On her journey to becoming the Miss USA 2014 title holder, Nia Sanchez made a remark that outraged leftist feminists and ignited an already fiery debate that continues to divide students in universities across the country.

When asked about how to approach the “horrific epidemic” of sexual assaults on college campuses that had been “swept under the rug for so long,” Sanchez replied in a way that was unexpected by society.

“I believe that more awareness is important so women can learn how to protect themselves,” said Sanchez. “I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself.”

At face value, this statement seems fairly uncontroversial. Confidence and self-defense – values that Sanchez holds high as a fourth degree black belt in taekwondo – are seemingly widely accepted ideals that are looked upon favorably by humanity.

Immediately following Sanchez’s interview, I observed in astonishment a group of well-known feminists taking to social media and bashing her notion of self-empowerment, even calling her a “victim blamer” and making accusations of Sanchez promoting rape culture.

Similar outrage recently ensued after a local group of innovative college students from NC State developed a nail polish that, when mixed with a drink containing date-rape drugs, will change color. I believe this revolutionary nail polish, if mainstreamed, would benefit society by placing fear where it belongs: into the perpetrator of the crime, the rapist, rather than the victims. Inevitably, feminists disagree.

The same individuals that voiced hate towards Nia Sanchez again took to social media in disgruntlement, making statements like, “It’s sad that we have to make an anti-rape nail polish instead of teaching men that it’s not okay to rape someone” and “That’s not the world I want to live in.”

My question to modern feminists who hold these beliefs is as follows: Why do education about the harmfulness of rape and self-defense and women empowerment have to be mutually excusive entities?

I, too, long for a world of societal respect and mutual understanding, and I recognize the importance of education. However, I also understand that as a society we must sometimes set aside our unachievable utopian vision of what we want the world to look like and start addressing the world we live in today – the real world.

According to the Cleveland Rape and Crisis Center, one in four young women will be the victim of rape during her academic career. It seems logical to me that the victims of these heinous and unjust crimes would be in favor of having a little bit more control over their own lives, rather than depending on society to protect them from its inexorable ills.

Unlike many college-aged females, I don’t identify with the word “feminist.” I never really felt that the word applied to me because I never considered myself a victim of society simply because I belonged to a certain gender. I never felt inherently unequal to my male counterparts. Quite frankly, feminism can’t survive without victims, and I refuse to be one.

I believe that the modern feminist movement has fostered a stigma of government dependency and victimhood in itself. Legislating morality and depending on societal sensibility is inefficient. Rather, the best way to empower women is to put the power in their hands.

It is the combination of education and empowerment of victims that provides me hope for the future. According to the 2013 Bureau of Justice Statistics, the estimated annual rate of female rape of sexual assault victimizations in the United States has declined over 50 percent from 1995 to 2010.

Despite this glimmer of optimism, society must continue to face an inconvenient truth about rape. No matter how much we strive to become a more educated and respectable society, deviant people will exist.

If society wants to address the real issue of rape, we will learn to oppose any law that disarms innocent people, continue to educate and advocate for peaceful coexistence and discontinue the suppression of valuable tools, like self-defense, and groundbreaking innovation, like date rape-detecting nail polish.

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I am a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte studying Political Science, Communications, and Journalism. Aside from my role as a staff Opinion section writer for the Niner Times, I find joy in playing an active role in my campus and community. Often I can be found volunteering my time to causes that I am passionate about. After graduation, I plan on pursuing a career in political journalism and libertarian activism in Washington, DC.

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