Since the new Undercover Colors nail polish first came into the spotlight a couple weeks ago, there has been a great deal of backlash against the product, which many believe may prove to be more problematic to the discourse on rape than it is beneficial.


Created by four male undergraduate students at North Carolina State University, Undercover Colors nail polish was designed as an effort to defend women by changing colors upon coming into contact with date rape drugs, including Rohypnol, Xanax, and GHB.


Critics widely condemn the polish as just another way potential victims are held responsible for rape prevention and sexual assault, as opposed to perpetrators of these crimes. However, while Undercover Colors by no means serves as an overall solution to the epidemic of rape in our society, it is important to consider if having one more item on the market that can potentially prevent rape crimes is really something to be censured.


Most critics’ observations of Undercover Colors are entirely legitimate, such as the fact that the that the product does little to help male victims of sexual assault and that the number of rapes that occur as a result of getting slipped a rape drug is not nearly as high as the number that occur in other situations.


Moroever, there is the larger concern that a product like Undercover Colors adds to the mentality surrounding rape culture today, in which women are seen as responsible for preventing rape, and are continuously given advice and tools to protect themselves, which in turn creates an “ever-growing checklist” of things that women are blamed for not having done, to protect themselves from becoming a victim of a sexual crime.


The question, however, is whether the validity of these points provide enough support for the claim that Undercover Colors does more harm than good. Is a preventative measure which does not have the capacity to save all potential victims of rape, be used to potentially save even some?


Moreover, in regards to rape culture and how Undercover Colors plays into the mentality surrounding victim-blaming, is it logical to claim that giving women one more tool to protect themselves essentially gives society one more way of taking the blame off potential perpetrators of sexual crimes? Does this go to say that individuals who purchase security systems for their homes in an effort to protect themselves and their families are essentially sending the message that anybody who does not invest in a security system is to blame if their home is invaded? Of course this is not the case, and the existence of preventative measures in the context of any crime never means a perpetrator of a crime should be relieved of blame.


The fact of the matter is that maybe the issue with the discourse on rape is not products like Undercover Colors but rather it is the mentality that has pushed us so far as to turn down these potential solutions, for fear of sending the wrong message about who is to blame; a mentality that is  so skewed, that it would risk leaving women defenseless lest these tools be used as ammunition against all those women who do not take every preventative measure available.


Regardless of whether or not products like this exist, the mentality surrounding rape and sexual assault remains one which automatically seeks to find all the mistakes the victim made as opposed to looking at the only mistake that matters: the actual assault. Unfortunately, this is a problem that has no easy fix,but as we attempt to change the way society views rape and blame, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that behind the discourse are actual lives, and a product that can protect even one of those lives is certainly worth considering.


How do you feel about Undercover Colors nail polish? Do you think the product is ultimately more harmful or helpful? Comment below to share your thoughts or tweet me @tamarahoumi