I didn’t expect it at the time, but when I first spoke with Colin Adamo, I felt a level of kindredness. Like myself, Colin pursued sexual health education through his extra circulars while in school as an undergrad, said pursuits turned into post graduate projects, and he has a sincere passion to make positive changes in world with those around him. Using this as a starting point, I wanted to start a conversation with Colin about his project Hooking Up and Staying Hooked (H.U.S.H.) which aims to provide young high-school men accessible online sex education. Colin had some questions for The Consensual Project and he fortunately consented to answer some questions about the intersections of consent in his work as well.
HUSH: Can we just start with a basic? What is consent? Why is it important?
TCP: When you’re with someone (or some people), consent is the ultimate sexual expression. Yes, I’m going there! I’m going there because at the core of being with somebody is communication. Hands down the best way to communicate is consent. Often times when people think about sexual communication they think of body language. And body language is hot and a part of communication, but, it’s not the end-all be-all. There’s a lot more that we can explore that will make our romance better in every way we can measure. I’m talking about consent. Consent is exploring, discovering, and enjoying romantic harmony through the use of communication with words!
Consent matters because it will make our intimacy more erotic. It also matters because the absence of consent can be dangerous in a lot of ways. So consent makes our romance safer, too.
HUSH: When we hear other people talk about consent it sounds like it might be awkward giving or getting consent. Is it? How do you make consent smooth?
TCP: When it’s authentic, clear, and respectful. When you can clearly communicate your interests in a way that makes the other person feel comfortable while staying true to yourself and your desires, that’s when consent is smoothest. The end goal is to forge an exciting, fun, trusting connection with somebody to explore mutual sexual wants, right? The most effective way of turning that vision into a reality is through words. So be authentic, clear, and respectful and you’ll be choosing your words well!
HUSH: Are there some audiences for you that are hard reach? In what sort of situations has consent education been most challenging?
TCP: Yes and no. I love what I do and I end up talking about consent just about all the time. Like now for instance! Even while out with friends to a party I’m probably going to end up talking about consent all night once somebody asks, “So, what do you do?” It’s such a big conversation to have. And I’m so thrilled to see the positive responses I get, everyone from ex-professional rugby players to fellow sex educators like yourself see that our current sexual culture is in a really unhealthy place. Once I start to share what consent is and how people can approach sexual communication with consent, everyone gets excited. No pun intended. So on an interpersonal level, not big challenges as of now. Yet, as a project, the vision is to produce an account of consent that’s accessible enough for students of all walks of life to connect with. I think it’s too early to see if it’s been entirely successful, but so far I think the signs are looking good!
HUSH: Where do you see consent beginning when interacting with girls?
TCP: Ideally, right from the start! “Want to go out sometime?” would be a great example of starting off on a consensual note.
HUSH: Do you see consent as easier or more difficult to communicate during high school?
TCP: I’m not sure if I’m qualified to answer this question, yet. I haven’t worked with a high school audience professionally yet and so I can only speak from my own high school experience. Generally, I can say that I have had a much easier and more enjoyable time expressing myself as I learn more and more about consent!
HUSH: How do you think the website for The Consensual Project helps young people connect through consent?
TCP: Please visit the website! You’ll find a bunch of easy and fun ways to start connecting through consent!
TCP: You write about conflict resolution, is there anything you foresee as being relevant to consent and arguments in relationships?
HUSH: Totally! I think the way we approach consent when hooking up with someone has a lot in common with working through an argument with an intimate partner. Both are about communicating our needs, understanding the other person’s needs and working together to make sure the feelings and desires of both parties are respected. It’s hard to give or get consent without opening your mouth and communicating the same way it’s hard to solve an argument without talking.
TCP: What are your favorite questions or tips for asking someone out? What does the language of asking somebody out look like?
HUSH: The most basic equation for successfully asking someone out is knowing that you are someone interesting or fun to be around, communicating to the other person that there is something that makes you feel they too are interesting or fun to be around, and suggesting that the two of you spend time together doing something fun or interesting. Let’s get specific.
“Hey, did I see you at that Verah Falls concert last weekend? Yeah, it was a lot of fun. I love when the crowd gets really into it. Do you go to lots of concerts around here? There’s an open mic night at the coffee shop downtown this weekend. Do you want to check it out?”
See, follows the equation exactly! I go to concerts and have fun. You go to similar events, you must be fun too. We should do fun things like this together. Ta da!
TCP: Have you hit any snags when using the base system as an educational tool?
HUSH: Oh, for sure. If I was really about this system there would be too many snags to count. “The Bases” (a retro hierarchical model of conceptualizing sexual activity with others, i.e. first base is kissing, second base is feeing up, etc etc) is totally riddled with problems. H.U.S.H. evokes this system kind of ironically – this is usually the way guys talk about sex in high school, it’s classic, it’s taken on lots of permutations over time, you were never really sure what base you were on or getting to back in the day, and today nobody is really sure which base is what anymore. H.U.S.H. isn’t trying to get you to worry about “rounding the bases” and making physical intimacy a competition. Instead the goal is to give guys the low down on everything under that mysterious umbrella term “hooking up.”
TCP: As a blogger, what has been your favorite post and why?
HUSH: I want to say my favorite posts are the ones that I know would have totally helped me through high school way back when. But really, the ones that get me most are the ones where I make myself laugh… even when re-reading them. Embarrassing I know, but mixing in positive messages with witty humor and euphemisms like in Sex Vacation, make me chuckle and easily win as my favorite.
TCP: How do you measure your success?
HUSH: The project has felt successful when I get meaningful questions from readers, work really hard to provide honest helpful answers, and hear back that the guys reading found the advice really useful. That’s what all of this is about. Anything that lets me know young guys are finding it a bit easier figuring out relationships with my help, makes me feel that H.U.S.H. is a success.
TCP: Thank you so much for your thoughts and time today Colin!