Undercover Colors

Kennedy Kruger

Anti-rape nail polish: Why the criticism?

As a child, I remember playing with “color-changing” Barbies. I would watch with fascination as I took my Barbie’s dripping hair out of ice water, seeing the blonde change to bright pink. When I got older, the newest fad was color-changing nail polish that when exposed to the sun the color would change from gold to bright red. As a soon-to-be college student, I never thought something like this could actually save my life.

Four North Carolina University students have come up with a nail polish that changes colors when exposed to date-rape drugs such as Rohypnol, otherwise known as “roofies” and GHB, a liquid form of ecstasy. The nail polish, Undercover Colors, offers a discreet alternative to similar inventions like coasters and cups that also change colors when exposed to dangerous drugs.

“We wanted to focus on preventative measures, especially those that could be integrated into products that women already use,” said Ankesh Madan, one of the creators of the polish, in an interview with the Washington Post.

With the majority of date-rape drug related sexual assault being on college campuses, the product is targeted directly to young adults.

“Being a college freshman, I am familiar with date rape and the popularity of it,” said former Dunbar student and first year WKU student Madi Bledsoe. “The fact that people can come up with something so helpful is bizarre and I’m excited to see how fast this new trend spreads.”

Even students who aren’t yet in college can see how helpful this product could be in future years.

“I feel the nail polish would be very useful no matter what college I end up going to,” said Dunbar senior Alexi Bell. “No matter if the area around the school is safe or not, the campus could be prone to date-rape drug use.”

Sexual assault has reached an all-time high, with one out of four college students reporting surviving rape or attempted sexual assault, according to anonymous surveys on campuses nationwide.

 While Undercover Colors could be the clever concept that empowers women to take safety into their own hands, the product is getting huge backlash from feminists who claim it actually encourages rape culture.

“Well intentioned products like the anti-rape nail polish can actually end up fueling victim-blaming,” said Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress. “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 the rape.”

On top of this claim, many say that instead of putting the responsibility on women to take measures to protect themselves, the creators’ should work towards stopping men from sexually assaulting women. “We often talk about sexual assault with our daughters, but we don’t do it with our sons,” said Elizabeth Plank, author of “11 Ways to Solve Rape Better than Nail Polish.”

Victim-blaming is a huge issue when it comes to sexual assault. Many politicians and judicial officials let rapists off with less jail-time because the victim was “asking for it” or dressed “promiscuously.” However, this doesn’t mean that the creators of Undercover Colors are in the wrong for engineering this product. This is a huge step from four men to protect women from sexual assault. Realistically, there is no way to eradicate sexual assault from society, and anyone trying to criticize the creators should ask themselves how exactly four people are supposed to stop men from actually committing these crimes.

More communication regarding men about sexual assault would be helpful, but honestly education alone isn’t going to stop men from committing these crimes. The creators of this nail polish should be praised for giving women the power to protect themselves, instead of being criticized for not solving one of the nation’s biggest problems.