real life

The "rape-prevention" app that's all about protecting rapists.

‘We Consent’ has hit the market in a tech-solution to rape culture among young people today. And it’s a bloody outrage.

Hot off the press today: an ‘anti-rape’ app for your smart phone.

At first, the idea is genius: using the omnipresent smart phone to protect yourself against danger. Is it a loud alarm you can set off if you feel in danger? Maybe a panic button that shoots off a ‘send help’ text message to your friends or family? Or a phone call directly to the police?

Sadly, it’s none of the above.

‘We Consent’ is a new application that instructs the user to record their potential sexual partner in a 20-second video consenting to sexual relations. Notably, they must say the word ‘yes’, otherwise the phone will encourage both people not to proceed.

One word, to solidify their involvement. (I don’t know about you, but jumping into bed with someone usually involves a little more than just saying, ‘yes’…)

It would be easy to explore the lighter side of this situation, pointing out that an iPhone can’t do much (read: anything) to prevent or discourage physical interaction. It could almost be a joke, expecting two people in the heat of the moment to stop, fix their lipstick, straighten their tie, and make a stony-faced confession on video that yes please, they would like to shag you, thanks.

But as a young female with an obligation to other young females and males who could one day potentially find themselves in an incredibly dangerous situation, where the possibility of rape is present, I need to say this instead: THIS APP IS OUTRAGEOUS.

Ignorant at best, dangerous at worst, We Consent is communicating to its users that rape is a simple misunderstanding – not a violent crime.

The We Consent website states that,

“Sexual encounters are emotional and muddled enough, without the added pressure of ‘what are the rules going to be tomorrow?’

One always has the ability to change one’s mind about what the event means: even after the encounter.”

We Consent official website

First things first, We Consent: the rules have, and always will be, the same. Sex without consent is rape. That’s not emotional, or muddled – it’s really simple. And that fact remains the same regardless of whether one or both partners are drunk, high, dressed promiscuously, a virgin, or any other excuse for why consent was not given… or needed.

The more We Consent explains the purpose of their app, the more sinister their intentions are revealed to be.

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On their website, We Consent instructs that, “We Consent takes less than 20 seconds to use and creates a seven year encrypted record of a mutual “yes” available only to law enforcement, upon judicial order, or as evidence in a college or university sexual assault disciplinary proceeding.”

This is not a rape prevention app. This is a technical tool to assist people facing criminal charges pertaining to sexual assault to be acquitted.

What exactly does We Consent elect this app with do, if the response to sex ‘no’? Will it alert the authorities, or raise an alarm, or photograph the individual? Nope, all it claims to do is to act as a “…tool to put that conversation front and center. There is no other way for social norms to change.”  How remarkable – and very sad – that someone, somewhere in the world, truly believes that our culture of rape is only able to be fixed by a video of yourself confessing that yes, indeed, this person you’re about to have sex with is NOT a rapist.

The fact this company have tried to connect our ever-present smart phones and personal safety is promising. Opening up the conversation between two people before sex regarding their intentions is great, too. It’s even encouraging that rape is being acknowledged as an worryingly frequent crime among young people, and especially on campus.

But what is not OK to spread the message that rape is a two-way street of attack and consent. Nor can it be simplified to a 20-second video of saying ‘yes’ when someone asks you if you want to have sex with them. If you feel like you need to protect your future actions by asking your partner to ensure you the act is consensual, then something is not right.

To finish up, let’s end on the words of the app’s designer himself, Michael Lissack. When asked who the app is targeted at, he explained it is American athletes who have become fraught in numerous recent sexual scandals.

He said: “Who seems to be mostly involved with scandals? Athletic teams and fraternities.'”

‘We Consent’ has been designed NOT to prevent the victim from attack, but to prevent the attacker from being charged.

Protecting the privileged white male, yet again. What a way to make money, Mr Lissack.

You might also be interested in:

She asked him to stop, and he kept going. But a court just decided it wasn’t rape.

Rosie Batty launches a new app for young women to help prevent violence.

“Dear sex attacker. You will not win.” A powerful letter from a sexual assault victim.

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