Posts Tagged "sexual assault"

Date Rape, Sexual Assault, and Nail Polish

Dear Kid,

So you know about date-rape and assault on women on college campuses, right? I know you’ve heard the “no means no” lecture. And you’ve probably heard the new “yes means yes” affirmative stance (you actually have to hear a “yes” for it to mean “yes.” Silence isn’t consent.).

But have you heard about the nail polish?

My original title for this post was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. The Jury’s Still Out On This One (extra points if you get the reference) because I don’t yet know what I think about it.

Here’s the story.

Four undergrads at North Carolina State University (three cheers for the undergrads) have created a nail polish that changes color to indicate the presence of date rape drugs (Rohypnol, Xanax, and GammaHydroxybutyric Acid). I did not know how to spell any of those before starting this blog. But that’s not the point. The point is, you get a mani with “Undercover Colors” polish, coyly stir your drink with your finger (or your toe if you got a pedi), and voila! you know whether or not your drink contains ingredients you haven’t ordered.

Ingenious? Absolutely. Controversial? You betcha.

On the plus side it’s a mighty fine piece of innovation and engineering which we should applaud 100%. Did I mention they are undergrads? Quite impressive.

Unlike some of the other gimmicky things that are on the market, it’s tough to be without your digits (if you’ve misplaced your fingers, date rape probably isn’t your biggest problem of the evening).

And it’s pretty clear (to me) that ANYTHING that might prevent even one incident is a good thing.

On the “not so much” side, people are pointing out that new-fangled drugs aren’t used all that frequently in date-rape situations. When there are substance issues, the substance in question is generally alcohol.

Mostly, critics seem concerned that nail polish (of any type) doesn’t really address the issue. Some say it doesn’t really make women safer, it just fools them into thinking they are safer. Certainly, it doesn’t teach students about risky behaviors. It doesn’t substitute for taking actions on our campuses to make all our kids safe (from assault and from accusation) and it doesn’t take the place of having difficult conversations.

As you think about this, it might not seem entirely relevant (what with you being a boy and a Most Good Boy at that). But think about this: would you want your sister wearing Undercover Colors nail polish? Your best friend? Your date? Your daughter?

It gets a little tricky, doesn’t it?

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (more about that in a week or two). My wish for you today is that you can always think about this in the abstract without ever knowing anyone who has faced domestic or campus violence. The statistics say I’m unlikely to get my wish, but I keep hoping.

Love, Mom

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Education Department Investigating Colleges for Sexual Assaults

Dear Kid,

As you may have heard, the US Education Department has announced that it is investigating 55 colleges and universities for their mishandling of sexual abuse complaints.

It’s not news that people are talking about sexual assaults and the culture of rape on campuses. And it’s not news that the EoD is investigating. What is news is that they’ve released the names of the institutions.

Interestingly, they are investigating under Title IX which is best known for mandating that women have equal rights in school athletics. But Title IX is broader than that, prohibiting gender discrimination at all schools that receive federal funds (pretty much every school you can think of). So (theoretically at least) the Department of Education could prohibit an uncooperative school from getting federal aid (including grants and subsidized loans for students). Since this would make colleges VERY unhappy, none of the colleges are fussing about the investigations.

Well, not exactly. It would be political suicide [Like the Massachusetts government website that tweeted: “Sexual assault is always avoidable.” Big time #Fail.] to fuss. However, many of them are scrambling to cover their proverbial hindquarters. One school leader (I heard this on NPR, but since I tuned in part way through the program I missed which school it was) pointed out that it’s not that the number of assaults on their campus is going up so much that now that more attention is being paid more assaults are being reported which is causing their numbers to go up.

And your point exactly?

To be clear:

Sexual assault, sexual discrimination, sexual bullying, sexual intimidation—none of it can be allowed to continue. We must not allow anyone on our college campuses to be victims (yes, men can be victims too although it is much less common).

Colleges and universities must investigate allegations with focus and determination—not to blindly follow accusations, but to make campuses safe. Students must be able to intervene rather than turn a blind eye. Victims must be treated with respect and dignity rather than as the cause of the assault.

It is unconscionable that sexual assault is so common on our campuses. If you know anyone who has been (or who you think might have been) a victim of sexual misconduct, talk to them. Encourage them to step forward. Take them to a clinic if necessary. Go with them to the authorities. If you find yourself in a situation you think might be conducive to sexual misconduct, leave and take your friends with you. Report the situation immediately so that no one else is hurt.

If everyone does the right thing, it will go a long way toward curbing this epidemic.

Love, Mom

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