Lady Business: Preventing preventatives

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent those of Maryville College or the Highland Echo staff.

I have always been fond of being prepared for everything. I read ahead for class and take extensive notes, set three alarms in case alarm number one or two fail to wake me up or go off in the morning, etc. While it is possible to prepare for worst case scenarios, it is not always the bearer’s burden to carry. Women are targeted by an innumerable amount of products to help them prepare for anything and everything from makeup for improving appearances to more serious products like pepper spray for self-defense.

The new date-rape-detecting nail polish is the latest product I have an issue with. It was recently developed by four college students and has created quite a storm of attention towards the problem of sexual assault as a whole. This is not the first invention created that claims to detect the presence of drugs in a drink. There have been color-changing cards and straws for years that do just that. However, the idea of a nail polish offers a more discrete fashion of dipping into a drink without blatantly testing a drink of front of the person who gave it to you.

My biggest objection to any rape preventative product is that it does not actually prevent sexual assault. I will note that the idea of a nail polish that can detect drugs can give a victim necessary foresight and the potential to remove themselves from a more than unpleasant situation. The bigger issue is not that women are not aware of when their drinks may have been contaminated by a drug of some sort; it is that someone has drugged their drink with the intention to cause them harm in the first place. Wearing nail polish does not remove this intent, nor does it derail a perpetrator from committing a crime to someone wearing or not wearing this nail polish.

This product asks the woman to assume responsibility for preventing sexual assault from happening to her. When in reality she has no control of others’ actions at all. When a product is made for a woman to prevent rape, it implies the woman is assuming responsibility for the crime, placing the blame on her. This perpetuation of blaming the victim and exonerating the perpetrator creates an environment that is no longer safe for the individual.

Other preventative solutions that recommend women behave or dress a certain way also put responsibility for the perpetrator’s actions on the victim; this creates a society in which crime against another person is okay if the person didn’t do enough to prevent it. Sexual assault is one of the few crimes in which this occurs. To put it into perspective, victim blaming in other crimes that don’t have the potential for prejudice bias are odd and rarely occur.

Homeowners are not blamed when their home is broken into and the criminal is not excused because the home didn’t have a better alarm system.

Another issue I have with this product is the form in which it is presented. I find it disturbing that not only does this need to exist, but that it comes in the form of an accessory as if it were a new trend. On top of this fact, it is an accessory targeted only for women. This implies that sexual assault victims are only women, when in reality, men are also victims of sexual assault. This stigmatic cycle created by societal notions of where blame lies and who can be a victim only gives way for more crime to go unchecked. While preventatives can help someone avoid a dangerous situation, they do not fix the problem that women are taught not be raped as opposed to everyone being taught that rape can happen to anyone and that in all instances it is wrong.

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