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Don’t let liberal feminist “rape culture” theory get in the way of stopping rapes

Don’t let liberal feminist “rape culture” theory get in the way of stopping rapes

Why would anyone truly interested in protecting women be against the “Undercover Colors” nail polish?

If you went to college, you probably know someone who became the victim of sexual assault after a night out with friends.

Now a group of engineering students at North Carolina State University are developing a tool that can help young women avoid becoming victims of sexual assault.

Stephen Gray, Ankesh Madan, Tasso Von Windheim and Tyler Confrey-Maloney teamed up to develop “Undercover Colors,” a new type of nail polish that changes colors when it comes into contact with common “date rape” drugs like Rohypnol, Xanax, or GHB. In their mission statement, the four developers state that, “[o]ur goal is to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime… Through this nail polish and similar technologies, we hope to make potential perpetrators afraid to spike a woman’s drink because there’s now a risk that they can get caught. In effect, we want to shift the fear from the victims to the perpetrators.”

Via the International Business Times:

“With our nail polish, any woman will be empowered to discreetly ensure her safety by simply stirring her drink with her finger. If her nail polish changes colour, she’ll know that something is wrong.”

The team was granted $11,250 (£6,600) from North Carolina State’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, which aims to develop solutions to “real-world challenges”. Each of the students personally know someone who has been sexually assaulted.


Of course, some anti-rape activists see this new detection device perpetuating rape culture, as opposed to fighting it. An article in ThinkProgress lays out the nearly-indefensible argument against detection devices and defense techniques, accusing our alleged “rape culture” of of forcing women to “work hard” to prevent themselves from becoming the victims of sexual assault:

“One of the ways that rape is used as a tool to control people is by limiting their behavior,” Rebecca Nagle, one of the co-directors of an activist group called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture that challenges the societal norms around sexual assault, explained. “As a woman, I’m told not to go out alone at night, to watch my drink, to do all of these things. That way, rape isn’t just controlling me while I’m actually being assaulted — it controls me 24/7 because it limits my behavior. Solutions like these actually just recreate that. I don’t want to fucking test my drink when I’m at the bar. That’s not the world I want to live in.”

According to Alexandra Brodsky, one of the founders and current co-directors of Know Your IX, a survivor-led group working to address campus sexual assault, well-intentioned products like anti-rape nail polish can actually end up fueling victim blaming. Any college students who don’t use the special polish could open themselves up to criticism for failing to do everything in their power to prevent rape.

Another article in The Guardian completely misses the point about rape defense.

The author argues that, because this nail polish could only help one woman, the idea should be dumped entirely in favor of some fantasy strategy to eradicate all violence from the world:

I’m appreciative that young men like want to curb sexual assault, but anything that puts the onus on women to “discreetly” keep from being raped misses the point. We should be trying to stop rape, not just individually avoid it.

If it were truly that simple, previous iterations of this same concept would have worked. Remember “anti-rape underwear”? Or the truly terrifying “Rapex” – a female condom that would insert tiny hooks into an assailant’s penis? You can’t really expect women to wear modern chastity belts or a real-life vagina dentata in order to be safe. That’s not trying to stop rape – it’s essentially arguing that some people getting raped is inevitable… So long as it isn’t me isn’t an effective strategy to end rape.

Examples of “feminists” who are completely missing the point unfortunately abound.

The developers of Undercover Colors aren’t suggesting that their future product is the key to eliminating sexual violence against women; their goal (as stated on their Facebook page) is to “shift fear from the victims to the perpetrators.”

I don’t think anyone is under the delusion that a manicure is going to magically eliminate the violence and control issues that warp the minds of rapists; but any tool we can give women to help eliminate drug-induced amnesia and rape is one more tool that a rapist doesn’t have.

Rebecca Nagle in the ThinkProgress article says that she “[doesn’t] want to fucking test [her] drink” while she’s at the bar. She says that a world in which an assailant could potentially strike is not a world she wants to live in. (Me neither, girlfriend.)

But the reality is, that is the world she lives in; it’s the world we all live in—no matter how many times Jessica Valenti, author of the Guardian article, tries to deny it. Saying that any measure taken to avoid being raped contributes to “rape culture” is terribly disingenuous.

Would we tell a man that putting his wallet in his front pocket as opposed to his back pocket (or a woman keeping her purse zipped as she walks down the street) contributes to “theft culture?” Or that locking the front door contributes to “robbery culture?” We wouldn’t, because most people who exist in the practical world as opposed to the activist philosopher world acknowledge that evil exists. “Leaning in” and “addressing the issues” isn’t going to stop someone with severe control issues from attacking another person.

Arguing that self-defense encourages attacks actually does more to perpetuate this alleged “rape culture” than a bottle of nail polish that has the potential to warn a woman away from a potential attacker.


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Henry Hawkins | August 26, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Congrat’s to my home state’s vaunted NC State engineering dept for yet another sweet invent.

good lord.
by that reasoning all birth control is useless since it only helps 1 person at a time.

Radical feminists could no more abide an absence of all actual rape than could the WRONG Rev. Al abide the absence of all racial tension in the U.S.

