Readers will recall me writing back in June that perhaps the free market, rather than the government, would provide a solution to the consensual campus sex conundrum:
Ultimately, I'm counting on the free market to work its magic and provide a sensible and convenient method of demonstrating mutual consent. Several writers have suggested an iPhone app that allows users to clearly consent to sex—maybe they would have to input a password and then touch phones, or something?—would do the trick.
Consensual sex? There's an app for that. One day soon. Hopefully.
I am pleased to announce that the day is today. The developers of Good2Go have released their app on Google Play and for Apple products.
I was able to test out the app, which is remarkably well-conceived. When people want to have sex, they can use the app to make sure all parties have consented. The website explains more fully how this works in practice:
- Are the two of you interested in sexual activity?
- What is your partner's level of sobriety?
- Partner's identity is verified with phone number and password.
- You are Good2Go if affirmative consent is given and your partner is not incapacitated.
- Good2Go provides privacy, facilitates communication, and reduces unwanted encounters and assaults.
Note that the app prompts users to verify their level of intoxication. There are four options: "Sober," "Mildly Intoxicated," "Intoxicated But Good2Go," or "Pretty Wasted." If the user selects the last of these options, he or she is told by the app that consent is not possible.
Some might wonder, what's to prevent people from lying? The creators have anticipated that issue and address it here. Their perspective is that if someone intends to lie, it's no different from lying with or without the app. At worst, the app would simply have no effect in that case. More optimistically, the app could deter liars by setting up another hoop for them to jump through.
Lee Ann Allman, president of Sandton Technologies, created Good2Go with her husband, Mike. They were inspired to do something about sexual consent after listening to their college-aged children—and their kids' friends—wrestle with the issues.
"We had had ongoing discussions with them and a lot of their friends around issues of affirmative consent," Allman told Reason. "They have seen firsthand how students at their own colleges have been involved in investigations. They have come away from all of this with a lot more confusion and worry and stress about what to do. So out of those discussions, and legislation that has been happening at the federal and state level, we all talked about, well, is there something we can do? In this day and age, one of the logical answers to that is, there ought to be an app for that."
The app is not intended to be legally binding, although it could serve as evidence in an investigation if a dispute arose at a later time. But rather than clearing up matters after-the-fact, Allman is optimistic that the process will proactively reduce assault by clearing up misunderstandings before they happen.
Skeptics might say it's too weird to ask people to use an app before climbing into bed with them. But modern technology is already changing how people find romantic and sexual partners. Nowadays, people use apps like Grindr and Tindr to find sexual partners all the time. Why can't consent work the same way?