Finally: Someone is talking about stealthing, a form of rape that men and women have had trouble explaining since, well, forever.
Last week, Alexandra Brodsky’s paper, “‘Rape-Adjacent’: Imagining Legal Responses to Nonconsensual Condom Removal” became the topic of conversation on many news sites and networks.
Brodsky’s research examines how stealthing, also known as covert condom removal, harms victims. The paper also notes what forms of legal action could be taken against a person who “stealths.”
The findings in the paper are equally interesting and horrifying, and solidify the assumption that a person who uses stealthing during sex is a sexual predator.
Brodsky interviewed stealthing survivors and researched online spaces and communities that support the practice, Refinery29 reports.
“Unsurprisingly, these communities consist of men—both gay and straight—who believe they have a right to ‘spread their seed. [They] ‘root their support [for stealthing] in an ideology of male supremacy in which violence is a man’s natural right.’”
Jules Purnell, a sexuality educator from Philadelphia at Widener University Center for Human Sexuality Studies, has heard this “excuse” first-hand.
“[A] man who spoke on this subject during a discussion I hosted stated his ‘superior negotiation skills’ meant he never had to use condoms with this partner,” Purnell explains.
“This means, in so many words, that he talks his partners into not using condoms, linguistically strong-arming them into relinquishing their boundaries. This is very similar to other coercive tactics rapists use, and it’s not a part of healthy, consensual sex.”
It is all about consent
It’s simple. If a man or woman removes a condom during sex, that act is rape. Remember: Rape is any nonconsensual sexual activity.
“The predators are taking it upon themselves to do this without the victim’s permission,” Alexis Moore, attorney, author, and advocate, says.
“The predator has [changed] the terms of the agreement without the permission of the partner. This conduct needs to be addressed legislatively immediately.”
Shame is one of the most prominent feelings a stealthing victim could feel.
Melissa Hamilton, JD, PhD, University of Houston Law Center, says victims could feel responsible for not noticing condom removal. This guilt may be more prominent in victims who were drunk, etc., during an attack. In addition to self-blame, victims also may begin to worry obsessively about contracting a STI or becoming pregnant.
And although male victims may not have to worry about pregnancy, there are myriad other issues they may face. “Gay [male] victims are already marginalized and often do not report sexual assaults for fear of further shaming and blaming,” Christene Lozano, licensed marriage family therapist, explains.
“Heterosexual male victims of stealthing are also unlikely to report because the shame of being sexually victimized [could be] threatening to their masculinities.”
What to do
First we must state that only stealthing rapists can stop using this dangerous form of assault. But there are some tactics that people can use to potentially catch an assaulter in the act.
“You can periodically reach down to [check] that the ring of the condom is against the base of the penis, under the guise of ‘sexy touching’,” Daniel Saurborn, a physician at Stanford Healthcare, says.
“The [person] may also periodically change positions where withdrawal is necessary, which allows visual inspection of the condom, without appearing suspicious.”
Ultimately, though, if you think your partner is capable of stealthing, it’s best to end the relationship, or encounter.
“A selfish partner will never provide the love that you are looking for,” Saurborn states.
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