Let’s Be Honest: ‘Consent Condoms’ Are a Marketing Ploy
An Argentinan sex toy company, Tulipán, recently rolled out a “consent condom” that needs two sets of hands to open. The wrapper has four buttons on two adjacent sides, which need to be pressed by two people simultaneously to access the condom within. The company is marketing the product with slogans like “If you don’t say YES, it’s NO. Consent is the most important thing in sex.” Which, yes, it definitely is. A hard-to-access condom, however, is not going to make any difference. (It’s not even that hard to access; you could probably manage it with two hands, a chin and a flat surface.)
It is truly difficult to assess who the target audience is for the company: someone who cares about their partner enough to ask for consent? Then they would probably not need the product. Someone who doesn’t care about consent? They would probably not go out and buy the product.
While Tulipán is distributing the condoms for free at bars in Buenos Aires for now, they will soon start making the product available for purchase in stores. The idea that a fortress-like condom wrapper is the solution to rape culture, or even a small step in the right direction, is truly doltish. Issues surrounding consent and sexual assault cannot be tackled by a communal opening ceremony of a condom. Violation of consent can happen at any time during a sexual encounter, from the first touch, to right in the middle of sex. Conveying the concept of consent as relevant only while opening the condom, which is usually the precursor to penetrative sex, is a reductive way of looking at the entire issue.
Which brings me to my next point: the company doesn’t care if the product makes sense. Mainstream discussions surrounding consent have slowly permeated the collective psyche of internet users, so much so that consent has become a buzzword for corporations to profit off of. Sure, a company recognizing that consent is important, and making waves and conversation on social media around the topic is a good thing. But only if the posturing is followed up with relevant action, and not with a product that honestly feels like a waste of money not just for the customer, but even for the company to manufacture.
Active communication with, and respect and consideration for your partner, is the way consent should be tackled in sexual situations. Once that’s done, I’m sure a regular condom will do just fine.