August 29th, 2014
This week saw much discussion on the invention of a nail polish that can be used to detect date-rape drugs in drinks. Will this protect women? Many anti-violence activists have doubts.
In “Why is it easier to invent anti-rape nail polish than find a way to stop rapists?” Jessica Valenti argues that focusing on an individual “so long as it isn’t me” strategy isn’t an effective way to end rape:
If it were truly that simple, previous iterations of this same concept would have worked. Remember “anti-rape underwear”? Or the truly terrifying “Rapex” – a female condom that would insert tiny hooks into an assailant’s penis? You can’t really expect women to wear modern chastity belts or a real-life vagina dentata in order to be safe. That’s not trying to stop rape – it’s essentially arguing that some people getting raped is inevitable.
Similarly, Julianne Ross describes the nail polish as “simply the latest in a slew of anti-rape products that don’t necessarily make the world a safer place, but do make women’s lives more difficult by adding yet more items to the list of things they ‘should’ do to avoid rape.” In her piece, “If We Gave Men the Same Rape Advice We Give Women, Here’s How Absurd It Would Sound,” she tells men to “wear practical shoes” so they can quickly get away from any woman who’s alone.
The hard truth is that rapists are people we know, which Ann Brasco points out in “10 Tips for Talking About Sexual Violence with Your Sons”:
Rapists are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends, our friends’ children, and sometimes, our family. No parent wants to believe that their own child could be capable of such an injustice. And that is precisely why this conversation is so critical.
By having open and critical conversations with all children, sons included, we can work towards a safer world.
School safety is one part of the equation. Jill Filipovic at Cosmopolitan writes that “sexual violence is an endemic campus problem,” noting that some schools are “owning the issue and working to keep students safe while others simply go into risk management mode or deny they have a problem at all.” In consultation with educators and activists, she drafted “18 Questions to Ask About Your School’s Sexual Assault Policy.”
“The No. 1 red flag is a school that says, ‘We don’t have a problem with sexual assault,’” says a sexual assault educator quoted in the article.
Also this week, from another unexpected corner of the World Wide Web, came a flowchart called “Should You Catcall Her?”
A young lady walks by, who you find sexually attractive. You’re probably not clever enough to come up with an original thought, so the only remaining option is to yell out at her, like you are not a smart person. Should you do it?
The chart walks readers through a sensible series of steps in determining the appropriateness of a catcall.
The source of such a handy resource? Playboy. I was just as surprised as you are.