Sexy Sex: An App That Lets You Consent to Sex

So today we are going to the place every lauded publication must one day venture. Today we are going to talk about the beast with two backs — or more, depending on preference; the horizontal tango; the home run. Yes, let us talk about sex … baby.

Before you avert your eyes and shelter your children, don’t worry — your wholesome student newspaper is not about to get too vulgar. We want to actually talk about the bastion of all romance and sensuality — the iPhone app store. Newly introduced, to iOS and android alike, comes Good2Go, developed by Sandton Technologies LLC and Lee Ann Allman.

If you haven’t heard of this up-and-coming application that has been sweeping across the national media, the purpose of the app is twofold: give a simple and direct way to express consent, or lack thereof, for sex — specifically of the intoxicated variety — and also to encourage users to consider the importance of consent.

What could you possibly contest about this sort of program? Sure, it may be lacking a certain element of courtship — as it isn’t exactly wine on the banks of the Italian Riveria — but romance and sex have not gone hand-in-hand for some time. But consent, obviously, is of paramount importance when considering a roll in the hay. So shouldn’t this app be held on a pedestal?

The app’s actual implementation of its mission statement is where the problem arises. You first sign up for the app by providing a phone number and email. The original user then finds a potential partner and hands them the already opened app. They can choose one of three options initially, including “No Thanks,” “Yes but … we need to talk” and “I’m Good2Go.” If they choose the option “I’m Good2Go,” which is also spelled with a 2 for reasons beyond mortal understanding, then you will be presented with another question. So, the app asks coyly, how drunk are you? There are four choices, beginning with sober and ending with “Pretty Wasted.” If you choose “Pretty Wasted,” the app will close shop and register the user as a no because there cannot be consent at that level of intoxication.

The app is right, of course — an intoxicated person is not capable of giving proper consent, and there have been several attempts across America to legally pursue sober individuals who use intoxicated ones for sex, such as California’s new “yes means yes” bill. So, then, what is the problem? The app confuses the issue, even as it tries to simplify and clarify.

This is because consent is not something that can be simplified, especially not by some cheeky app. Of course, we are not suggesting that each party bring a lawyer to their night on the town so they can set the terms for their four-legged fox trot. But this app, whether it means to or not, is acting as a sort of casual contract for users, and this is dangerous. It is adamant that drunk people cannot give consent, but for some reason it only denies consent automatically if the person chooses “Pretty Wasted.” But, also without any explanation, the “Intoxicated but Good2Go” option presents no warning or obstacle to either party. This line in the sand is entirely arbitrary and thus useless. What makes wasted that much different from intoxicated when it comes to consent?

Also by asking someone who is “pretty wasted” to click one of these buttons, you are seeking the same thing that the app attests you cannot get from a drunk person — consent. How are you supposed to trust the self-awareness of the inebriated? The final nail in this app’s virtual coffin is that it does not define what consent means. Do they consent to oral, sex or an array of other possibilities that do not need to be mentioned?

We do not believe this casual contract will ever assist someone who preys on the impaired while perfectly sober, and the day a potential rapists gets off because their victim clicked “Good2Go” on some app is the same day we declare civilization as a failed experiment. It is also unlikely that people will feel justified in taking advantage of someone else simply because they donned this noble app in their pursuit. It is that the app fails so miserably at its own ostensible goal and can lead to miscommunication. By seeking to simplify consent, specifically in the hot button issue of drunken sex, it builds another barrier to communication while it tries to tear an old one down.

We aren’t just trying to pick apart some app that will likely be innocuous because just how little it is used, but it is a problem with the culture surrounding sex as a whole. And casual sex is not the issue here; even as our society becomes more and more obsessed with sex, it remains terrified by it. We get it — sex is surprisingly easier to accomplish than to actually discuss maturely, especially at a young age. But, even at that young age, it demands to be discussed. This isn’t just about the importance of protection. Consent, especially, needs to be drilled into the heads of both men and women.

This goes double for those seeking casual sex. It is too easy for miscommunication to take place and one party walking away feeling taken advantage of. If you are afraid that consent will be rescinded retroactively, get it in writing. And for the love of God, here are some simple and blaringly obvious rules to live by: No means no; consent can be taken away even in the act; and never try to have sex with someone who does not want it as much as you do.

Now was that really so awkward?

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