Fighting Sexual Assault? There's An App For That

Can an app solve the problem of rape culture and sexual assault? Launching today, the Good2Go affirmative consent app is at least a step in the right direction. The new smartphone app makes confirming sexual consent as easy as clicking a button. Yes means yes — and now there's an app for that.

Available for free on both iPhone and Android devices, Good2Go aims to facilitate communication between potential partners; the end goal is to prevent or reduce situations in which one party is uncomfortable, unwilling, or unable to give consent, cutting down on miscommunication, regretted activities, and sexual assault. Here’s how it works:

After you, the initiator, launch the app, hand the phone over to your potential partner. The partner will be asked the question, “Are we Good2Go?” After answering it one of three ways — “No thanks,” “Yes, but we need to talk,” or “I’m Good2Go” — the partner hands the phone back to you, and you conduct yourself accordingly: “No thanks” means there’s no consent, so there’s no hookup; “Yes, but we need to talk” means the partner has some things he or she needs to discuss before going any further; and “I’m Good2Go” means there’s an all-clear — after, that is, the partner inputs a self-assessment of how intoxicated they are. If “Pretty wasted” is selected, the answer to “Are we Good2Go?” automatically switches to “No thanks”; no one can consent if they’re pretty wasted.

If, however, “Sober,” “Mildly intoxicated,” or “Intoxicated but Good2Go” is entered, the app then asks the partner to input his or her phone number — not so it’s stored on the original user’s phone, but so Good2Go can verify the partner’s identity. Once the partner’s identity has been confirmed, go off and have fun!

I think one of the most notable aspects of Good2Go is that it puts the onus on the initiator to confirm, without a doubt, that their partner is in fact good to go. As many have said time and time again, instead of telling people not to get raped or assaulted, we need to teach people not to rape or assault in the first place; by putting the responsibility on the initiator to get consent, Good2Go is effectively taking the "teach people not to rape" path. It’s also worth noting that the app makes a point of reminding users not only that no means no, but moreover, that a “yes” can turn into a “no” at any time. An initial “yes” doesn’t give everyone carte blanche to do whatever they feel like. The app helps open up the line of communication, but it’s up to the users to keep it open — both by speaking up and listening to each other.

Is using the app going to be a little awkward? Probably — “I am interested in getting busy with you, but hang on, can you answer a few questions on this app first?” prior to a hookup isn’t something most people are used to — but better a little awkwardness now than a whole lot of awfulness later. But even more important is this: With widespread use, the “let’s use this app first” dance could move from feeling slightly odd to being the norm. Yes, it depends on a lot of people downloading and using it regularly, which may be a bit of a tall order. But the fact that it exists is a start, and if we can spread the word and get enough people using it, all it can do is help.

Today at 5 p.m. PST, Good2Go developers Sandton Technologies will be rallying peacefully on the steps of Los Angeles’ City Hall in support of California’s affirmative consent bill, SB 967. All it needs to get passed is Governor Brown’s signature, so if you’re in the LA area, it’s a cause worth supporting. Get the lowdown on the event at its Facebook page, and find out more about Good2Go at its home on the web.

Image: John Heil/Flickr