The topic of consent is an increasingly complicated one. Recent events such as the #MeToo movement have shed a glaring light on the long history of sexual misconduct and sparked conversations on how to approach consent moving forward.
One proposed solution comes by way of Argentinian company Tulipán, which has created the “consent condom,” CBS News reported this week. As demonstrated in the promotional video, the packaging can only be “unlocked” if two sets of buttons on the box are simultaneously pressed. The idea is that two sets of hands, aka two individuals, must mutually make the decision to open the box.
The consent condom, which is called Placer Consentido (or “permitted pleasure”), is intended to encourage conversations around consent prior to sexual activity. “If they don’t say yes, it means no,” the video text translates. “Consent is the most important thing in sex.” There is no arguing that.
But while on the surface, the consent condom seems well-meaning, it’s also receiving a great deal of criticism. The biggest issue being taken with the product is its narrow definition of consent. The “unlocking” method suggests that if consent is given at the beginning of a sexual act, it’s been given for the entirety of the encounter. When, in reality, an individual may change their mind or become uncomfortable, and has the right to remove themselves from the situation at any point.
we don’t need consent apps, contracts, or condoms. what we need is healthy and effective dialogue about power/violence and to dismantle toxic masculinity, misogyny and other power structures. treat the disease, not the symptoms.
Not to mention, it’s completely possible that someone be forced to “unlock” the box against their will or that a perpetrator forgoes condom use altogether. Teen Vogue also points out that because so many companies have profited from similar, consent-related products in recent years, a major conflict of interest arises.
Essentially, consent is complex. It requires an agreement between all participants to engage in sexual activity, can be withdrawn at any point during sexual activity, and is required with any recurring sexual activity. Producing a flashy product like this just isn’t going to cut it.