Will This New “Sex App” Clear Up College Sexual Assaults?

Tech is meant to take the gray out of "he said, she said" in college sexual assaults.

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In his eloquent paean last week to watching porn, Daily News scold Stu Bykofsky equated the practice to stopping by the watercooler to chat with a colleague. There’s one essential way, at least, in which the two acts differ: One is solitary, and one is not. Stu cited the statistic that 29 percent of Americans say watching porn is morally acceptable.

I’m surprised the number’s that low. I don’t give a royal hoot who watches porn, though I’d prefer public officials not be doing so while they’re on the job. But what’s being called “Porngate” reminded me of a handy app that’s being pushed as the answer to the current “crisis” of sexual assault on college campuses. The app, Good2Go, takes the mushy gray out of “He said, she said” college sexual assault accusations by reducing the question of consent to a Wawa touchscreen condiment choice.

The app, developed by Sandtron Technologies, was released hot on the heels of a new law that requires California college campuses to adhere to a “Yes means yes” positive consent standard, to alleviate the problem of college sexual assaults. In other words, the onus is no longer on the young lady to prove she said no to sex; the young man (to use the usual, though certainly not the only, gender breakdown) must prove she said yes. According to the law:

Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.

This is all well and good, but some people aren’t entirely comfortable admitting that they’re hot to trot, or discussing sex at all — even with someone they’re eager to have it with. So Good2Go walks prospective hookup couples through a series of screens meant to clarify the thorny issue of consent. You simply hand your phone to your perhaps-partner. “Are we Good2Go?” the prompt inquires, to which said partner indicates yes or no.

But wait!

The partner is also prompted to record his or her level of drug or alcohol intoxication on the Good2Go four-point scale:

  • “sober”
  • “mildly intoxicated”
  • “intoxicated but Good2Go”
  • or “pretty wasted.”

Should your partner check off “pretty wasted,” the app warns that he or she is too far gone for sex, and instructs the partner to give you back your phone so you can move on to more sentient pickings. Should the partner indicate a lesser level of inebriation, the app asks for the partner’s phone number and texts a “confirmation code” to that number, to prove said partner’s identity. (Phones can be stolen, after all.)

“Only then,” explains a Business Insider story on the app, “is the consent considered legitimate.” And hey — you’re Good2Go! (Clearly, this app is only for the young; those my age would at this point in the process have forgotten what they came here for.)

There are some issues of security involved with using Good2GO; as Amanda Hess wrote in Slate last week, the app records every single agreement for sex that it logs, to be available to court officers in the event of a sexual-assault dispute — a sort of master database of getting down, if you will.

Colleges are pushing the use of the app to students, in hopes it will help resolve the morass — and sometimes circus — that investigations of sexual assaults on colleges have become under the Obama administration’s well-meaning but hopelessly convoluted crackdown. The bigger issue, though, is what the app’s inventor, Lee Ann Allman, a middle-aged mom of college-age kids, says it’s intended to address. Her children’s generation, Allman told Hess, is “so used to having technology that helps them with issues in their lives.” And, she added, they “don’t know how they should be approaching somebody they’re interested in.”

Funny; we had that same problem back in the day. But we bought our clothes in stores where we interacted, face-to-face, with clerks and cashiers; we lived in families that communicated with voices and facial expressions instead of keyboards; we didn’t order our groceries and our movies and our books and our stamps online. We waited in queues. We answered our telephones at work instead of hiding behind answering machines. In elevators, we smiled and made small talk with strangers. We hung around at watercoolers. I know, I know; I’m hopelessly old-fashioned. I’m old. Technology has made our lives better in so many ways.

But not this one. Not when it has reduced the fragile, fumbling courtship dance to the level of ordering takeout — so long as you’re not too wasted. It may be safe. But it doesn’t hold out much hope for the human condition.

Follow @SandyHingston on Twitter.