Stealthing is the sexual practice in which men remove or damage condoms without their partners’ knowledge. There has been a rise in the reports of this disturbing sexual practice that is deemed by some experts as a type of sexual assault.
The truth is that giving an official name to this practice might be an excellent way to support those people who have been victims of it. Right now, stealthing is not explicitly considered as a crime but discussing it could help victims in courts.
“Overlooked by the law, nonconsensual condom removal is a harmful and often gender-motivated form of sexual violence” said Alexandra Brodsky, who authored the article when she was a student at Yale Law School. “I worry that victims (of stealthing) might struggle in court using current laws” she added.
Can Stealthing be considered rape?
Yale Law School published this study last week in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, and it has generated a lot of controversies and discussions regarding this new trend which has been called Stealthing.”
The study was led by Alexandra Brodsky, who is also a fellow at the National Women’s Law Center. She said that with the increasing reports of stealthing, it is important to discuss the difference between consensual intercourse and sexual assault because stealthing occurs when men remove their condoms in secrecy. Therefore, they deliberately hide this practice from their sexual partners.
This practice has been recently promoted online among men. There are websites where they brag about performing stealthing, and they even give instructions on how to do it effectively. However, according to Suzanne D. Goldberg, this practice has existed for much longer. She said that, right now, it just has been boosted by some websites. Goldberg is the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality at Columbia Law School. She said this promotion of stealthing on the internet is a phenomenon.
“Online writers who practice or promote nonconsensual condom removal root their actions in misogyny and investment in male sexual supremacy. While one can imagine a range of motivations for ‘stealthers’—increased physical pleasure, a thrill from degradation — online discussions suggest offenders and their defenders justify their actions as a natural male instinct — and natural male right,” Brodsky writes.
In reality, all the survivors of sexual assaults face a lot of challenges when denouncing these crimes in courts. Many jurors refuse to see it as a crime especially when the victims were engaged in a relationship with their alleged offenders. In Brodsky’s opinion stealthing can only be understood as a profound disrespect for one’s sexual partner.
Stealthing affects everyone
Stealthing is not an isolated behavior between heterosexual couples. It happens to affect everyone, according to Brian Pinero, vice president of victim services for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, which operates a hotline for this kind of cases. He said that if someone is a victim of stealthing or other sexual assault, it is their duty to receive them and to treat them with respect and dignity. He said it is necessary to have a common vocabulary when talking about stealthing.
Brodsky said that victims of stealthing have a fear of sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancies. She said it should be penalized; therefore, she advocates for a new civil law that would specifically set a name for this practice to provide a clearer legal path for victims and possible legal repercussion to those who perform this degrading practice.
Stealthing is a clear violation of trust
Brodsky included in the study some experiences of stealthing that were revealed by female victims. One of them, a political staffer in New York, said that for her this practice was a violation of trust committed by her partner. She stated that she was seeing a man and they were hooking up in his house. He suggested having sex without using a condom. For her, that was unacceptable, especially because she wasn’t in birth control. Her exact words were “That is not negotiable.” However, she felt crushed when she realized that her partner removed the condom anyway.
“[He told me,] ‘Don’t worry about it, trust me.’ That stuck with me because [he’d] literally proven [himself] to be unworthy of [my] trust,” the woman told Brodsky.
She stopped dating him right away. Brodsky explains that the consent given to have sex doesn’t protect or include the act of stealthing.
No court in the United States has even received a case regarding condom removal without consent, nor has someone been charged for stealthing. Nevertheless, Brodsky said the law should provide victims of stealthing with a compensation – or at least the chance to be heard – given the emotional, financial and physical harms derived from this sexual practice. Emotional distress can be aggravated in people who have dealt with sexual assault in the past.
Stealthing is a reality, but people didn’t know how to call it before; however, it is still unknown how often it happens.
Source: NBC News