BY CHRIS FRYMAN
In recent days, a lot of attention has been given to four male undergraduate students at North Carolina State University for the development of a new nail polish named Undercover Colors.This isn’t yourordinary nail polish; it’s a color-changing nail polish. It isn’t, however, supposed to be a fashion statement or a reflection of the mood of the wearer. It changes color when it comes in contact with any one of several date rape drugs. It could help to dramatically reduce the percentage of sexual assaults on college campuses everywhere.
In practice, this product does wonderful things. Any woman or man wearing the nail polish while out at a party, bar or other social location can simply stir their drink with their finger. If their polish changes color, it indicates to them that their drink has been laced with Rohypnol (“roofies”), GHB or Xanax. Obviously, this would signal to the wearer that something is wrong and would hopefully prompt them to get themselves out of a potentially dangerous situation.
It is an outstanding way to prevent horrible events. The prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses around the country is horrifying.According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center (NSVRC), between 20 and 25 percent of women enrolled in higher educational facilities report surviving a rape or attempted rape during their time on campus. The presence of this new nail polish should be considered a remarkable advancement in the prevention of such a heinous crime because it is. But that isn’t the problem that I have with it.
The problem with Undercover Colors isn’t that it functions poorly or that it’s possibly tacky. It isn’t that this wasn’t a brilliant idea, because it was. It’s the fact that this sort of thing has to be invented that gets under my skin.
Saying that this is a prevention technique is a generous acclamation. It’s a last line of defense, for sure. But saying that this is what prevents sexual assaults is somewhat irritating to me. Prevention doesn’t begin when it’s almost too late. Prevention begins before any action is taken.
Sure, by a dictionary definition of the term, this does “prevent” drug-induced sexual assaults from occurring. It stops it before it happens. But what stops this situation from even arising in the first place?
We shouldn’t need this nail polish to remind us that sexual assaults are one of the most prevalent reports to campus safety offices. We need to be reminded that it starts with the perpetrators, not with the victims. People are not sexual objects. They’re not possessions. You don’t have unlimited access to their bodies. You’re not entitled to anything of theirs. Refusals aren’t a game. A friendly or even flirty conversation isn’t an unspoken agreement to sexual relations.
People everywhere need to realize that this isn’t acceptable. These things scar, and we, as a society need to change to keep these sorts of things from happening. Unfortunately, this won’t happen overnight. It’ll take time and a lot of it. So for now, a new line of nail polish will have to do. But in reality, we don’t need a color changing nail polish, we need an attitude-changing movement.