Sex ≠ online banking

Justine Toh on what the iConsent app shows us about our lack of imagination when it comes to the complexities of human life.

Sure, both involve deposits and withdrawals. But that doesn’t mean that sex should be treated like online banking.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller’s proposed iConsent app would allow everyone to record their consent to sex.

Apart from the obvious – that consent can be coerced – it’s impractical and just gross. If consent is ongoing, do you leave the phone on throughout? Who wants to engage in mood-killing phone-play?

It’s already been slapped down by Chanel Contos, who has campaigned for better education on consent in schools. So hopefully, that’s the end of that.

But it reveals the limits of our imagination when it comes to sex.

This is what you get when sex is transactional, a bloodless transfer from one to another. Your priorities are convenience, ease, and keeping meticulous records of everything.

But even one of the big four gets that banking is about “more than money”.

iConsent is a technocratic solution to the complexities of human life.

As described by William Deresiewicz, for the technocrat, “no holistic thinking is involved, no speculation as to fundamental ends. The world, like a test, consists of a series of discrete problems, and all we need to do is get out there and solve them.”

A technocratic approach, in other words, leaves unexamined the difficult, thorny, moral questions worth asking. Like: what is good sex – beyond consent and technique? Who am I? Who are you? Just what exactly are we doing here?

In the public square, such talk borders on taboo, and so suddenly, consensual sex is tantamount to signing a form. Streamlined processes in the banking world might make customers happy. But in the bedroom? We need far more than that to be satisfied.