You may remember hearing a few weeks back about a new type of nail polish that (male) students at North Carolina University recently developed. The polish is designed to change color when exposed to popular date-rape drugs such as Rohypnol, Xanax and GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid.
Needless to say, any effort put forth in order to reduce or eliminate the risk of rape is commendable and should be recognized as such. But while it is a great idea, there is the undeniable reality that it is simply a band-aid solution to a very real, much deeper issue.
What is happening with this solution and many others is that the actual source of the problem is not being addressed. We are putting the onus on women to make sure they do not become victims. This means having to stick their fingers in every drink they choose to have to make sure they’re not being drugged? Well, okay, I guess.
What this doesn’t do is account for many other factors. What if she forgets to put it on? What if she has half of her drink before she dips her finger into it? What if there is another type of drug the polish doesn’t detect? But more importantly than those questions is the glaring reality that many rapes and other acts of violence occur without the use of any drugs at all. They are just that – acts of violence.
I see the nail polish as a metaphor. I see it as a metaphor for putting the responsibility on women to make sure they are not raped or abused. Should everyone be aware of their surroundings and have the tools needed to defend themselves? Yes, absolutely. This goes for men as well. Should they always be living with that fear of potentially being attacked in one way or another? No, no, and more no.
So then what is the real problem here? The real problem is that we are not focusing enough on the source of the issue(s) at hand. We are saying “Here, use this so you don’t get attacked by someone” instead of saying “Hey, why are people attacking others and what can we do to stop it in the first place?” We need to hold men more accountable for their actions. We need to be better at discussing respect, equality, sex, and any other related topics with our youth.
We need to raise a generation of men who would never dream of raping or abusing women in the first place. We need to eliminate the idea in society that women are goals to be obtained. Objects to be pursued. Disposable notches on a bed post.
When women feel the need to dress differently than they normally would because men will think they are “asking for it,” it oppresses one individual’s freedom because of the supposition that another individual wouldn’t be able to control himself around her. It once again puts the onus on the (potential) victim to not “tempt” her attacker instead of addressing why the attacker is acting this way in the first place. This makes sense in what universe?
When women don’t feel safe walking home or to their car alone at night, it is certainly not because of other women. We, as men, need to realize how real of an issue this is and begin working to solve it.
This only comes along with squelching the societal norms that reinforce these ideas.
This is all of our responsibilities, whether we have children or not. It stems from how we treat, look at, and talk about women in public. It comes from the people who make jokes about women and also from the people who sit there and pretend to laugh even when they are uncomfortable. It perpetuates itself only if it is allowed to.
It comes from parents, older siblings, cousins, uncles, and friends. Men who abuse their wives, and also the men who know about it and do nothing. Public figures who abuse women like Ray Rice and Floyd Mayweather who our youth look up to, and also the people who knowingly support these figures, making it “okay” because they are a good athlete.
We will never stop rape or domestic violence with nail polish. Or a rape whistle. Or brass knuckles. Because even if that man is fought off by one woman, he is still the same person and will eventually find someone who is not as strong as she is.
You would never attack someone who you respect as an equal to yourself, so what we really need is to teach our youth that everyone fits into that category, not just other men.
Women being victims of domestic violence and rape is not a “women’s issue.” It is the issue of those who are doing the victimizing. It is a men’s issue. And most of all – it is a human issue. It’s time we all started seeing each other as humans and not as targets or goals, and it starts with every one of us.
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