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Undercover Colors is a brand of nail polish that changes its color upon coming into contact with any liquid containing incapacitating agents, such as rohypnol, xanax and GHB, or more commonly known as “date rape drugs.” Invented by a group of male students at North Carolina State University in early 2014, the nail polish has received mixed reception in the blogosphere, with some praising the company’s efforts at preventing sexual assault on campus, while others criticized the product as an ineffective solution to combating rape culture that places the burden of safety on women.
In early 2014, the company Undercover Colors was founded by North Carolina State University undergraduates Tyler Confrey-Maloney, Stephen Gray, Ankesh Madan and Tasso Von Windheim. On January 16th, the domain for the company’s official website UndercoverColors.com was registered, containing links to the company’s social media feeds and a donation page.
On April 15th, the Undercover Colors Facebook page was launched to provide updates and news related to the anti-rape nail polish product. On August 22nd, The Daily Mail reported on On August 24th, the women’s interest blog Jezebel published an article about the nail polish. On August 26th, the pop culture blog Animal New York published an article titled “Date Rape Drug-Detecting Nail Polish Won’t Work,” which speculated that the nail polish would have limited accuracy. On August 26th, political reporter Andrea Grimes posted a tweet joking that it would be difficult to make men wear rape prevention nail polish, which gained over 8,100 favorites and 8,000 retweets in the first 48 hours (shown below).
The same day, Redditor atrain444 posted a sarcastic reaction image macro titled “How the guys who invented a date-rape drug detecting nail polish feel after being attacked by feminists for promoting rape culture” (shown below). In two days, the post gathered more than 3,600 votes (92% upvoted) on the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit.
On August 27th, The Huffington Post published an article criticizing products like Undercover Colors, claiming they “perpetuate rape culture.” The same day, Time published an op-ed blog post writer Soraya Chemaly, which argued that the anti-rape nail polish placed responsibility on women for avoiding rape.
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