It has been a slow summer at the KU Daily Kansan, but sex seems to be the one item–other than basketball–that interests readers, especially when that sex may soon be monitored by “consent apps.”
Amidst a sea of articles on Title IX and campus rape culture, McKenna Hartford’s article on the brave new world of sexual consent stands out. A journalism student, Hartford writes a straightforward piece that would deserve a good grade in a J-School class but that could easily appear in a satirical magazine without anyone thinking it something other than parody.
A consent app, Hartford tells us, gives students a “tool to communicate consent.” It allows students to “advertise” that consent as well. The popular We-Consent app, for instance, records would-be lovers sharing their names, their partner’s name, and the nature of their consent.
“Most college students cannot conceptualize themselves as potential rapists or even as committing a sexual assault,” We-Consent cheerfully tells its potential customers. Once co-eds realize how dangerous are their beaus and male students realize how precarious is their freedom, We-Consent marketers move in for the sale of their “ever-present prop.”
Reads the marketing material: “The We-Consent App is a simple app that records an approximately 20-second video consisting of four brief segments of two people stating their affirmative consent to physical interaction. Unless the application hears the word ‘yes,’ it records nothing. If the facial recognition does not find a face, it records nothing.” Is it any wonder that young males find themselves relying on Viagra?
Jen Brockman, director of KU’s newly formed Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center (ch-ching!), thinks consent apps are a good idea. “Students want to know that they are doing it right,” Brockton told the Daily Kansan. “They’re very concerned about respecting their partners, they don’t want to cause harm.”
Brockman’s worry is that the We-Consent App does not have an “I changed my mind” feature built in. She prefers the PlsPlsMe app, “which has users rank sexual acts from no way to love it.” By the way, if you want to email Brockton at her KU site, she is comfortable with “She/Her/Hers.”
Hartford, however, reassures the reader that the We-Consent people offer a second “What-about-No” app that “plays a video of a police officer communicating the withdrawal of consent and records the partner watching.”
One can just hear Juliet now in the loveless KU hook-up version of Juliet and Romeo, “O gentle Romeo, If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully and in specific detail on this video app, and I will answer thee from ‘no way’ to ‘love it.'”