If you read the news, you will no doubt have heard of a trend or ‘phenomemon’ which is on the rise, and common among young people, called ‘stealthing’. This is a term used to describe the act of a man agreeing to wear a condom, and then deliberately removing the condom during sex, without consent from his partner.
Stealthing puts the victim at risk of sexually transmitted diseases, and potential unwanted pregnancy, and lawyers have pointed out that stealthing meets the legal definition of rape. The victim has consented to protected sex, but not unprotected sex, therefore there it is non-consensual sex = rape.
Sandra Paul, a solicitor who specialises in sexual crime at Kingsley Napley, said: “There has to be some agreement that a condom is going to be used or there is going to be withdrawal. If that person then doesn’t stick to those rules, then the law says you don’t have consent.”
It was brought to the attention of the media after Brodsky researched and wrote a paper for the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, exploring how consensual sex can be changed to non-consensual sex by the secret removal of condoms.
Brodsky revealed to the Huffington Post: “One of my main goals with the article, and in proposing a new statute, is to provide a vocabulary and create ways for people to talk about what is a really common experience that is just too often dismissed as ‘bad sex’ instead of ‘violence’.
When looking at this trend, there are three main reasons outlined from the study: the need to assert power over your partner, feeling entitled to spread your seed, or simply preferring sex without a latex barrier.
Women who have been victims of this trend have been left feeling violated, confused and upset. One victim in the study called the act of stealthing ‘rape-adjacent’, and another shared her experience of feeling “freaked out” and violated by this game of male supremacy.
Men are being affected too. Alix Fox, a Sex and Relationships expert for Durex, reported interviewing gay men who had also been ‘stealthed’, falling powerless to the secret removal deception during anal sex.
Fox has encountered the craze in the UK, saying: “I’ve encountered the term ‘stealthing’ used in a number of contexts, some of them potentially punishable by law – and all of them nauseatingly abhorrent and utterly reprehensible.”
Many men have openly boasted about their stealthing habits by posting memes on social media, namely Instagram. Worryingly, the meme’s receive lots of ‘likes’ and laughing emoji’s, highlighting peoples’ desensitisation of stealthing.
If there is becoming a cultural casualness around this, raising awareness of the severity of stealthing and that it is a crime could educate and shock people into changing their ways/perceptions.
Brodsky concluded that having the vocabulary and means to discuss forms of gender violence like this will be helpful in both preventing the acts and recovering from them.
If you or anyone you know is affected by this, Katie Russell, a charity worker at Rape Crisis, says: “It can be really helpful to talk to someone in confidence like a trusted friend, or family member, or a specialist confidential independent service like a Rape Crisis centre”.