By, Adrienne Openlander
Just recently, as in hours ago, I learned of a new term for a sexual trend making its way into headlines. “Stealthing” is new to me and may be new to you or maybe not. The term stealth can be defined by Webster’s Dictionary as secret, clandestine or surreptitious behavior. Stealthing can be defined by the Urban Dictionary and Wikipedia as the removal of a condom during intercourse without consent of the partner. This is after an agreement has been made for the use of a condom.
Articles on stealthing can be found with USA Today, CNN, CBS News, Women’s Health and several magazines and publications in England and Australia. This is not a new practice and it isn’t strictly an issue about removal of a condom. As this terrible practice becomes a trend, sites such as condomdepot.com, speak of strategic damage of contraceptives during use. Damage of contraceptive use can have emotional, physical and financial effects.
Since the publishing of Alexandra Brodsky’s paper, in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, a discussion has been ignited. She interviewed numerous women who’ve been victims of stealthing. All these women considered this a form of sexual assault. Her paper calls this a rape adjacent crime violating consent. Currently, there is no law or definition in sexual assault legal language on stealthing or contraceptive tampering. Some experts think the law should focus more on the consequence of these actions.
Wisconsin representative Melissa Sargent and California assembly member Cristina Garcia have presented a bill, LRB-3346, for the expansion of sexual assault definition. They are looking to focus on consent and classifying the willful removal of a condom. Representative Melissa Sargent tweeted, “The issue isn’t whether or not ‘stealthing’ is happening, it’s whether or not we’re going to do something about it.” England is equating stealthing to rape without legal precedent. A Swiss court convicted a man, who deliberately removed his condom, with defilement instead of rape.
During the process of learning about stealthing and the discussions around this topic we see it is not a new topic. Contraceptive tampering has been a conversation or issue for many. