Why is There an App for That?

Last month, I heard about an app called 'Good2Go' which describes itself as an app to ensure you have consent for sex and/or are able to consent to sex. It is confusing and bizarre. What you are supposed to do, I think, is tell the app that you want to have sex with someone (I think you are supposed to enter who it is). Then you give your phone to that person and they key in whether they consent, don't consent, or want to talk about it first and give you back the phone. The video for the app shows this happening but I don't understand why you wouldn't be able to communicate to that person on their phone by the app. Anyway, that's the least of the problems here. If the object of your affection consents, you then ask them if they are sober? They key in how much they've had to drink and the app will tell both of you if they are able to consent. Then there is some sort of weird confirmation or registration thing that I don't understand. If all the hurdles are clear, then you are 'Good2Go' and you can get busy.

There are clearly a LOT of problems with this whole idea but my first thought was 'What the hell happened to talking?'. If you need an app to ask someone to have sex, make sure they consent, and make sure they are sober enough to consent, then perhaps you don't have the social skills required to engage in any sort of relationship, sexual or otherwise. And consent is not one simple yes or no question. Consent is actually about constantly being in tune with and checking in with the person you are with to make sure they are into it, turned on, physically comfortable, and having fun. The app says all over it that consent has to be ongoing and can be withdrawn at any time but the very existence of this stupid thing really negates that idea. If you said you were Good2Go, doesn't that mean that everything that happens after that is perfectly fine? If consent can be withdrawn at any time, what use does the app serve in the first place. People complain that the idea of asking for consent on a ongoing basis is unnatural and legalistic. If you are of that opinion, then this certainly doesn't help - this is about as unnatural and legalistic as you can get. A real conversation about consent simply does not happen this way. It's about talking about what you would like to do, finding out what the person you're with is into, agreeing on the stuff you want to do, and then paying attention and noticing if any of you seems uncomfortable, not into it, hesitant or anything other that totally turned on and into it. Very rarely does a consensual sexual act sounds like 'I would like to have sex with you, do you consent to that?' 'Yes, I consent to have sex with you.' It is usually totally hot, more things like 'I really want to kiss your lips right now.' 'I want to put my hand in your panties and see how wet you are.' 'What makes you hot? Tell me what turns you on? What do you want me to do to you?' These are the kinds of things people really say during sex and those are real examples of asking for consent. As long as the response is heard and respected, that's consensual sex. It's not one question, it's a lot of things and it's supposed to be, and often is, an organic part of a sexual encounter.

We have created this bizarre concept that sex is about getting something from someone. All you have to do is make sure that you had permission to take that thing and everything's okay. This is what we seem to be teaching our young people about sex. 'Be sure you have permission.' 'Always get consent'. Yes, it's important, actually vital, to have consent. But it's not about just getting what you want and making sure the other person said yes some how. It's about having a mutual interaction - knowing what they want and ensuring that all parties are getting what they want out of it. It's an ongoing, engaged, relational thing, not a case of yes you can have it or no you can't.

We have so much technology that allows us to communicate with each other. If we actually think that clicking a button on a smartphone app is the right, or sufficient way to invite someone into an intimate sexual encounter, then our technology isn't helping us communicate at all. Perhaps it's make us less able to actually talk to each other.