Recently, a group of (male) students created a pretty impressive new product: a nail polish that can detect the presence of multiple drugs (the kind used for date-rape) in a drink. When I read about the polish I thought, what a great, discreet means of protection! Not to mention, a useful thing to have on hand (literally) at a frat party.
Apparently, the feminist hive mind disagrees. They reacted to the glossy nail coating with swift violence, rebelling against all common sense. Feminist blogs called the polish everything from a marketing gimmick to a “promotion of rape culture” (Reason covered a lot of the ultra-feminist reactions). In fact, very few feminists (excluding courageous Bertie Brandes of VICE) had anything positive to say about the attempt to help college kids (girls or boys: it’s a clear polish) prevent rape.
The reaction to the nail polish left me terribly confused. What’s wrong with an extra safety measure? It would be great if girls didn’t have to take extra precautions. Just like it would be nice not to have to lock your doors, or explain to your kids about strangers. Unfortunately, that’s not the way the world works.
It seems like feminism has become the ideology of contrarianism. Any idea that challenges this mindset must be staunchly opposed. When did this happen? Wasn’t feminism supposed to be about saying “yes” to women—not saying “no” to everything else?
This leads me to a confession. I once labeled myself a feminist. At my Christian prep school, I took a very strong stance on equality for women. I couldn’t wait to get to university and be surrounded by other empowered women. My first week on campus, I looked up the local feminism club. It was in a tiny room, with lemonade and a sign-in sheet. It seemed pretty low-key.
The cookies and “Welcome Fresh-WO-men!” signs put my 17-year-old self at ease. The culture shock didn’t come until I started to introduce myself to other ladies in the room. First off, the go-to conversation topic centered on outright hatred of any and all men. Then, I was grossly hit on by a number of the organizers. I don’t mean a few flirtatious remarks to boost my ego. I mean the kind of inappropriate comments that these ladies would gladly have stoned a man for saying. I didn’t even need to bring up my political affiliation, just by mentioning what city I moved from brought on the anti-Christian slurs and Republican-bashing. I couldn’t leave the room fast enough. On the way out, I was handed the club’s official t-shirt.
Who were these women? Where were the feminine goddesses of equality I had imagined? I had pictured intellectual discussion on equal responsibility in child rearing, breaking the glass ceiling and advancing in careers that didn’t involve teaching or fashion. I’m not homophobic, but having my privacy physically invaded in the first five minutes of the meeting shattered all my ideals. The strongest feeling in that room was hatred: hatred of men, the current world order, and any ideological disagreement. It was stifling.
I’m not implying each and every feminist is like this or espouses these ideas. But the movement seems to have lapsed into impotent anger instead of hopeful potential. Feminism has contributed hugely to equal rights for women, and also for minorities. It was such a beautiful movement.
The response to the anti-roofie nail shows how far off modern feminism has gotten from that original goal. Now, being pro-women means conforming to a specific ideology, the opposite of what the movement intended. This is why we can’t have nice (or safe) things. Not without misplaced rage over a “rape culture” that the majority of people have a moral opposition to.
Here’s hoping that that feminism can rediscover its pro-women roots and cheer on people combatting misogyny with real world solutions.