Aussie dads’ shock reaction to consent book

Chanel Contos shares the surprising reaction from men after releasing her new book on consent. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer

A new book written by consent activist Chanel Contos has prompted some surprising stories from Aussie dads.

Consent Laid Bare hit bookstores across the country two weeks ago and comes more than two years after her infamous Instagram poll uncovered thousands of stories of sexual assault from Australian students.

Ms Contos said the response to the book has been overwhelming, particularly the wave of men who have reached out to tell her they were worried about consent when having sex with their partners.

“There’s been dads reach out and say, ‘I heard you on the radio, I’m gonna buy the book for my daughter’,” she told the NCA NewsWire after speaking at an event hosted by Tinder on Monday.

Consent activist and CEO of Teach Us Consent Chanel Contos said she has had a wave of men reach out after launching her book. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer

“Or ‘I read the book and immediately checked in with my wife to make sure she never feels obligated to have sex with me.”

The Teach Us Consent chief executive has been busy kickstarting a national conversation about consent education, and led the successful charge towards achieving a mandate for consent curriculum in every state from Term 1 this year.

Despite seeing a marked shift in the way men talk about consent, the reality is that most men aren’t actively striking up the conversation, and particularly not in their own circles.

“One hundred per cent, I wish more men would pick it up,” she said.

She said she wrote a chapter just for men in the hope it would empower them to talk about consent. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer

“It can be quite frustrating to spend so much time and energy, trying to convince someone that you deserve equal human rights.”

On Tuesday, Teach Us Consent shared a post to their social pages indicating a renewed push to get men talking about consent.

“We’re on a mission to put consent, empathy and respect at the heart of sex education, which means that we need everyone in the room, and particularly young men, to make real change,” the Instagram post read.

A review of their 29,000 Instagram followers revealed that just 11 per cent are men.

“This is why we’ve freshened things up, both visually and content-wise,” the post said.

“Because now, more than ever, we need more than the current 11 per cent to understand the intricacies of sexual violence and to be empowered with the education to help challenge the status quo.”

She said she hopes men share the book and its ideas with other men. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer

While she is encouraged by the number of men starting to engage with the nuances of consent, Ms Contos says she is also painfully aware of a backlash that has pushed reactionary voices into the spotlight.

“Even as we make these strides towards change, there’s still so much stuff coming in the other direction,” she said.

The book contains a chapter dedicated entirely to men and boys and was designed as something readers could pass on to the males in their life.

“It’s exactly why I wrote the chapter, to empower them, convince them, and to give them confidence.

“We need more men because unfortunately, especially young men, listen to each other more.”

She said part of the problem with starting a conversation about consent is the emotionally and often morally charged nature of the conversation.

Her hope is that the book can release some of the pressure out of the discussion, which can sometimes feel like a confrontation, and take the emotional load off the person engaging the conversation.