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I’m not sure authorities understand how consent actually works

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An Australian police commissioner has single-handedly solved every woman’s concerns surrounding safety and sexual violence with one innovative suggestion. A consent app. Why didn’t we think of it before? I don’t quite know the intricacies of such a thing but the general gist is that before you proceed to engage in any hanky panky, you confirm your consent on an app so that it’s there on record. I would laugh at the ridiculousness of it all if my voice wasn’t already hoarse from screaming into the void at all the equally terrible decisions and suggestions authorities have been making in the past week.

I shouldn’t have to tell you why a consent app is a terrible idea and yet here I am. Telling you. Let’s discuss first what it means to give consent, and in this case, sexual consent. Yes on a basic level it means giving permission or agreeing to engage in intimate contact, but it also means doing so enthusiastically and continually in any one situation. The existence of a consent app would raise way more questions beyond “yes or no?” What if a person decides halfway through the act that they no longer want to proceed? Or if someone feels pressured or under duress? Will these nuances be incorporated into such an app and are they factors a court of law would take into consideration? Why has something this serious been relegated to automation as if swiping a tin of baked beans at a self-checkout, when we should be having conversations and making policies that hold the right people accountable?

By people I mean the perpetrators – the majority statistically being men – of sexual harassment and violence, and the legal system that should be making examples of them. It’s bad enough that so often the infuriatingly passive rhetoric is “a woman got raped” rather than “a man raped a woman” but now we’re passing the buck to a function on a smartphone and ultimately back to the women who would be expected to make use of it. All this would do is protect men who could easily brandish their phone to authorities with a hasty “See! She consented!” The idea of an app comes across as a get out clause for men who can’t be bothered to unpack their own learned sense of entitlement and a cop out for authorities who don’t want their courtrooms cluttered with murky assault cases. We need perpetrators of sexual violence to be punished to the full extent and victims of this violence to be taken seriously. I feel like this has all been said a million times before, or am I going crazy?

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