Two mobile phone applications that supposedly employ innovative uses of text, email and social media, as well as offer users quick and easy access to emergency assistance and dating violence and abuse resources, have won the "Apps Against Abuse Technology Challenge" -- a national competition launched in July 2011 by Vice President Joe Biden and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The "Circle of 6" and "On Watch" apps will be available for free public download beginning in early 2012.
"These winning applications will help young Americans become more empowered to prevent dating violence and sexual assault," said Secretary Sebelius. "Whether quickly checking in with your friends or sending critical information to your support networks, these innovative tools have the potential to protect and save lives."
Fires, muggings, car accidents, and robberies don't merit their own apps, but sexual assault does? Really?
It's not enough that smart phones give users the capability to contact police for any emergency with the press of a button or a verbal command. It's not enough that the Internet is a treasure trove of resources for young women in the event they are raped. Nope. A presidential administration desperate to hold onto, and to mobilize, its single female base is giving us apps that almost certainly will never be utilized by a single sexual assault victim. It is doing this to underscore both how awful the rape epidemic supposedly is and to showcase what it is doing about it.
It's The Music Man all over again, and only Professor Harold Hill can get River City out of the terrible trouble it is in -- terrible trouble that Professor Harold Hill manufactured out of whole cloth.
It is not difficult to predict what will happen with these apps. In a very short time, perhaps a year, they will be forgotten -- added to the massive pile of useless efforts, which we've written about many times, to end the so-called rape "epidemic." And we will still be hearing from the same folks who stand to gain from rape fear that rape is still rampant, and that underreporting is worse than ever.
How about this: let's remind our kids how to place an emergency call with their smart phones in case they are in trouble for any reason, and let's cut out the politicized, gender-divisive, Chicken Little, fear-mongering that makes a mockery of rape and that drives our false rape culture.