New Sex Trend: 'Stealthing' How-To Online Community Tells Men To Take Off Condom During Sex Without Consent

Many men will complain about sex with a condom; the protection is necessary, but not enjoyable. Wearing a condom helps prevent pregnancy and the spread of STIs, but a disturbing new sex trend may increase the odds for both. A new study published in Columbia Journal of Gender and Law found an online community of men are engaging in "stealthing", or taking off their condoms before or during sex, without their partner's consent.

“One can note that proponents of ‘stealthing’ root their support in an ideology of male supremacy in which violence is a man’s natural right," wrote Alexandra Brodsky, lead author of the study, and a member of the Legal Fellow for National Women’s Law Center, in the study.

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In Brodsky's report, online communities argue every guy has a right to "spread his seed." For example, in a "stealthing how-to" online guide, one man revealed how he felt a rush in his first experience that was more intense than he can describe.

The unidentified man continued to brag about his stealth sex: "I became VERY good at what i did. It took some trial and error but eventually i had full confidence that any time i hooked up with someone, [I] knew my *** would end up inside her by the end of the night. I did this over and over with so many girls [I] can't even begin to count them."

These "incidents" are too common, and leave women vulnerable to pregnancy or STIs, along with emotional, physical, and financial harm caused by these violent sex acts. Rebecca, a doctoral student who works at a rape crisis hotline and is herself a victim of stealthing, has received many calls about women being stealthed.

"Their stories often start the same way," said Rebecca, “’I’m not sure if this is rape, but…’”

All these women felt violated, but they lacked the vocabulary to express what was happening. One of the victims interviewed in the report called stealthing "rape-adjacent," while another described what happened with her partner as a "“blatant violation of what we’d agree(d) to.”

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Brodsky hopes the article highlights the need for a new statute that can provide victims with new vocabulary and ways to talk about an experience that's passed off by men as "bad sex" rather than sexual assault. Moreover, the article stresses this could very well be against the law. A law would help clarify and affirm to victims that stealthing doesn't just feel like sexual violence; it is.

Woman holding condom New sex trend rises as a "stealthing" how-to online community of men encourage taking off condoms during sex without consent. Photo courtesy of Pexels, Public Domain

Stealthing victims describe the act as a "threat to their bodily agency and as a dignitary harm," wrote Brodsky. These women are told they have no right to make their own sexual decision. They are told "‘You are not worthy of my consideration.’”

In January, a man in Switzerland was convicted of rape for taking off his condom during sex. The court judged the woman would have refused sex if she knew the condom would be intentionally removed by the man. The victim’s lawyer described the conviction as “a first for Switzerland.”

This supports the notion victims do have the right to pursue justice, but none of the victims in the study took legal action. However, Brodsky acknowledges many existing laws do not always work for gender violence survivors. The forms of skepticism seen from judges dealing with rape victims and other types of sexual assault victims are most likely to be present in stealthing cases.

A National Violence Against Women Survey found only 19.1 percent of women who were raped after their 18th birthday reported the crime. Reasons why victims did not report include fear of retaliation from the rapist; feelings of shame and embarrassment; belief rape was a minor accident and not a police issue; and a concern that their credibility would be questioned by police and prosecutors. The procedure of reporting rape cases discourages some women, because they don't always lead to arrest and successful prosecution.

Brodsky believes this is why a new statute may help victims because it lends them the support to prevent these acts and also recover from them.

Stealthing during sex is not a part of consensual sex; it's sexual violence.

Every man needs to respect that, and every woman deserves to know that.

Source: Brodsky A. 'Rape-Adjacent': Imagining Legal Responses to Nonconsensual Condom Removal. Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. 2017.

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