A Very Special Episode Of Morbid Optimism
Feminism is an ongoing conversation. Sometimes it’s a conversation you have to have with your friends when they catcall. Sometimes it’s tension with a co-worker when you correct how they refer to the pretty woman in the accounting department. Sometimes it’s a shouting match over Thanksgiving dinner.
The most important part of the conversation, though, is really the part you have with yourself.
When I posted a few days ago about the guys who created a fingernail polish that changes color when exposed to date rape drugs, I missed an important fact. Yes, it’s vitally important to have defensive tools, and it’s a score for the home team, at least in the short term. Yes, increased prevalence of products like this will inversely affect the use of date rape drugs.
It still puts the onus of rape prevention on the victim. It still requires women to take an extra step to prevent sexual assault. Worse still, if a woman is poisoned with Rohypnol or GHB, there is now a new layer of accusation: Why didn’t you use the new nail polish stuff? Why didn’t you protect yourself?
This added layer of responsibility (in addition to all the other issues, like trying to weave between ‘dress sexy for my date/the club/cuz I feel like it’ and ‘don’t get attacked on my way to my car’) might serve to further deepen the problem of victim-blaming. It’s good to have in the short term, because rape culture won’t disappear overnight. But it isn’t a long-term solution, and in the process it might set us back a few steps on the road to putting blame where it belongs.
When I wrote the original post, I was excited at the prospect of women having a defense against being poisoned like this. I was looking forward to news reports of rapists caught in the act and beaten ragged by whole bars full of decent people. I neglected to consider the fact that women shouldn’t really have to equip themselves as though for a siege of their personhood.
No woman would forget such a simple fact. This is what it is to be a male feminist. It doesn’t come naturally to us, this awareness. We have to constantly be on guard against falling into incomplete or problematic modes of thought, even when our intentions are good. I’ll try to be better about it in the future.