An Argentinian company released a ‘Consent Condom’ and I have so many questions

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Argentinian company Tulipán has released a condom that requires four hands to open, and CBS has dubbed it a ‘powerful message about consent‘. The condoms are a limited edition, meant to encourage consensual, as well as safe, sex. If you excuse my possibly incorrect Spanish translations, the ad boasts of ‘a pack that only opens if both people want to‘, with the hashtag #PlacerConsentido, that is, #ConsensualPleasure. While I can understand where the ad is coming from, and I do applaud their efforts, in reality the idea is nothing more than a gimmick. This trivialises sexual assaults and also makes consent seem more complicated than it really is. 

Yes means yes and no means no. Simple as that. You shouldn’t need your partner’s help to open a condom to participate in consensual sex. In marketing this condom, the company insinuates that getting consent from a partner is a complicated and long drawn-out process when it can be as simple as reading the signs and, if you’re unsure, asking the simple question of ‘is this okay?’ People can say what they want about mood killers, but if you’re really into the person, asking for consent can be really f*cking sexy. Spin it into your dirty talk for all I care, but making sure your partner is comfortable with what’s going on is not difficult. In a political climate where you can easily be labeled a ‘snowflake’, or ‘SJW’ who takes everything too far the second you mention the importance of sexual assault, it is dangerous to start promoting these gimmicks. As a response to the CBS article, twitter users belittled the effort as a result of feminism and PC culture taken to the extreme. In this way, things like this end up giving explicitly consensual sex a bad reputation and having the opposite effect than intended. I really do appreciate the thought, but it ends up making the crucial fight for consent into nothing but a marketing ploy people can use to make fun of those who participate in real activism.

Moreover, the condom completely misses the mark on what consent truly is and how sexual assaults often work. Firstly, it is essential to remember that consent can be revoked at any and all times during a sexual act, so while both partners consent to the opening of the box, that does not mean they will be okay with everything that follows. Then there’s the fact that someone with predatory behaviours are very unlikely to gravitate towards something like this when there are other types of protection on the market. Furthermore, the use of a condom itself is an important part of consent, especially with the rise of stealthing, which has finally been criminalised as a type of sexual assault in the eyes of the law. When it comes to predatory behaviour and sexual assault, condoms aren’t always on the table at all. In a situation where a person’s boundaries are already disregarded, predators are not very likely to care about their victims sexual health or about their protection from STDs.  By introducing products like this, we allow perpetrators even more wiggle room to get off for their crimes. These condoms will in no way prevent assault, but imagine how a victim would feel in court if the accused could prove the sex was consensual just because of the condom used. The system is already stacked against victims trying to plead their case, and things like this just make it so much worse.

Not to mention, twitter has seen an outrage over how ableist the condom is in assuming that all people have two arms, as the condom would be completely inaccessible to an amputee. These condoms are meant to be distributed in bars, which will effectively prevent disabled people from participating in safe sex if this is the only option they’re provided with.

I have no doubt that this company set out to do a good thing when they released this campaign, but that doesn’t make it right. Consent is an important topic and we cannot let it be trivialised into some capitalist ploy for attention.

 

 

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Opinion Editor 19/20, Features Editor 18/19. Third year BA English Lit student with a passion for intersectional feminism, dogs and iced coffee, currently on a YA in Hong Kong.

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