Here's Why The New Sex Trend 'Stealthing' Is NOT OK – And Punishable By Law

What you need to know to protect yourself.

With the advent of increased discourse surrounding toxic masculinity and sexual violence brings increased awareness regarding the myriad ways that rape can manifest.

Earlier this year, the topic of "stealthing," more commonly known as non-consensual condom removal, was defined and brought into the conversation by author and researcher Alexandra Brodsky. Her research included talking to survivors of stealthing as well as reviewing message boards where men discuss and implore others to employ the practice. 

"In hopes of learning more, I looked online for accounts from victims. I found many of those from both men and women. I also found myself in some very dark corners of the internet I'd never imagined existed: message boards and websites where cis men (and always cis men) gave each other advice for how to remove a condom without getting caught. So many of them talked about doing so as though it was some kind of natural male right to 'spread their seed,' even when their partners were other men." — Brodsky

Brodsky prefers the term non-consensual condom removal over the colloquial stealthing, as she believes the latter "trivializes the harm." The effects of non-consensual condom removal are two-fold: it brings about concern regarding STIs and pregnancy, but furthermore, lends itself to intimacy and trust issues.

"All [survivors] told me they had been worried about practical health effects, like sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. But they also felt a less concrete but no less devastating harm: a grave betrayal. As one woman told me, 'The harm mostly had to do with trust. He saw the risk as zero for himself and took no interest in what it might be for me, and from a friend and sexual partner, that hurt.' " — Brodsky

Non-consensual condom removal is sexual assault, and can be punishable by law if the victim chooses to pursue that avenue. As is the case with different forms of sexual violence, a victim may choose not to seek legal retribution for multitudinal reasons including emotional duress, having to re-live the assault, see their abuser face-to-face in court, and the unfortunate reality that the criminal justice system usually sides with the perpetrator. Regardless, it is a form of sexual violence and can be brought to trial, provided that a prosecutor brings criminal charges.

If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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