You’ve probably already heard about this anti-rape nail varnish that the internet is in uproar over. If you haven’t, then I should clarify that it’s not as badass as the name suggests – it can’t literally fight potential rapists away (show me a nail varnish that can, and I’ll be impressed.)
What it can do, however, is make it easier to spot the presence of date rape drugs (Rohypnol, Ketamine, GHB etc.) that have been slipped in to your drink by seedy guys at the bar. The idea is that if you’re feeling suspicious about a drink somebody buys for you, you can simply give it a subtle little stir with your finger. The nail varnish is designed to change colour when it comes in to contact with these drugs – if it does, then you know which drink (and which men) to avoid like the plague. If it doesn’t change colour, then you can feel safer and more relaxed, with the added bonus of looking seductive as hell while stirring that drink.
Sounds great, right? That was my first thought at least. Upon further reflection however, many feminist circles are unimpressed. Some of the complaints are probably a little over the top, and some of them downright stupid. Some women, for example, hate the fact that this supposedly inherently feminist product has been designed by men. As though it’s all part of a male conspiracy and the men who designed it are sitting back laughing as the nail varnish actually taints our drinks with drugs that send us back to the 1950’s while we sleep. Clearly, I disagree with this complaint – if anything I find it impressive that we have reached the point where women’s issues are no longer simply concerning women. Men, too, have begun to acknowledge the problems that women undergo enough to devote time and research to them.
There are, however, issues with the product that seem to make a little more sense, the one major voice that cries out above the rest is that it promotes rape culture. For those of you who don’t fully understand what I mean by the term “rape culture” or even those of you who have the term earmarked as some dirty word used only by the scarier brands of radical feminists, let me set a few things straight to you. The term ‘rape culture’ is used to describe a society in which we view many forms of rape as acceptable. Rape culture, more often than not, refers to things in our society outside of the act of rape itself, broader ideas about gender that our society feeds to us, and which we usually take without question. It usually results in parents teaching their daughters to change their behaviour to try and avoid rape, rather than teaching their sons not to rape. Obviously it runs deeper than this, and some of the central ideas are somewhat more complicated, but when it comes down to it, many people view the marketing of this nail varnish as “hey, women! Here’s another thing that YOU can do to avoid rape!”
Personally, I’m not so sure. To me, there are two ways of viewing this product – either it is promoting rape culture, or it is simply a product of rape culture. Many people see it as the former, but it is possible that it is not the product itself that has an issue, but our society. In theory, yes, the product is very closely linked to some of the ideas which promote rape culture, but in practice, because of these ideas, whether we like it or not, products like this are necessary. It is this necessity that we should be fighting, not the product.
So those are some of the bigger concerns that people have been voicing in regards to this nail varnish, and while I can see where they are coming from, and even agree with them to an extent, right now my biggest worry is this: how readily available will it be? Will it be too expensive? Where can I buy it?!