The nail polish that can save
Four male students from the Materials Science & Engineering Department at North Carolina State University have developed a nail polish that changes color when it is dipped into a drink that contains a date rape drug such as Rohypnol, Xanax, and gamma hydroxybutyric acid.
The students, who go by the name Undercover Colors, said on their Facebook page that their goal in developing the polish was to “empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime.”
The new polish is not yet available commercially, but its unique ability to detect drinks that have been spiked is already capturing a lot of attention, and creating some controversy, on campuses across the nation, including Seton Hall.
Christina Witmer, a junior, liked the idea but wasn’t sure how useful it would be. “I think they mean well by creating the nail polish, but I don’t really think that many people are going to be buying it,” she said. “They’ll forget to use it when they’re wearing it.”
In a piece for The Guardian Staff Writer published on Aug. 26, columnist Jessica Valenti wrote that “prevention tips or products that focus on what women do or wear aren’t just ineffective, they leave room for victim-blaming when those steps aren’t taken.”
This viewpoint is shared by other women.
Katie Russell from Rape Crisis England & Wales had written that, “whilst Undercover Color’s initiative is well meaning, on the whole, Rape Crisis does not endorse or promote such a product or anything similar. It implies that it’s the woman’s fault, assumes responsibility on her behalf, and detracts from the real issues that arise from sexual violence.”
Katie Cahalin, a junior at Seton Hall, said that she was interested to see if the nail polish actually works. She said she thinks of the product like a security blanket and way for girls to keep themselves safe without being overly obvious about it.
Undercover Colors continues to raise money and refine its product. They developers have not yet announced a date when the nail polish might become available.
Rosemary Sweigart can be reached at email@example.com.