What’s better at getting the mood started than throwing your smartphone into your partner’s face? We’re not talking about foreplay, but an app created to record your sexual partner’s—or partners’—voices stating their agreement to join you in some adult naptime.

 

This is exactly what the app We-Consent aims to do: to record “a mutual ‘yes’ available only to law enforcement, upon judicial order, or as evidence in a college or university sexual assault disciplinary proceeding.” We-Consent records with both audio and video the names of the partners, and asks on behalf of the owner to the other partner if sexual relations are desired.

 

There is no question that the app is a clear and direct way of making sure both or all partners consent before doing the deed, but is it a positive way to demote rape culture and promote a healthy and safe sexual relationship?

 

The truth is, the new app, created by an American businessman, is complete overkill and perhaps even mocking the efforts of organizations like Planned Parenthood, U of T’s SEC and We Give Consent, a petition to introduce consent into Ontario schools’ sexual education curriculum.

 

We-Consent says its purpose is to “help trigger discussion” and create “trust” between its users, but its very existence proves that it believes people are incapable of both these things. Are we really not able to move away from rape culture and towards consent culture?

 

According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, two-thirds of the Canadians surveyed did not understand what a consensual sexual relationship means and only one-third of those surveyed agreed that consent was both positive and ongoing (while having sex). Instead of promoting a healthy sexual relationship, the We-Consent app seems to be dealing with the status quo and takes a defensive preventative measure, assuming you may have to use the recording under legal circumstances.

 

If we really want our sexual endeavors to be built on healthy discussion and mutual trust, we shouldn’t be videotaping our partners saying ‘yes.’ Rather, we should be educating our community about sexual consent, thereby generating dialogue between partners.

 

Ontario’s new sex ed curriculum intends to do just this. Moving from a “no means no” to a “yes means yes” mentality, consent is taught by introducing both verbal and nonverbal signals as forms of “agreement or disagreement,” and recognizing “silence … [as] no consent.” It also aims to teach that consent isn’t just for new partners, but including people who have been in long-term relationships as well as married couples.

 

The problem with cases of sexual assault isn’t that the accused should have had recorded their partner say “yes” into a telephone. The problem is that the accused did not know—or did not want to know—how to ‘invite’ sexual intercourse and receive verbal and nonverbal cues from their partner. Asking “Do you want to do this?” or “Is this okay?” or “Do you like this?” won’t kill the mood, but shouting into a phone will.

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