culture that is necessary for change.

    Madeline Link.

  4. Tim 24 October, 2014 at 15:49 Reply

    Firstly, as the paragraphs following this is likely to ruffle some feathers, I would like to state that I agree with the sentiment of the article. Women should not have to be responsible for their own safety, men should simply refrain from raping them.

    Unfortunately though, we do not live in this perfect world. In our reality, men can and do force themselves on women. Thus far, attempts to change society and stop the spread of rape culture have failed. In light of this, why shouldn’t women take responsibility for their own safety?

    I liken it to crossing a busy road at a zebra crossing on foot. As the pedestrian, I have right of way, given to me by law. In theory, I should be able to stroll out onto the crossing blindfolded and be completely safe, yet we all know this isn’t the case. The laws of physics will not be broken by RMS rules, and if a driver is inattentive I am at risk of injury or death.

    To prevent this, we are taught to look both ways before crossing any street. In doing so, we take responsibility for our own safety because we can’t rely on others doing it for us. For me that single action of looking before crossing has been the difference between a close miss and a hospital stay.

    For the ladies here and elsewhere, this nail polish (and other anti rape methods) could be the difference between a fun night out, and being raped.

    I agree with you, we do need to change our culture. But until we do, refusing to take steps to protect oneself is insane.

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