NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has proposed the idea of an app to track consent in sexual situations as a way to combat the prevalence of sexual abuse in Australia and although it’s nice to see the police actually trying to do something about sexual violence, this ain’t it.
The idea has already been implemented in Denmark but if Fuller’s idea comes to fruition, we could see it in NSW too.
Fuller explained the idea to reporters on Wednesday, asserting that he got the concept from the coronavirus tracing apps.
“There is no implied consent. It needs to be positive consent. How do we do that in this day and age? One option is with technology,” Fuller said.
“You can’t walk into a shop at the moment without scanning in. Two years ago I would have said ‘you’re mad, I’m not doing that.”
Fuller’s suggestion comes after NSW police received 14,171 reports of alleged sexual assault in 2019 but only 1,099 were charged and out of that, only a measly 376 were actually found guilty.
Basically, before getting your fucc on, you’d sign a digital agreement, which may not be sexy, but at least means you’re both on the same page.
“People say ‘how unromantic is that’. But think of how many people are looking for friendship and love online – it’s not as though technology and dating are foreign to us,” Fuller argued.
“The conversation around sex and consent seems to be anchored to the ’50s and clearly it isn’t working.”
But let’s be real here, if somebody *wanted* to rape or sexually abuse you, whether or not you signed a digital contract isn’t going to stop them. And I’m not going to shit on Fuller for his idea because even he admitted there would be some challenges.
“I know there are challenges. But this would be a good starting point,” he said.
But as a heterosexual woman who is always on the lookout for something that will make my sexual encounters with men less dangerous, I simply can’t look at this app as anything other than a form of protection for abusers.
The first major red flag I see with this is withdrawn consent. The app doesn’t track your enjoyment and consent throughout the encounter, just the fact that at one point during the night, you did consent.
So what happens if I consent, then when things start to get heated I decide I feel a little sick or simply decide I don’t want to have sex with this person? The contract feels like some sort of obligation because I know if I ever wanted to press charges, this person now has written proof that – at one point – I said yes.
We also need to address the big, drunk elephant in the room here. Alcohol plays a huge part in sexual encounters, and you legally can’t consent to sex if you’re intoxicated. But let’s be real here, get a few drinks into me and I’d probably sign away the soul of my first born child on account of the fact that I’m intoxicated and therefore not thinking straight.
But again: if something happens, your abuser now has hard evidence against you.
There are a million different circumstances in which this app could be misused to further harm victims, including women feeling pressured to sign, or even just having it signed on their behalf only for that evidence to be later used to invalidate their truths. But that’s not my biggest issue here.
The overarching problem I have with this app is that it just should not be this hard. It shouldn’t.
Instead of spending millions of dollars developing an app to record consent, can we simply not teach people – predominantly men – not to sexually assault or rape people?
Much like the entire conversation around sexual assault to begin with, this app shifts the blame back onto the victim and, if anything, empowers abusers.
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.