Stealthing is the non-consenual act of removing a condom during sex. This terrifying trend is on the rise, fostered by an online community of men who feel entitled to this act of violence and encourage others to participate in it.
A new study written by Alexandra Brodsky for the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, explores the phenomenon and how victims of the act can move forward. Brodsky discussed the study with The HuffPost and her ultimate finding that “stealthing is an act of gender-based violence that may violate a number of civil and criminal laws.”
The internet is alight with conversations around this topic. Comment threads are teeming with people decrying this horrific practice, some admitting they have been thus victimized. Then there are the victim shamers who dare to indict these women and men.
Let’s be clear: this non-consensual removal of a condom is sexual assault.
Stealthing is a clear violation and a violent one at that. This practice forces people into a sexual situation they did not consent to and non-consensual sex is rape. In fact, a man in Switzerland was recently convicted of rape for this exact act.
Survivors of stealthing may experience the same effects as other survivors of sexual violence. As Brodsky says, “Victims are confronted with not only the potential repercussions of condom-less sex ― pregnancy, STIs, HIV and AIDS ― but similar feelings of confusion and shame to those who have been victims of other kinds of sexual violence.”
The problem is the lack of clear definition around this relatively new term (though not a new practice), means victims do not have the language to describe their assault nor the communities and resources for seeking support.
Tragically, one community that does exist around stealthing is one for perpetrators. In her study, Rodsky delves into the dark online world of men who feel entitled to act on these violent impulses and promote the behavior. These communities defend stealthing as a male “right,” training others on how to become “proud stealthers”.
Hopefully this flurry of news around the issue will inspire real change, both in terms of punishing those guilty of the act and toward providing support for victims.