And, in both cases, they will make it up whenever they find it useful.

    Sanddog in reply to Ragspierre. | August 27, 2014 at 12:11 am

    If there were an absence of physical rape, they’d change the definition and demand that all men walk at least 10 feet away from them with their eyes downcast.

I don’t get it. So should we all stop wearing seat belts because it contributes to the “auto wreck” mentality? If the moron doesn’t want to protect herself, that’s her decision. And good luck with that!

This kind of thing isn’t new. They’ve had a straw and a glass for the same thing for quite a while now.

I have 3 major objections to this that I have for those as well.

1) This polish cannot possibly (and never will) be able to detect every date rape drug on the market. Women will use this polish and think they’re ‘safe’. So they’ll engage in riskier behaviors than they would normally, like accepting drinks they didn’t see poured from people they don’t know, consume drinks that have been unattended for significant periods of time, etc.

Something like this is NOT a substitute for watching what you drink and from who.

2) This doesn’t detect the by FAR single most common date rape drug – plain alcohol.

    tphillip in reply to Olinser. | August 27, 2014 at 8:54 am

    “2) This doesn’t detect the by FAR single most common date rape drug – plain alcohol.”

    So what you’re saying is that when a woman is drinking in a bar the straw/nail polish is a failure because it doesn’t detect alcohol?

    You sound just like the daffy SJWs quoted above.

      Milhouse in reply to tphillip. | August 27, 2014 at 11:30 am

      Gawd you’re dumb. Olinser is exactly right. The most common “date rape drug” is alcohol, not any fancy additives. A woman who willingly drinks an excessive does of alcohol doesn’t need to worry about other drugs.

      Of course one difference is that a responsible woman can control her dose of alcohol, but not her dose of whatever additives someone might have put in it. So a device such as this makes sense for such women. And really it’s aimed only at them, because irresponsible women wouldn’t bother with such devices anyway.

        Henry Hawkins in reply to Milhouse. | August 27, 2014 at 3:32 pm

        The most commonly used date rape drugs are soporific on their own, but mixed with even a responsible amount of alcohol the combined effect is multiplied beyond the sum of both, called the synergistic effect.

        Therefore, even women drinking responsibly could benefit from the nail polish detection device.

          Milhouse in reply to Henry Hawkins. | August 28, 2014 at 4:18 am

          Yes, as I said, this product can only be aimed at responsible women, who drink only as much alcohol as they know they can handle; irresponsible women who drink too much alcohol would never bother with such devices anyway, no matter how available they were to be.

If only they would develop a toothpaste that detected BS.

OMG the stupidity astounds me. Lets just pretend … ok nvm let’s not because most of the rapes are committed by a few men. So here we have a tool that would put a potential rapist in jail and put him on law enforcement radar for the future, and we should not use it because, rainbows and unicorns.

Really? Really? Woman finds man has tainted her drink woman goes to bathroom calls police, woman goes back and waits for police to arrive. Police arrive, confiscate drink as evidence arrest man, and question woman. Drink is found to contain said substance man goes to jail. WOW isn’t that making the world more like what the ignorant “feminists” want, and so we shouldn’t use items because ALL men are already supposed to be good.

Dear Campus Advisor,

Like, what happens when, like I put it, like you know on my toe nails. Do I like have to put my whole, like, foot in the glass or just, you know, like dip my big toe.

_Sociology Major in Dorm 3

JackRussellTerrierist | August 27, 2014 at 1:41 am

What they seem to be saying is that the only way for a woman to be safe is not to date, drink, go to a party or a bar, ever.

That’s the only way to avoid rape. How’s that for the 24/7 control they’re complaining about?

    No, you don’t get their point at all. What they’re saying is that the problem of rape needs to be addressed at its root. Women get raped, not because they were vulnerable, but because rapists exist. If there were no “rape culture”, women wouldn’t need to worry about it, and wouldn’t need to do anything to avoid it. After all, nobody worries about having frogs thrown at them, or takes any steps to protect themselves from it, since it never occurs to anyone to do such a thing in the first place; if rape were like that, there would be no problem. Since the rapists are the ones who create the problem, the onus of fixing it should be on them, and not on anyone else.

    To see what nonsense this is, just read it again, substituting “car theft” for “rape”. Yes, if there were no car thieves we could all leave our cars unlocked, and not bother with steering wheel locks, or lo-jack, etc. But there are car thieves, so we do need to take all these precautions, and someone who leaves their key in the ignition and has their car stolen doesn’t get much sympathy from normal people. Saying that the root of the problem is the existence of car thieves is true but useless.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Milhouse. | August 28, 2014 at 12:35 am

      I got their point 100%.

      What I really meant is that the interpretation, or extended logic, of their claim would result in women never going anywhere or doing anything rather than take a step to protect themselves.

      I didn’t mean to imply THEY were saying this, but that that’s the logical upshot of their position, even though THEY don’t realize it They say they want the men who do these things controlled, but the REALITY is that women have to control it with measures such as the polish or what have you, 24/7, according to their theory of the rampancy of incidents.

