I must admit, I am one of those people who, after reading an online article, will also read the comments. It is so interesting, and sometimes perplexing, to see how people can read the same article and from it, draw vastly different perspectives. For example, in July, a news story hit the web about four male students who developed a fingernail polish, aptly named, Undercover Colors. The premise behind Undercover Colors is this: “The nail varnish indicates the presence of date rape drugs, such as Rohypnol, Xanax and GHB, by changing colour after being dipped in the drink.” While many applauded this new invention and noted, even more gleefully, that the inventors were males, some saw negative implications. Comments ranged from “How about, instead, we teach our sons not to rape?” to “This can lead to victim blaming.”
In June of this year, the Center for Disease Control issued a report which stated the following:
“Nationally, among students who had dated or gone out with someone in the past year, 13% of females and 7% of males had been hit, slammed into something, or injured with an object or weapon on purpose by someone, a boyfriend or girlfriend. Additionally, 14% of females and 6% of males who had dated someone in the past year had experienced sexual violence such as unwanted kissing or touching or had been physically forced to have sexual intercourse at least once during that year.
The data shows that prevention efforts need to start early: about 1 in 6 females and about 1 in 18 males in ninth grade had experienced sexual dating violence. If we’re going to stop sexual violence perpetration before it starts, we clearly need to start changing social norms, bystander attitudes, and other risk factors before kids reach high school.”
Wherever one might stand on the issue of whether Undercover Colors is a helpful empowerment tool, or whether it wrongly shifts the focus of the problem of sexual dating violence, there is still an urgent need for prevention. Certainly, the church should not be silent in its campaign to stop the objectification of women and to stop violence against women. Tools for prevention do not have to be “either/or”. Instead, can't they be both? We teach our sons not to rape. Yet, we do not neglect to empower our daughters with preventive tools so they won't be left vulnerable. What do you think?