Recent statistics have shown that one in five women (and a large number of men) are subject to sexual violence each year. From bras to nail polish, inventors are coming up with ways to deter potential rapists. With bras with GPS tracking, underwear, hairy tights, and devices similar to chastity belts, the technology is seemingly limitless.
The newest of these inventions is an “anti-rape” nail polish by which a woman can detect date rape drugs through swirling her finger in a drink.
While the technology behind these items is interesting and it’s kind of cool that they are available to the public, they’re useless. First, not every woman will wear nail polish, for example, or a physical device. Second, and most important, why should I – as a woman – be on constant lookout for a potential rapist? Why does that responsibility fall on me? Men aren’t held to that standard at all.
Society tells us that most forms of sexual violence are “boys being boys” and that women are merely sex objects. If you don’t believe me, look at any billboard. Chances are, it features a beautiful woman who’s purely at the disposal of a man. While one may argue that some countries have it worse in terms of gender equality, the United States could do much better to perpetuate a culture of consent.
Another issue with “anti-rape” technology is that it leads to victim-blaming, which is unacceptable. It is constantly hinted that women need to “cover up” or else they will be seen as “easy”, which could result in a multitude of consequences (for example, being raped).
Some people would recommend a concealed-carry permit for a firearm. While this might be slightly more effective, it still perpetuates a culture of victim-blaming and places responsibility on the victim instead of the offender.
I am one of the many college-aged women who have been raped. It happend when I was 19 years old, and at 20 I was stalked. The crazy part? I had taken every self-defense class available, trained in three different forms of martial arts (boxing, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) and did everything to protect myself. However, none of this stopped my rapist.
As “luck” would have it, he was an Army Ranger whose service has just ended. When I tried to break free, I couldn’t (despite my martial arts training and being in the best shape of my life at the time).
As for my stalker, the training would have been equally useless had he decided to assault me, as he was about a foot taller than I was and roughly 200 pounds heavier.
So, would nail polish, a fancy bra, or any of these “anti-rape” inventions have prevented the attack? Probably not. And these would probably help very few women.
The only thing close to an anti-rape invention that would have helped would have been a concealed-carry permit and a loaded firearm. But even those aren’t realistic for most people because of economic reasons, personal values, or general discomfort with firearms.
Most people are raped by an acquaintance. Whether you are male, female, or anything in between, your rapist probably isn’t some creepy guy in the bushes in a ninja mask like in the movies. The everyday rapist is a father, frat brother, preacher, student, or some other normal person – maybe even a politician! No matter how you are dressed, how many self-defense classes you take, and whatever new anti-rape inventions you can buy, rape can happen to anyone. A person who rapes others cares about one thing: control. Your appearance, gender, religious standpoint, and any other factor probably don’t interest them.
So, what can you do to help victims of sexually based crimes like rape, stalking, and domestic violence?
First, write your state’s representatives and press them to write and enact laws to help survivors of sex crimes and impose harsher penalties on rapists. Few rapists are caught, and some counselors (mine included) actually dissuade survivors from testifying in court or pressing charges since those charges are likely to get dropped.
Another step you can take is to support an organization that helps survivors of sexual abuse, such as RAINN.
Third, teach your sons and daughters about consent. No matter how intoxicated someone is or how much you think you owe them something, “no means no” in any circumstance. If that is violated (or if the person is not in a position to consent), it’s rape.
While anti-rape inventions are developed by people whose heart is probably in the right place, they simply don’t make that much of a difference. If you want to make a difference, do everyone a favor and teach your kids about consent, and put pressure on state and national legislators to enact tougher laws. The best part? Both of these are free!
If you want to make a difference in another way, donate to an organization like RAINN or the Joyful Heart Foundation.