Few people associate fingerprinting with condoms, but a new invention could soon make it a normal part of sex.
British inventor David Morrow recently introduced what he calls a “consent condom.” The consent condom, with the slogan “Yes — I agree to have sex with you” imprinted on the package, includes a plastic insert a woman marks with her thumbprint to indicate consent.
Morrow said his invention will prevent men from being falsely accused of date rape.
“It may trigger some agreement, so it might eliminate some cases of acquaintance rape,” UW-Madison sociology professor John DeLamater said.
Others believe consent condoms will not prevent rape.
“It seems kind of ridiculous to me,” said Meghan Benson, Sex Out Loud program coordinator. “How many rapists use a condom?”
Another concern is that women being forced or coerced into having sex could also be forced or coerced into putting their thumbprints on the condom insert.
Furthermore, the condoms do not account for women who put a thumbprint on the insert but later change their mind about having sex.
“To say a thumbprint on a condom [indicates consent], when you understand the dynamics of coercion, is ludicrous,” said Becky Westerfelt, executive director of the Madison Rape Crisis Center.
Westerfelt said the idea behind consent condoms ignores the fact that many women are coerced into having sex.
Many believe thumbprints will not be sufficient as evidence in a rape trial.
“I have a hard time believing our D.A. would use a thumbprint to prove consent,” Westerfelt said.
Scott Spear, director of clinical services at University Heath Services, also said the consent condom would not stand as legal evidence.
“A good lawyer will be able to defeat this in court,” Spear said.
Spear said although the condoms may seem like a good fix, they do not sufficiently address core sexual issues, including the meaning of consent.
Communication between partners is necessary, Spear said.
“Consent condoms don’t indicate that communication has occurred,” he said. “When you’re ready to put a condom on is not the time to talk about consent.”
Delamater said he is in favor of students discussing sexual behavior before they engage in it, and believes consent condoms may encourage them to break past those awkward barriers.
Consent condoms are not yet available in the United States, but most people do not predict they will be popular when they make it across the ocean.
“I can’t see a lot of people wanting to use them,” Benson said. “They don’t seem practical.”
Delamater said the extra cost of the fingerprinting kit in consent condoms could prevent people from buying them.
“Condoms cost too much as it is,” he said.
An additional problem may be what some people call their “mood-killing” ability. Spear and Benson said they make having sex into making a negotiation.
“When you’re getting ready to have sex, you’re not going to ask, ‘Could I get your thumbprint on this?'” Benson said.