Friday, August 29, 2014

We are not celebrating the anti date rape nail polish - are we?

Again and again we are faced with pragmatic situations. Few weeks ago, i read an article about a nail polish that can detect rape drugs in drinks, it's defined as an anti date rape drugs. As article says "Our goal is to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime," the founders say." http://aplus.com/a/these-4-college-students-have-invented-nail-polish-that-detects-date-rape-drugs

This is a pragmatic situation because we all know in this historical moment where date rapes are happening often, and preventive solutions are much needed, and there's a lot of added value to such invention i have to give credit for - at the same time - such a creation sparks a lot of anger and objection in me. Again, why are we criminalizing the symptom while we spread the disease? 

I will try to be brief in describing why i find the nail polish product problematic yet pragmatic:

1- Investing time in taking measures against rape prevention does not solve the real problem which is: being in a patriarchal society where women are still raped. Where some people still believe that it is ok to harass women, to perform acts of violence against other people's bodies such as rape. Where some people still think it is fine to have sex with other people without their enthusiastic consent. This discourse of prevention through the nail polish, eventhough much more nuanced compared with the other rape preventions discourses from the middle ages that state that women for example should stay at home in order to prevent being raped, still belong to the same category of prevention, it still concentrate on acts done by women and throw on them the responsibility of preventing their rape. It is similar to the same prevention measures taken against harassment, violence, domestic violence, marital rape, and so on. i have previously written a long elaborated satirical blog about sexual harassment prevention titled "not another 5 ways to fight harassment pamphlet" where i argued that harassment pamphlets are counter productive in harassment and rape prevention - you can find blog here http://femcity.blogspot.com/2013/02/not-another-5-ways-to-fight-harassment.html 
2- Nail polish in specific target a certain audience and class of women. Some women do not simply like wearing nail polish, and others might not be able to afford it. Therefore, this falls in a big cycle of privilege where some women have access to prevention while others from other classes or gender identities don't 
3- The use of nail polish as a tool of prevention of rape indicates and reproduce femininity as the only target of rape, simultaneously reproducing feminine women as the only target of rape. Now i am not making here big statements about who use nail polish and who doesn't, men do sometimes and even women with subversive less feminine gender identities might use nail polish as well, but the idea is pushing the thought beyond the visible, in questioning why nail polish and the assumption that all women wear nail polish and the statement made behind it, intentionally or not , that if you want to prevent being raped, you will have to reproduce your feminine role as a woman and assert your femininity by wearing freaking nail polish - otherwise, no rape drugs detection for you. 

These are three brief points of why i find the nail polish anti rape drugs detector  problematic. Here it is important to remind the world that chastity belts have been used since centuries, that never changed anything in how society perceive rape. Also, they never changed the discursive situations in which rape happens. 

The most dangerous part of prevention is the fact that it puts urgent problems such as rape on hold, it gives a sort of comfort to society, that rape is being prevented, thus we can postpone the urgency of dealing with it as a problem.

I have to reiterate my point here, prevention is needed because if such products would help secure the life of one woman, it then have achieved a lot but at the same time, as i stated before, it is not solving the real problem WHICH IS THAT RAPE STILL HAPPEN and we have a very fertile atmosphere in various different societies around the globe that is very receptive to rape, and still mostly shame and blame women for being raped. Our societies are still entrenched and saturated with misogyny that blame women for everything that their bodies go through, from labor, to aging, to sex to harassment to rape. 

So, excuse me for not being part of the people who are celebrating preventions campaigns against rape, because to me this is just part of pending a process of a deeper social deconstruction of what is it to be in a private or a public space as a woman. It is a pending process of deconstructing how our bodies are perceived and what is allowed to be done to them. We need a deeper level of conversation about rape, and in order to reach to that level, we need to first stop victim blaming and all the concepts and discourses that reproduce victim blaming, no matter how useful these products look like. The emergency of the issue of rape, marital rape, date rape cannot be solved with nail polish, it can be solved only by producing a society where men do not rape women, or men. That's how simple it is, and that's how complicated. 




  

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