Boiled down to its most lucid, consent is defined as “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.” However, when applied to sex, one must consider its gradients, which means recognizing and embracing ideas such as “enthusiastic consent,” which, as its name indicates, expresses one’s excitement toward the sexual activity they are engaged in. In other words, it means they’re sober enough to make a decision and are not feeling coerced in any way, which is how things should always be anyway. But with more and more high-profile cases deservedly villainizing Hollywood’s most adored–particularly Aziz Ansari–the seemingly clear definition of consent is evolving and gaining more nuance. Consent no longer has a generalized definition.

Is expressing consent before sex enough? To most, this answer would be no. To LegalFling, a recently developed app, that answer is yes: as long as there is a signed contract involved. Here’s how the app works: users send a ‘fling’ (or request) to a potential sexual encounter with WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger or SMS. Once a fling has been established between both parties, you can set boundaries (say, if you’re into BDSM and your fling isn’t or you’re withholding knowledge of an STI) and configure your personal preferences with the swipe of a finger. Once everything is mutually agreed on, you’ve got yourselves a legally-binding contract. It’s all quite simple, really. And that’s the problem.

“It seems the idea behind such apps is to legally ‘protect’ individuals from being called out for rape or sexual violence,“ Raymond McKie, a PhD Candidate at the University of Ottawa (Canada), who primarily studies consent and human sexuality, tells Playboy. "To those who hold this desire for protection: I would strongly encourage these people to instead learn more about clear communication skills during sexual encounters.”

McKie argues a big reason for the miscommunication of consent is too many of us are uncomfortable talking about sex. But, he says, that needs to change if we want rates of unwanted sexual experiences to dwindle. “I’m not a legal expert, but I can say that sexual assault and rape are defined differently across jurisdictions. For many, consent is defined as an ongoing act, it doesn’t just magically happen at the beginning,” he says. The problem is sexual consent isn’t just a one-time deal, it needs to be negotiated consistently throughout a sexual act.

Research has also found that sexual consent and sexual “wantedness” might not always be synonymous constructs, McKie describes. This means some individuals may consent to sex that they do not want for reasons such as being aroused, out of obligation, avoiding awkwardness, or furthering one’s sexual experience. Conversely, some individuals may decline sex that they do want. Some reasons being: vulnerability, fear of losing a friendship, being intoxicated and ethical boundaries.

"There is also a high likelihood for miscommunication,” McKie adds. “‘Rough play’ may mean one thing to one person and another to the next. There could also be a sense of pressure to consent via this app in individuals who have pre-established relationships, or if other power dynamics are in place.”

He explains, “Imagine being sent an old photo or other [inaccurate photo of the person] to then realize upon meeting in person that they were deceptive. Perhaps the person is not who they have said at all. [Or] maybe the person is a terrible kisser, and this turns you off or just rubs you the wrong way. These are situations where people often have the most trouble exiting the sexual encounter.”

There are many loopholes in the idea of a contract for consent. What if someone grabbed the potential victim’s phone and swiped yes on their contract? Legally, that person’s defense is now null and void.

McKie says that this contract seems to serve as protection for the potential offender and wouldn’t necessarily protect victims. “Based on what I have seen, I believe that is highly problematic,” McKie expresses. “If people really want to use technology to their advantage with regard to sexuality, they could consider making an app for discussing a variety of sexual topics with their partner(s).” He believes technology can do a monumental service in allowing people to speak more openly about sexual health topics.

While apps like LegalFling are well-intentioned (again, I was told by the app’s creators that “LegalFling is not a way to cover yourself”), it doesn’t seem to tackle the real issue contractual consent presents, which would require articulating abstract sexual situations on paper. It’s a difficult task. But as the meaning of consent enters the public discourse more and more, a superior solution (new laws or better education perhaps?) shouldn’t be far away.