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'If someone requires an app to prove legal consent then you shouldn’t be having sex with them'

We need to make consent sexy, writes Filomena Kaguako.

WE LIVE IN a litigious society: a society in which the scales between men and women are significantly unbalanced when it comes to matters of sexual misconduct.

A society that will either promote the ‘believe all women’ rhetoric or on the contrary, perpetuate the idea that all victims of sexual harassment were ‘asking for it’, which completely polarises the issue and doesn’t treat it with the critical thinking or delicacy it requires.

A society where there is an overwhelming degree of uncertainty about how men and women should navigate sexual relationships because the most fundamental practice of what makes sex safe, healthy and legal, seems to be missing: consent.

A mutual agreement

Consent is a mutual agreement between two individuals before sex. To put it simply, when a person gives consent, it means they have freely given someone permission to engage in sexual activity without any feelings of obligation or pressure.

They do so willingly, enthusiastically and not forcibly.  Simple, right? Not always.

Following the #MeToo movement and the global impact this campaign is having on empowering women and other victims of sexual assault to speak about their experiences, a number of consent apps have come to surface. Although consent apps such as SaiSie and WeConsent have been around for quite a while, some of the newer and upcoming apps enter realms that provide legal options such as setting sexual boundaries or sending a cease-and-desist order.

While the options you get are contingent on the app a person decides to use, the premise in which they exist are the same.

A digital contract

Consent apps allow adults to electronically sign for legal consent prior to engaging in sexual activity. A consent app is essentially a digital contract that turns sex into a business transaction instead of the fun and intimate activity it should be.

I personally find the idea of a consent app ludicrous, and whether it holds up in court or not is a different story entirely. But the mere fact that these apps exist speak to a bigger issue.

It speaks to how much uncertainty lies between men and women about giving and receiving affirmative consent. We exist in a sexual culture that’s been predicated on non-verbal cues and ‘implied’ consent for so long that the dialogue surrounding what constitutes as consent or what falls under the umbrella of sexual misconduct is becoming more and more unclear.

A grey area

There is a common misconception among men that the absence of a ‘no’ means ‘yes’ or that sexual interest is equal to sexual consent. While each case is situational, and in some cases the latter might be true. In today’s world, it is not enough to rely on social cues because we are operating in a grey area in an era that is still unsure about what consent is.

It’s quite saddening to me that we as a society have come to a stage where we would rather treat matters of unexplored sexual territory like a business transaction instead of communicating with one another.

I ran two polls on Instagram recently to address these questions. In the first poll, I asked whether participants would use an app to give legal consent before sex. The majority of yes votes were men (20%) and the majority of women voted no (80%).

I did another poll where I asked whether or not people think it is sexy for a man to verbally ask for consent. This time 63% of women voted yes and 37% of men said no. While the sample size was not huge, I think there is a lot to be said for how differently male and female respondents answered.

Healthy discourse

Do men have a problem with verbally asking for consent or do women have a problem asserting a ‘no’? Have we as a society created a landscape in which men and women are so uncomfortable with having a healthy discourse about consent that we would rather risk entering uncharted territory that can cost us a lifetime?

How could something that is so simple in theory can be so difficult is practice? And lastly, is an app even necessary? And if it is, does it fix the root problem?

No matter how you spin it, the hook up culture has a major problem to address, and as a society, we need to address it before things get out of hand – if they haven’t already. We need to unlearn potentially dangerous behaviours that we have become so accustomed to overtime and reframe the terms upon we want to have sex by giving affirmative consent and most importantly, making it sexy.

Make it sexy

The current climate of sexual culture is one that troubles me deeply and until we as a society make a collective effort to understand that in this ever-changing society, the things that were deemed acceptable previously are no longer okay now, the ship will sink deeper.

There is a lot of grey area in how men and women interact in the modern world, but something as important as consent shouldn’t be one of them.

Word to the wise, if it’s not a clear ‘yes’ then it’s a ‘no’ and in regards to the tech side of it, if someone requires an app to prove legal consent before jumping into the sac with them then you shouldn’t be having sex with that person to begin with.

We need to make consent sexy.

Filomena Kaguako is a blogger at, YouTuber and Tedx Speaker 2016.

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