Not getting raped? Actually, there's not an app for that.
The Department of Health and Human Services this week released two new "Apps Against Abuse" targeted at preventing sexual assault and intimate partner violence among women age 16 to 24. "The Circle of Six" allows women to quickly access friends or emergency contacts within two clicks, then text out pre-programmed calls for help if they're in trouble. With "On Watch," a woman can set a countdown timer that will transmit her GPS location to a friend if "activities don’t go according to plan."
Both applications presume that rape could be prevented if only a victim could reach her iPhone just in time. Actually, the stigma surrounding rape is so strong that most victims don't even pick up the phone to report the crime after the fact. Most rapes are committed by friends, boyfriends, relatives, and social contacts of the victim—the kinds of people she might program into her emergency contact list. We can't stop rape and domestic abuse by GPS tracking a woman's every move—that will require a social roadmap targeted at actually preventing rapists from raping. Here are three smartphone applications that would place the responsibility back on rapists, not victims:
"Not cool, bro."
Download this app and receive a text alert every time one of your bros says something rapey. Through voice-recognition software, the application recognizes phrases like "She was asking for it" and "It's not rape if she's sleeping," then points you to defriend the offending bro on Facebook in just two clicks. Can also be programmed to recognize a male or female friend apologizing for rape ("She shouldn't have worn that skirt"; "She shouldn't have gotten so drunk").
"She wants to do me."
This interactive consent checklist informs the user whether he is preparing to engage in consensual sex. Answer a series of questions—Is she awake? Is she sober? Did she verbally indicate that she wants to have sex with you, right now, in that particular position?—before proceeding. Breathalyzer add-on sold separately.
"Is she asking for it?"
Page through a gallery of women's outfits—miniskirt and high heels; flannel pajamas; pantsuit; Best Buy Geek Squad polo shirt. Then, determine which ensemble indicates that a woman is asking to be raped. Choose carefully! Every time you determine that she's "Asking for it," your GPS location will be transmitted to an interactive map tracking potential rapists.