#BBCtrending: Backlash against nail polish to detect 'rape drug'

woman painting nails

Four male college students at the North Carolina State University are developing a new kind of nail polish that changes colour in the presence of date-rape drugs, like GHB and Rohypnol.

The goal of their company, Undercover Colors, is "to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves," specifically against sexual assault, they said on their Facebook Page.

"With our nail polish, any woman will be empowered to discreetly ensure her safety by simply stirring her drink with her finger," they said. "If her nail polish changes colour, she'll know that something is wrong."

Undercover Colors initially garnered praise, with hundreds of thousands of likes and shares across Facebook and Twitter.

"There are already bulky devices that can be used to test drinks for date rape drugs," writes Adam Clark Estes for Gizmodo .

"But it's not necessarily easy to carry these things around on a night out and whip them out at bars."

However, the inevitable internet backlash came from a surprising source - anti-rape advocates.

Tweet: Rape prevention nail polish sounds like a great idea but I'm not sure how you're going to get men to wear it.  (@andreagrimes)

"I'm appreciative that young men like want to curb sexual assault, but anything that puts the onus on women to 'discreetly' keep from being raped misses the point," writes Jessica Valenti for the Guardian.

"We should be trying to stop rape, not just individually avoid it."

Valenti argues that promoting products like Undercover Colors is not only ineffective, but also can lead to "victim-blaming," if women don't take all the suggested precautions.

Tweet: How about women don't have to wear a special nail polish and dunk thier fingers in every cocktail not to get raped (@lindywest)

"Women are already expected to work hard to prevent themselves from becoming the victims of sexual assault," writes Tara Culp-Ressler for Think Progress.

"Now, remembering to put on anti-rape nail polish and discreetly slip a finger into each drink might be added to that ever-growing checklist-something that actually reinforces a pervasive rape culture in our society."

Additionally, date-rape drugs are not necessarily a factor in the majority of sexual assaults as much as alcohol.

Tweet: This new nail polish that can detect the date rape drug is great if you think women aren't trying hard enough not to get raped.  (@kellyoxford)

Writing for Jezebel, Erin Gloria Ryan says that improving education around sexual assault could prove more beneficial than colour-changing manicures.

"Teach men that having sex with women too incapacitated to consent is rape," she writes.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending

More on This Story

Best of BBC Trending

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FordFactory facelift

    Watch as the plant that makes Ford's legendary F-150 undergoes a total overhaul

Programmes

  • A prosthetic legClick Watch

    How motion capture technology is being used to design bespoke prosthetics

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.