With the beginning of the school year in our midst, college students everywhere are meeting new friends or reconnecting with old ones. But before the dreaded class syllabi are passed out by their professors, parties and get-togethers will probably be thrown in a “one-last-hurrah” fashion to celebrate the end of summer.
And if you’re wondering if there’s an app for those college parties… well, there is.
We-consent has released 4 apps looking to change the context around sexual consent and constantly remind users that discussion about consent and expectations comes first. One of them, called Party-Pass is specific for parties, prompting party guests to pledge not to engage in sexual relations without explicit discussion with a potential sexual partner.
The main app, We-Consent, has each party record a message of their verbal consent to having sex with their partner; if needed, the app also allows for either partner to record revoked consent. What-About-No allows a partner to record a “no” message to send to a partner who does not respect consent The final app in the suite, I’ve-Been-Violated, allows assault victims to tell their story and give to the authorities.
Among other apps that seek to do the same are Good2Go, WantMe?, and Yes to Sex.
Discussions about consent are essential and it’s awesome that app-developers, who create technology for everyday use, realize that these types of conversations should be normalized.
But what happens when one person changes their mind even after recording consent on one of these apps? What if the situation becomes dangerous?
Consent does not equal “there’s an app for that”.
“No” means “no” even if you previously said “yes”, but this app records that prior “yes”. And the reality of the situation is that you’re probably not going to reach for your phone and open an app to record yourself taking back your consent.
And while it’s unclear what place the app would have in court, the idea that the app can potentially be used against rape victims, is taking a step back in improving campus and community safety. By allowing perpetrators to have recorded evidence of a victim’s consent, even if he or she later took their consent back, we make it easier for a perpetrator to get away with his or her actions (Can you imagine?? “She gave consent on this app, so I didn’t stop”).
These apps are often said to be designed to avoid miscommunication, confusion and “life-ruining lawsuits”. But rape is not miscommunication. Rape is not confusion. Fake allegations of sexual assault are extremely rare.
Consent given through an app gives the notion that it’s a one-and-done thing. Consent should be ongoing dialogue, and anyone should be able to change their mind and take back consent at any time. If you change your mind during sex, you shouldn’t have to pull out your phone to communicate “no” to your partner.
With reports and cases of sexual assault on college campuses and workplaces becoming more prevalent, it’s clear that rape prevention is a more complicated issue than we think. And there’s definitely no app for that.
Maddie is a recent graduate of Loyola University Chicago with degrees in Psychology and Advertising/Public Relations. She works as the marketing assistant for the Catharsis Productions Marketing Department.