Guest Post: Anti-Rape Nail Polish and the Ice Bucket Challenge: Symptoms of Similar Problems

Lately I’ve been blessed with a larger community of fellow writers and I’m happy to share my web site as a platform for them to in turn share their work with their own friends and fans and introduce my own readers to other points of view and ideas. This post by Lily Tsui is so thoughtful, insightful, and true to the pace of our lives and the weakness of our attention spans. She gives us a lot to think about, and as a health advocate constantly struggling to establish a lasting empathy for my child’s life-threatening disease, I sincerely appreciate the points she makes. Well done, Lily, thanks for sharing with us!

Anti-Rape Nail Polish and the Ice Bucket Challenge: Symptoms of Similar Problems

by Lily Tsui

My social media circles seem pretty evenly split when it comes to taking sides on both the rape-drug detecting nail polish and the ALS ice bucket challenge. It dawned on me (while thinking about life and things as I drove across town), that there are a lot of parallels.


The nail polish may prevent some cases of sexual assault.
The ice bucket challenge has raised a shit-tonne of money and awareness for ALS.

Both of those things are not really controversial. Of course it’s good if someone detects that their drink has been tampered with. It’s also good that more people are now aware of ALS.

What’s problematic for me, is when we probe a little deeper and we ask, “What kind of world do we live in, where these things are good news?”

The fact that this nail polish has been invented tells us something about how deeply entrenched rape is in our culture. It is so prevalent and seen as so unstoppable that we are now designing cosmetics with additional safety features, because this is seen as more likely to work than actually expecting men to just NOT RAPE PEOPLE.

The fact that it took a viral social media campaign where we can gleefully watch our friends, family, and celebrities dump a bucket of ice water over our heads to get us to give a shit about a debilitating and fatal neurological disease tells us how willfully blind we are to things that are literally killing people. We live in a culture where without some trendy viral campaign or a rainbow parade of ribbons, we are simply unable to care. We cannot take action without prompting; when we take action we believe we are entitled to cookies and attention. What would happen if we took all the energy and time spent on dumping ice over our heads and used it to push our governments to invest in science, research, and healthcare in ways that actually results in better health for all? Then it wouldn’t be just about the disease of the day. It would be about systematic improvements in health for all.

The debate shouldn’t be about the nail polish or the ice bucket challenge as good or bad. They’re both. They are band-aid fixes to seriously broken systems. We need to focus on fixing the systems. Whether you’re pro-nail polish or anti-ice bucket challenge, I urge you, whether it’s sexual violence or disease that’s top of mind for you right now, dig a little deeper. Learn a little more. Do something beyond taking part in short-term quick fixes.

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