Nipple is a new sexual activity tracker that basically acts as a public sex diary. (You can of course make your profile private, but where's the fun in that?) After registering as male, female or transgender, you can log who you've had sex with along with details about the experience, and see "how your performances evolve" with handy graphs and charts.
While the app may have released an ill-advised marketing campaign at this year's SXSW (and its website is unnecessarily skewed towards men), there's something refreshing about documenting your sexual encounters and partners' preferences in the same way you'd take notes at a lecture. Laugh all you want, but Nipple is unpacking multiple stigmas about sex by acknowledging that — surprise! — people have sex, that some people have many partners and that there's nothing wrong with keeping track of those hookups.
In fact, doing so can be a good thing. As the app's website proclaims, "Does she or he like anal and have fun with ropes? That is something you should remember!" (They've got a point.) And as an added bonus, you can look back years from now and fondly remember that Dustin guy who liked getting spanked with a spatula.
We need more sex-positive apps like Nipple, which has the power to help reduce the shame that often surrounds sexual activity, particularly for women, who may lie about their number of past partners in order to fit "chaste" gender norms and not be seen as promiscuous. This kind of openness creates transparency, dialogue and accountability around sexual health and safety, as it also helps broaden our cultural understanding of sexual behaviors.
It's not hard to imagine that those who find Nipple or similar apps offensive may posit that tracking this data turns sex into a numbers game or encourages unsafe sex. But sex is going to be had whether we acknowledge it or not. Abstinence-only sex education has been shown to be ineffective at lowering rates of sexual activity among teens, while open and comprehensive dialogue about sex helps people make more informed decisions, lowers teen pregnancy rates and the risk for STDs and has the added benefit of normalizing behaviors (maybe that spatula incident with Dustin isn't as unusual as you think).
There's also the accountability that comes with documenting your sexual encounters. It's arguably harder to think about a person as an object when you take the time to write down his or her name, likes and dislikes, essentially making a memory more tangible and meaningful (even if that meaning was just that you discovered you really don't like being covered in hot wax).
So instead of pretending to be embarrassed about who we're doing and what we're doing with them, why not chronicle our adventures in banging? Sex should be fun and playful, not shrouded in shame and mystery. We've already got enough apps that encourage unhealthy attitudes about sex and relationships (ahem, Lulu and BroApp). Maybe Nipple is onto something brilliant.
Image Credit (All): Nipple