Undercover Colors: Feminist Debate Spark

Ruby Porter, Photo Editor

Recently, a group of students at North Carolina State University created a nail polish that is designed to change colors when a finger is dipped into a liquid containing a ‘date-rape’ drug. Undercover Colors, while founded under noble ideas, has come under a lot of heat from journalists and members of the feminist movement alike.

Some pages, like ABC News, understand that one goal of the company is to empower women to prevent rape. However, some women such as Sophia Kerby, a writer for the Huffington Post, disagree completely. Instead of focusing on the positive concepts behind the product, a debate has sparked over the real intention of it.

The nail polish line has been compared to the rape whistle or pepper spray in that it allows victims to attempt to prevent the crime, but doesn’t prevent the causes. The causes, of course, being the mentality of the rapist. Instead of empowering victims to prevent the crime, critics of these products insist that the only solution is to teach (in schools, mind you) that the crime is immoral in the first place.

While I may agree that this should be taught readily, I cannot support it as the sole method of prevention. Truthfully, crime shaming won’t prevent every crime. We teach that murder is both illegal and immoral, yet this year the US has a homicide count of 14,173 people and counting. We teach that lying and stealing are immoral, and yet those are still prevalent as well. Just because someone is taught not to do something doesn’t mean that they won’t.

Thus, the only way that we can hope to ever prevent an attack on either psyche or body is to learn a method of defense. People of all genders are instructed and encouraged to learn self-defense and carry a knife, pepper spray, or any other legal defense mechanism.

Why? To fight against an attacker.

However, when it becomes a matter of rape, it suddenly goes beyond an attack. It becomes a matter of sexism. Women are encouraged to cover their body when going out on the town and watch their steps carefully, but are also just as adamant that they shouldn’t have to. Men are shamed for looking at the body of a woman because it automatically classifies them as a potential rapist. Even though women are just as guilty in that aspect as men.

While I will agree that, being a woman, I am uncomfortable walking alone anywhere at odd times of the day because there is always a potential for danger, I’m not automatically afraid of rape. I don’t assume that people are out for that. But I do recognize the possibility that it could happen to any gender. Anyone desperate enough to defile another human being won’t care if you’re dressed modestly. They won’t care if they were taught that it is immoral. They’ve already accepted that fact.

No, they’ll only care if you fight back or are able to prevent it in the first place. Teaching someone not to fulfill a crime won’t always prevent it. Nail polish, like a rape whistle or pepper spray, won’t necessarily stop an attack from happening. But what it will do is give you a fighting chance; a chance that you might not have had otherwise, a chance that we should accept no matter what. We can’t prevent the crime from being attempted, but we can attempt to stop it from being fulfilled.