Social media has been creating a lot of buzz about an innovative nail polish that would help to protect a potential victim from an assault. Created by four male students from North Carolina University, this nail polish is designed to change color when it comes in direct contact with several of the common drugs intended to temporarily incapacitate a potential victim.
According to the article, once the intended victim places their finger inside of the drink the polish will change colors helping to detect the colorless, odorless drug known as the "date rape drug" or "roofie." The goal of this life saving polish is to make the prowling perpetrator "fear the repercussions of being caught slipping a drug into someone's drink," thus ultimately creating a shift in fear from the victim to the perpetrator.
While this anti-rape polish has garnered a lot of support, there are many sexual assault prevention advocates that believe that innovations like this are misguided, can lead to victim blaming and may not necessarily be the best way to approach the sexual assault epidemic on college campuses.
I am incline to agree that a pretty polish, alone, cannot prevent a sexual assault, however I do believe that it is another tool that can prove to be very useful. In order to see a real reduction in sexual violence on college campuses, we need to change how sexuality is viewed in our culture. And this change MUST involve EVERYONE!
We need to create comprehensive programs that incorporate: 1) informed consent education and by-stander interventions, 2) addresses sexism, genderism, culture, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and healthy relationships, 3) identifies social determinants that contribute to risks, 4) identifies triggers, strength factors and protective factors, 5) incorporates survivor support and perpetrator interventions that reduce the likelihood of recidivism, and 6) teaches accountability and responsibility.
We also must address polices that serve as barriers and help to further stigmatize and institutionalized survivors. In order for politics to effectively impact sexual violence, it must become a priority! Such policies must consider addressing social determinants, focus on navigating structural barriers, take into account the impact of culture, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities, religion, economic and other social inequalities, and increase access to services for survivors and perpetrators.
Men must become involved! We need men to become allies in advocating for change. We must focus on redefining how masculinity is defined and viewed in society. We must also address the culture of male dominated athletics and organizations where overt sexual behaviors with undertones of sexual violence have been permissive and even accepted. In addition, we must create an environment that makes it safer and acceptable for men to come forward as survivors.
While, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list it is certainly a starting point to creating a culture that reduces sexual violence.