Preventative date rape measures cause controversy


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From the Nightlife Guide —

The availability of a type of nail polish that can detect date rape drugs in drinks has circulated around the Internet for about a year.

National news media outlets have given it attention and the polish has made its waves around social media websites, too.

Wichita State professors and students gave insight into what these new technologies mean for men and women.

When the nail polish comes into contact with a date rape drug, it changes colors. It is designed to subtly warn women if their drink is spiked.

The nail polish is designed by “Undercover Colors,” a company based in North Carolina. According to its Facebook page, the nail polish allows anyone to “be empowered to discreetly ensure their safety by simply stirring their drink with their finger.”

However, this preventative measure for rape prevention, and others, has caused controversy.

A ‘conundrum’

Jodie Simon, a senior lecturer of sociology and women’s studies at Wichita State, said seeing several advancements in rape prevention is troubling because blame could still be put on the victim.

“This can very easily turn into, ‘Well, why didn’t you wear the nail polish?’ or ‘Why didn’t you download the app?’” Simon said. “What more can a woman do to avoid being raped? It’s good to see, and it’s also bad.”

Simon said she knows about several other technologies that are designed to prevent rape. These include bracelets that gauge how inebriated a person is, apps that allow friends to keep track of one another and underwear that is supposed to be difficult to take off unless the wearer does it.

Simon said the preventative technologies support the idea of rape culture. Rape culture is a term coined by feminists in the ’70s designed to “show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence,” according to the Women Against Violence Against Women, a rape crisis center.

“Think about what we’re saying when we’re building these kinds of technology,” she said. “We’re saying that a woman’s chances of being raped are high. Here’s what you can do to prevent this.”

The only place where a man, statistically speaking, experiences rape as commonly as a woman is in prison, Simon said.

“What we’re kind of adding, if you will, to add to our cultural worldview, is the idea that women should experience our society much like men experience the society of jail,” Simon said. “It’s kind of a frightening prospect.”

Simon described the preventative technologies as a “conundrum” because by design, they will help prevent rape, but the problems focus on the victim rather than the perpetrator.

“It’s nice to know that we are working on ways to try and keep women safe, to think about these new technological solutions that could possibly solve these issues, but they all seem to revolve around the victim,” she said.

Solutions

Freshman jazz studies major Megan Plantz said the nail polish is useful because it is discreet. And, it can save a life.

“Somebody’s going to be protected and that’s all that matters,” Plantz said. “You’re helping one person from not being raped or drugged then it pays for itself, really.”

To solve the bigger issue at hand, preventing potential rapists from raping, Plantz said, is to start educating young people.

Plantz does not agree with society’s narrow definition of a man, and that feminine men are not men.

“By demonizing a woman, you’re not making yourself look any better,” she said.

By starting young, Plantz said the bigger problem begins to disappear.

“It’s going to help when you teach a 5- or 6-year-old that, ‘This girl is just as much important and just as valuable to the world as you are,’” she said.

Simon suggested creating preventative measures for men, too. She said the No. 1 “rape drug” is alcohol, because it often blurs the line of consent.

“Yes means yes, no means no,” she said. “Add alcohol and it gets confusing. Is there a way we can have a ‘good to go’ app for men that allows men to be aware of when they’re becoming inebriated?”

Source: http://www.thesunflower.com/news/article_62043dec-570e-11e5-8bc9-a746555c966b.html


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