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Scrolling through Twitter last night, we stumbled upon the following tweet: “‘Consent condom’ requires four hands to open, making powerful statement about consent.”
Well, fair enough, we guess. But what exactly is this statement? That consent culture has led to such a deep panic regarding sexual activity that we need to build new technology to confirm just how deeply untrustworthy we view each other?
For sure it takes two to tango. That’s a given. But why would anyone buy these? It seems to us that the market for the four-handed consent condoms is probably people who A) want to signal their virtue or B) want to exploit the technology in order to conceal their predation.
We can imagine the virtue signalling, male feminist, who thinks so highly of his intentions that he brings these to bed only to coerce a woman into pressing all the right buttons. And given what we’ve learned about #metoo, and how a woman can take an invitation to a man’s apartment, consume alcohol with him, engage in oral sex and additional sex acts, and still claim that the activity was unwanted, or that she felt pressured, there’s absolutely no guarantee that safety of virtue is even remotely protected by four-handed gadgetry.
Recently, over drinks, a friend of ours related a story about her nightmarish Tinder dating experience with a younger, millennial-aged man. He had been schooled in the importance of affirmative consent, and was enthusiastic about showing off just how safe he was:
“He asked, repeatedly, at every step of the process, ‘is this okay? Is this okay?’ Yes! I finally yelled,” she told me. “It’s okay, it’s all okay, that’s why I’m here!” It turned out to be their only encounter. At the end of the date, he was proud of his “enlightened” approach to relations; she was deeply unsatisfied.
It seems to us that this new consent condom is made for him.
Then there are the potential bad actors. Those men who would willingly and deliberately either seduce under duress or force a woman to comply—predators who would abuse this technology in order to abuse actual people. Would a four-handed condom have stopped a serial predator? No. In fact, in the worst case scenario we can think of, it could provide him with physical evidence to assert his “innocence.”
It seems to us that this new consent condom is made for him, too.
What is hard to imagine is a healthy, sane person buying these condoms. Perhaps a magician, who likes to perform slight-of-hand.
The safest thing, of course, is to not take any risks at all, to stay home, to not cross the street, to not talk to anyone, to not open our hearts, or beds, or minds, or front doors.
Consent condoms, sex dolls, sex robots, chastity belts, consent apps, etc.— these technologies that are meant to keep us safe actually put us in grave danger (except for the roofie-detecting nail polish, that’s some pretty cool James Bond type stuff). Instead of letting technology guide our actions, we should know our minds, and think our own thoughts clearly.
When we know what we want, what is right and what is wrong, and are clear on that, we do not leave ourselves open to coercion or to coerce. This is not a fail safe, bad things will still happen to good people. There is no doubt about that. But when human beings trust each other miracles happen. If our default position is that people are untrustworthy then we start treating each other badly.
The point of safety measures is to protect us, and that makes sense in terms of food safety, or properly maintained roads, but when products start protecting us from ourselves, and risks we should willingly take, they interfere with our own ability to make reasonable decisions. In fact, they practically ensure that we will make the wrong ones.