        No, the extended logic of their claim would result in women behaving exactly as if there was no such thing as rape, or any other crime, and thus taking no measures whatsoever to protect themselves. It would result in women going everywhere naked and defenseless, getting drunk and flirting with any man who catches their fancy, without a thought for their safety. And it would result in a whole lot more rapes.

Why should I have to lock my house, when burglars should be taught that burglary is wrong?

    Milhouse in reply to ReReFicoli. | August 28, 2014 at 4:24 am

    Exactly. You have it nailed 100%. That is the radical feminist line on rape. Any attempt to lower the burglary rate just perpetuates burglary culture.

That was no feminist talking. A real feminist would welcome yet another tool that a clever and determined woman could use to protect herself. This is empowerment, and I noticed that the inventors used that word, “empowered” to describe its effect.

When I sent my son away to college in DC, I told him that he should never be alone outside after dark. There is safety in numbers, because it lessens the opportunity for crime. That this woman should interpret the need for company outside at night as specific to “rape culture” demonstrates her lack of empathy and good sense.

No wonder they can’t see the value of the date rape detection nail polish.

Besides their brain-damaging liberal (illogical, dissonant, contradictory) thinking and screwball liberal arts courses, these militant feminist women have possibly been engaging in some drinking and drugs at their university or even high schools.

They didn’t probably hang out with the clean-living Christian Bible or Jewish Torah crowd, and most probably didn’t pledge a Greek Sorority, but hung with the herbal, no bra, no make-up, no nail polish crowd anyway. Nail polish on them would stand out like a sore thumb. This crowd needs a little stick tester like in the diabetes blood sugar and pregnancy tests.

As for the increase in rapes, drinking and drugs are a major factor, but there is also an increase of the two major ethnic groups that engage in rape more frequently than the norm.

You know which groups I mean.

    stevewhitemd in reply to Uncle Samuel. | August 27, 2014 at 8:58 am

    There is no increase in rape.

    Per FBI crime statistics, the prevalence of rape has been decreasing steadily over the past forty years. It’s lower than it’s been in a long, long time — and thank goodness.

    That the rape rate is not yet zero means that we need continued enforcement and vigilance. “Educating” potential rapists is not likely to work just as “educating” potential drug dealers or potential robbers doesn’t work. A new tool that provides a woman with a perhaps vital bit of information at a critical time is welcome.

It’s pretty consistent, no? They’re against weapons for self defense, anti-missile weapons (except in Israel, where they want people not to strike back at their enemies and live with continual missile fire). and, during the cold war, opposed civil defense measures.

Actually, it seems to me that the promiscuity culture leads to the rape culture (I’m not referring to violent rape in the street), but that’s just me.

    peg_c in reply to mzk. | August 27, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Binge drinking and the “hook-up” culture are both contributors. Young women on campus too often treat themselves extremely cheaply and wonder why so many guys do the same.

theduchessofkitty | August 27, 2014 at 9:18 am

Don’t y’all think there’s another reason the feminist crowd is upset about this? Look at the names of the students involved in the invention: Stephen Gray, Ankesh Madan, Tasso Von Windheim and Tyler Confrey-Maloney.

All men.

And Engineering majors, no less.

If “Women’s Studies” majors were to stop their b!#@#ing and moaning and begin to focus on pursuing the careers and the skills that pay good dividends in the future instead of crying like Victorian-era banshees, they would have come up with ideas like this one.

Note: I speak as a graduate from a women’s college.

    I also find it odd in the extreme that men invented this. Most men never even think of date rape at all unless they have college-aged daughters.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to peg_c. | August 27, 2014 at 11:18 am

      Engineering students invented this. That population is heavily male. Enrollment is voluntary. Few females enroll. Most male students have mothers, sisters, aunts, and many have daughters. These particular students are at ground zero for the dating scene.

      What you find odd may say more about you than about men.

      Phillep Harding in reply to peg_c. | August 27, 2014 at 11:41 am

      An engineering nerd is going to feel good about a woman he’d like to date being date raped?

      It said in the article that every one of the four inventors knows someone who’s been sexually assaulted and/or date-raped. They have a vested interest, not for themselves, but for their friends/families.

      I know more than a few engineers. They see problems, and think of solutions. These four took the initiative, created a solution (not the solution, but a solution) to a problem, and might be able to market a profitable product around it.

      What’s odd about this? Is it that the inventors have penises instead of vaginas (men get sexually assaulted too, y’know; it’s less common, but it happens), or is it that they’re marketing it instead of giving away the fruit of their labor for free? Please explain.

    “If “Women’s Studies” majors were to stop their b!#@#ing and moaning and begin to focus on pursuing the careers and the skills that pay good dividends in the future instead of crying like Victorian-era banshees…”

    … then they wouldn’t be “Women’s Studies” majors. 😉

Life is an exercise in risk management. People should welcome non-intrusive tools and methods to mitigate risk. The “nail polish” litmus test is a welcome addition.

therein lies the problem, one would have to acknowledge that evil exists in order to accept the need for precautions. That amount of cognitive dissonance is too discomforting.

I suspect that the hostility directed by radical feminists at this particular safety device has little to do with its practical value, and more to do with an ideology that is hostile to individual choice. Unless, of couse, they agree with what you choose.