Reports indicate that a new initiative taken during sex- “stealthing”– could be on the rise. Allegedly, the act involves the removal of a condom or another contraceptive without a partner’s knowledge. While many may assume the act refers primarily to heterosexual relationships, experts contend that those in same-sex relationships face the alarming issue just as frequently.
According to an NBC report, the “stealthing” term was coined by an Alexandra Brodsky for the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. In her study, Brodsky, a graduate of Yale University and founder of the popular site knowyourix.org, interviews those who have experienced situations in which stealthing has taken place. According to her findings, most who have been victims of stealthing indicate a deeply rooted fear of contracting sexually transmitted infections or, in some cases, an understandably extreme aversion to unwanted pregnancies.
While experts aren’t quite sure where or when the act began, reports claim there are several websites – many of which have since been removed – that allegedly instruct men on proper ways to “stealth” without being caught. According to Brodsky, this kind of writing is vulgar, misogynistic, and just plain wrong.
“Online writers who practice or promote nonconsensual condom removal root their actions in misogyny and investment in male sexual supremacy.”
Brodsky also adds that many of these writers justify their actions as a “natural male instinct” and a right.
According to Suzanne Goldberg, a professor at Columbia Law School, the practice has more than likely been going on for a long time, but the increased attention it’s now receiving via the internet is relatively new.
This wouldn’t be the first time a viewpoint that is not culturally accepted has gained steam on the internet. Well-documented reports of hate groups, both alt right and alt left,- indicate that many people prefer the internet to promote their agendas because of the anonymity it provides. In fact, the Federal Communications Commission lists several hundreds of websites that are heavily censored due to questionable content. It’s nearly impossible, however, to blanket the entirety of the web, so sites like the new stealthing ones could, quite possibly, pop up fairly often.
According to Brian Pinero, vice president of victim services for a network that caters specifically to those who’ve experienced rape, abuse, or incest, the concept of someone deliberating removing a condom without consent from their partner is so absurd, many who report it don’t even know how to describe it. He indicates that for some victims, the issue is such a novel experience, they often wonder if it’s even real.
“I think that when you don’t have the vocabulary you struggle with — is it even real?”
But Brodsky asserts that it is, indeed, very real. In fact, she reports some cases where women have come forward to talk about the details of their experiences. One woman, a brave volunteer from New York, indicates that, after she told her partner that having sex without a condom was “not negotiable,” he removed it anyway. After she found out, her description of the man’s response indicated that he was more proud than embarrassed.
“[He told me,] ‘Don’t worry about it, trust me.’”
As to whether or not the act of stealthing will soon be considered illegal, the verdict is still up in the air. While Brodsky advocates for outlawing the act, she also confesses that none of the people she interviewed considered taking any form of legal action against the perpetrators. Legally, the act is currently covered under the umbrella of “consensual sex.” There is a very gray area regarding what may and may not be deemed appropriate for the “consensual” label, so it’s quite difficult to rule on whether or not a particular act should be covered by it.
According to Goldberg, whether stealthing is outlawed or not, it’s a vile thing to do. In her interview with NBC, she was blunt on where she stood.
“It’s hard to understand this as anything other than a profound disrespect for one’s sexual partner…”
If the sex act continues to make waves in the media, a judicial decision could soon follow.
[Featured Image by Mario Tarna/Staff/Getty Images]