**TW: discussion of rape
1) I don’t even wear nail polish, nor does every woman, so this would be useless to some. That said, I see it as a useful tool for some who choose to use it, and kind of a clever one, too. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. I have no personal value judgment to assign to a simple tool. That said, there are some problems that we need to talk about.
2) I’ve heard a lot of “well, it’s about personal responsibility and an extra step to insure one’s personal safety”. If you ask a room full of women the steps they take to avoid rape/assault on a daily basis, you guys would probably be shocked at just how aware we are, and how completely fucked up it is that we have to go out of our way to avoid certain places/things because of that possibility. So spare me the lectures on how our safety is our “personal responsibility”. We know. More than guys EVER will.
3) Where things tend to get squicky and why some women are bugged out by this nail polish thing: when we have tools like the nail polish, or self defense knowledge, or we went out of our way to avoid a weird situation and we still get assaulted, the problem is the victim blaming that starts when it becomes all about “well, you had the nail polish”, or “you must not have hit him hard enough”, or “well you still must have worn something/done something to provoke it”. The issue that people are having with these things is not that they aren’t useful, but that they become another victim blaming cudgel to hold over our heads for those prone to that sort of shit.
4) The problems I am seeing with some things being said (mostly by men) are the assumptions that we should “use these things, because bad people exist and you can’t magically stop people from raping”. That may be true to an extent, but the determinism of that statement is problematic. Yes, we can wear the nail polish, but how about we start asking “why are people bad?” Why do we accept this? The thing is, our attitudes about rape in this country are not just the attitudes of “bad people”. They are a cultural undercurrent that present themselves from people who you probably wouldn’t consider “bad people”.
We have a nation full of young men who don’t actually know what consent is. We have a media full of people who talk about the poor boys who raped a girl and how this changes their lives. We have a judicial system that puts rape victims on trial for their fashion choices and accuses CHILDREN of wearing makeup and “leading boys on” who end up gang raping her. This isn’t a “bad people” problem. This is a cultural problem. We have allowed rape culture to be normalized. We don’t bat an eye when women are demonized for their own assault. That’s fucked up. And it’s actually something we can at least attempt to fix, instead of just shrugging our shoulders and assigning it to bad people.
4a. Again, let me address the “bad people” thing. We do a disservice to everyone if we try to make it a “bad people” versus “good people” thing. Because thinking rape is something perpetuated only by horrible monsters seeking to destroy women for fun is ignoring the fact that sometimes it is as simple as a college kid who’s been drinking who doesn’t understand consent because no one has ever actually taught him what that means. Or sometimes it’s your drinking buddy who’s been going out with this girl for 2 months and one night things just get out of hand because she’s tired and he’s not and he thinks being in a relationship means you’re entitled to sex on demand. MOST RAPES ARE PERPETUATED BY SOMEONE THE WOMAN KNOWS.
There are a lot of fucked up things being taught to men in our society. To ALL men. And to think that there is some dividing line that separates the monsters from the decent people is to ignore the very real fact that you probably know a “good person” who has raped someone and didn’t realize that’s what they were doing, because our culture taught them some really screwed up ideas about women and sex and men’s right to both of them.
tl;dr version: Defensive tools are helpful, but don’t blame women if they don’t work. Work to teach mean what consent means, to respect women and our boundaries, and to stop rape culture.