An Argentinian sex toy company has designed a new condom that it says proves consent because it needs four hands – in other words, two people – to open it.
The brand, Tulipán, designed the packaging of the condom with a series of pressure points around the fours edges. Pressing all of the buttons simultaneously releases the lid of the box.
The brand say the unique design ensures both parties are equally involved in the decision to have sex because you can’t get to the contents without two sets of hands. It’s even branded the item with the phrase: ‘if it’s not a yes, it’s a no’.
But it totally misses the point.
Firstly, it’s unclear whether the whole thing is an awareness-raising campaign or a clever stunt – riding on a wave of post #MeToo interest in the conversation around consent. Does Tulipán actually intend to make money from this?
The United Nations estimates 70% of women worldwide experience some form of sexual violence with an intimate partner, so if this product is intended for market, it misses the mark. The prospect of not being able to put on a condom to have safe sex won’t be enough of a deterrent to stop many sexual predators.
And after watching the demonstration video a couple of times, it looks like a person can singlehandedly open the condom box anyway – as it’s not big enough to stop you using your thumb and forefinger on each corner.
Not to mention if you were in a rush you could just rip into the cardboard – it’s not made of reinforced steel or anything.
But beyond these logistical problems, it also ignores all the nuances of consent – the fact that consent can be withdrawn at any time (yes, even after she has helped you open the box). It’s like the problem of consent videos – an open condom box is not evidence that someone wasn’t raped.
People could be coerced into opening the box – through verbal or physical threats. Or if they’re drunk and semi-conscious, they could find themselves opening the box being totally unaware it’s being used as an agreement.
It also doesn’t help with cases of stealthing – where a condom is removed mid-way through sex without permission (which is illegal in the UK). Consent for one way of having sex isn’t consent for all iterations.
It’s all a bit reminiscent of the £87 anti-rape knickers, with a combination lock and 130-decibel alarm, which went on sale in Germany in a bid to stop would-be rapists tearing your pants off without you giving over the passcode.
Women don’t need your gimmicky products. If men can’t be trusted to behave unless they have physical barriers (boxes, padlocks) to keep them on the right side of the law, then the conversation around consent has really lost its way.