Scripting Consent Fictions in Sex Technology Imaginaries

Nguyen, Josef
Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience

This article examines how the intended and implied uses and users of emerging commercial sex technologies negotiate understandings of sexual consent as a social fiction articulated as contractual-yet-contingent autonomy and transactional access that is framed as a prerequisite obstacle to sexual gratification. To do so, I analyze the design and marketing of consent-recording applications and sex robots programmed to refuse consent. I draw on science and technology studies, media studies, and feminist and queer theory to investigate both how sexual consent is imaginatively scripted into digital technologies and how imagined digital technologies suggest that we approach and value sexual consent. My analysis foregrounds critical readings of the design imaginaries of promissory digital technologies—speculatively suggested through design and marketing materials—to situate them within cultural politics of consent and digital technology as they express desires for specific worldbuilding fantasies about gender and sex.