Thanks to the excesses of the #MeToo movement, sexual encounters have morphed into an episode of South Park. In the midst of an otherwise romantic night, gals, you might be asked to create a so-called “consent video” so your understandably petrified partner can cover his behind against any future false accusation leveled against him.
A consent video is exactly what it sounds like: a woman telling a camera lens that she is fully onboard with having sex with so-and-so once the record button is turned off.
And they say romance is dead.
According to a recent article from the Evening Standard, consent videos are becoming a popular trend in the world of hook-ups. Writer Rachel King recalled a recent night she spent with a man she knew fairly well at his London flat. At around 3:30 a.m., while she “sat astride him,” the man grabbed his phone and asked her to make a consent video:
“Could you really quickly just say that you want to have sex with me?” he said, holding the phone out, wide-eyed and earnest, his Voice Notes app open as if he was poised for some kind of chatty red-carpet interview.
“What?” I said, blinking.
“Could you just say that you consent to having sex with me?”
Another women known as “Poppy,” a “friend of a friend” of King’s, had a similar experience with a semi-famous male:
When they arrived in his room … Mr Low Key Famous explained that his contract was very strict and she would need to record a video of herself giving consent. He asked her to state her full name, that she was there of her own accord and that she consented to having sex with him.
“To be honest, it made me feel a bit like a smash-and-dash,” says Poppy. She is, however, clear that apart from that, this the guy was lovely. “He wasn’t pushy about it at all. It was something I wanted to do, and when I spoke to him about it afterwards, he was so nice about it.”
Legally, a consent video would not necessarily give a man blanket coverage cornering an accusation of sexual misconduct, since certain sex acts might not be “covered” in the consent video and consent can be withdrawn at any time, post-consent video included. “Consent is ongoing and can be withdrawn at any time. Therefore, a video may record ‘consent’ but the situation may then change and consent is withdrawn,” Durham University law professor Clare McGlynn told Refinery29. A consent video, though, would be viewed as a piece of evidence, legal experts told the outlet.
But aside from the legal aspects, feminists are not pleased with the idea of consent videos and their “problematic” ramifications.
In the case with Poppy, King complains that the “implication” of a consent video “is that those in a position of power are the ones who need protection, and that’s just not true.”
King, who mocked that “it’s apparently ‘a scary time for young men,’” also emphasized that false accusations just don’t happen, pointing to a popularized hashtag on Twitter as evidence. “In reality, the vitriol that victims of rape and sexual assault are subject to is enough to put anyone off making a false report. If you don’t believe me, check out the #WhyIDidntReport tag on Twitter,” she wrote.
“So what’s the easiest way not to need that consent recording?” King posed, before offering her brilliant solution: “Just don’t rape someone.”
Katie Russell, a spokesperson for Rape Crisis, said the concept of consent videos “is ‘deeply troubling’ and perpetuates the lie that most reports of sexual assault are false.”
Of course, if the hook-up culture were bypassed entirely and sex was not treated as a strictly physical act void of all meaning and feeling (which it’s not; that’s why all this consent stuff is so blurry and fuzzy), then consent videos wouldn’t have to be a norm.