Rape-prevention nail polish will not prevent rape

Therese Stastny

There’s a whole collection of gadgets that claim to prevent rape. Anti-rape underwear, anti-rape jewelry, anti-rape belts, whistles, drug-detecting coasters, condoms, something terrifyingly called the “killer tampon” (I’m not making any of these up, I swear) and now to add to that, anti-rape nail polish. 

Many advocates have already voiced their concerns about the misleading implications about what rape is and who is to blame that led to the development of all these “preventative” products and GVSU’s Women’s Center would like to voice their concerns with this new addition to the anti-rape collection as well.

On behalf of the Women’s Center, there are two main points that I want to make very clear in this short article. The first and foremost is a point that we seem to have to keep emphasizing over and over and over again because for some reason, it just won’t sink in. 

Sexual assault in any form, including rape, is NEVER EVER THE VICTIM’S FAULT. Ever. Period. That is it! Simple! It is never their fault, nor is it ever deserved. Advertising for any kind of product like anti-rape nail polish automatically implies that the targeted audience (in this case it’s young women who frequently wear nail polish and go to parties where date-rape drugs may possibly be present) bears sole responsibility for keeping themselves from being assaulted. And if they forget their rape whistle or their bracelet alarm or they forget to get a manicure, it’s automatically their own fault. But as I just stated, rape is NEVER the victim’s fault, it is ONLY ever the rapist’s fault.

The second point I need to make here is that anti-rape nail polish or any sort of self-proclaiming “anti-rape” product is NOT actual rape prevention. This sort of stuff is only risk reduction. And I say only because risk reduction is not enough. I am not even sure I want to say it’s a good thing considering the fact that any kind of risk reduction automatically places some blame on the shoulders of the victim, where there should be none. True rape prevention can only come from teaching rapists not to rape. Focusing on risk reduction in sexual assault can only go so far.

All these drug-detecting products like the nail polish and the coasters overlook the fact that the most common drug involved in sexual assault cases is just alcohol by itself, and by the rapist taking advantage of someone who is incapacitated and therefore unable to give consent in any way, making the drug-detecting properties of this nail polish pretty irrelevant.

Grand Valley takes sexual assault cases very seriously. If you or someone you know has been experienced rape or sexual assault, Theresa Rowland is a victim advocate on staff in the Women’s Center and she is here to provide any student who has been a victim with a safe and supportive space and confidential services.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and reach out for help. It is never ever your fault.

Therese Stastny, GV Women’s Center social media intern