Great News for Sexual Assault Activists and a Pointless ‘Consent’ App

Cell phone in pocket.

Last week was a big week for sexual assault news, awareness and gimmicks. Let’s start with the newsy gimmick.

You may have heard about the “new consent app” Good2Go. The app is supposed to help two consenting adults have consensual sex by simply putting some info into their iPhones before having sex. Sounds… weird.

This is the basic gist of the app: Once you’ve decided you want to have sex with someone, give your phone to the lucky so-and-so, and ask him or her to launch the Good2Go app. The app will ask your potential partner if he or she is Good2Go. The person can answer “No, Thanks,” “Yes, But… We Need To Talk,” or “I’m Good2Go.”

If the person says no, a screen pops up that says “Remember! No Means No! Only Yes Means Yes, BUT Can Be Changed At Anytime!” If the person chooses the second option, the app pauses so the couple can talk. If the person chooses yes, they are directed to another series of questions. This set asks the person how intoxicated he or she is. If a person answers “Pretty Wasted” the app informs the person that he or she cannot consent. The other choices lead to a third screen. Slate details how the apps third and fourth screen (I know) work:

“(The third screen) asks the partner if she is an existing Good2Go user or a new one. If she’s a new user, she’s prompted to enter her phone number and a password, confirm that she is 18 years old, and press submit. (Minors are out of luck—the app is only for consenting adults.) Then, she’ll fill out a fourth prompt, which asks her to input a six-digit code that’s just been texted to her own cellphone to verify her identity with that app. (Previous users can just type in their phone number—which serves as their Good2Go username—and password.) Once that level is complete, she returns the phone to its owner, who can view a message explaining the terms of the partner’s consent. (For example, the “Partner is intoxicated but is Good2Go.”) Then, the instigator presses a button marked “Ok,” which reminds him again that yes can be changed to “NO at anytime!”

Oh. My. Gosh. I am not sure what type of consenting adult would rather go through this app than just have a conversation with their partner about sex.

So, why does this app really exist? Is it to help a potential victim? I doubt it. I do think, however, it exists to help someone deny allegations of rape if his or her partner later doesn’t consent. After all, the app does keep a private record of every single “Good2Go” agreement. Each agreement is logged in the app’s system and is connected to each user’s phone numbers and accounts. As Slate points out, “No” answers and “Let’s Talk” answers are not logged. Maybe this app is well intentioned, but to me it just seems gross.

The second bit of news is good and will help bring awareness about sexual assault. Remember that “Yes Means Yes” bill I wrote about in late August? Well, on September 28 it became a law! Jerry Brown, California’s governor, signed the the law that will require universities that get state funds “to use ‘affirmative consent’ for determining whether consent was given by both parties” for sexual consent.

This law is so important because the standard for sexual consent, “no means no,” puts all the responsibility on the victim. After an assault occurs, the victim has to sometimes prove that he or she really did say no.

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Image: Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.