As movements like #TimesUp and #MeToo are making a breakthrough in 2018, women from all over the world who have been assaulted in one way or another by people in power are taking a step forward to tell their stories. But with every positive step ahead, there is always something wiping out the footprints from behind. With more than 120 renowned celebrities of Hollywood like Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Andrew Duncan, Morgan Spurlock, Ben Affleck and many more being accused of sexual misconduct in 2017, the inclusion of the latest accusations against actor James Franco and comedian Aziz Ansari in 2018 have come to rattle everyone’s cage.
Hence, I believe we can all agree upon the fact that consent makes a difference. Consent is not a nicety; it is a basic human right. Consent must be enthusiastic, it must be vocal, and it must be specific.
But then comes the possible creation of a controversial new software that is “hoping to take any element of question out of sexual encounters”. LegalFling wills to generate legally-binding contracts for consensual sex. According to its website, the app was founded by the Dutch legal startup LegalThings, which is under the charge of three male founders and assisted by an 87% male crew (how ironic). LegalFling is on the lookout for more attention and sponsors to make its development a reality and is also in anticipation of application store approval.
Legal Fling’s website states that it is the “first blockchain based app to verify explicit consent before having sex”. By “the transaction hash only is stored and timestamped in the blockchain”, it means that the application uses the contract stored on the blockchain to allow its users to specify consent. It further states that the contracts could be personalized by adding choices like having a catalog of sexual do’s and don’ts as well as protections for shared photos and videos. The contract could also specify whether explicit language can be made use of, whether protection should be used, and a certain warranty that potential partners are free of STD and “revenge porn”. Any leaking of material of any kind from LegalFling is a breach of contract and Legalfing states that it can be taken to court.
The application claims that “the legally-binding contracts implements penalty clauses”, as in stop and abstain note for users that are found to be leaking materials, like sensual photos or videos, which would help users “litigate offenses through court”. However, it does also asserts that this “hopefully” would not be something done by users. The firm has also specified that they are working on a method for LegalFling users that would help them “shout a quick notice for giving consent” to an “Alexa-like device”, which automatically begs the question why you would ever need to do such a thing when you could just say it to the other person present there with you?
Australian startup nominal heads, including many legal activists, have stepped to the fore to say that this concept is certainly a horrible and “insanely crazy” one. They straightforwardly condemn Dutch startup’s crack of using blockchain expertise to completely transform the meaning of sexual consent by means of smart contracts. In addition, they exclaim that it is “morally wrong” and definitely not something originators should be bringing the technology into play for.
On the LegalFling’s website, a spokesman said, “Sex should be fun and safe but nowadays, a lot of things can go wrong.”
Chief executive of LegalFling, Rick Schmitz, also said in a statement recently, “Asking someone to sign a contract before having sex is a little uncomfortable. With LegalFling, a simple swipe to consent is enough to legally justify the fling.”
Whoever is trying to justify or further suggest that using smart contracts for consenting sex is even a little bit of a good idea, they most definitely are not familiar with the worth of sex, consent, contracts, or are simply rape apologists. For a better word, they do not get what it even means to be smart.
What if someone changes their mind midway? What happens then?
Sex is not an all or nothing (dualistic) activity and this is certainly not how consent works. Consent can be granted, but it can also be withdrawn at any moment.
Straight men are just so opposed to putting in even the smallest bit of effort to find out whether a woman wants to have sex or not that they have just gone and about and created a “legally-binding consent” application. Aside from that revolting fact, there are too many fundamental technical complications to count with the probable concept of LegalFling and that also, even without focusing on the foremost problem of respect for both parties. Just the sole idea that consent can’t be withdrawn after it has already been “given” is extremely problematic. Hence, an app that shows that consent was specified at one point would defend people from accusations being made against them from partners who decided to change their mind after the contract was signed.
LegalFling is not a raised area where you can just communicate consent. It is a bullshit excuse or attempt at a legal vindication if ever accused of sexual assault. It is strong-arming masquerading as consent.
If you ask me, LegalFling just straight-up sounds like a dire episode of Black Mirror in the making.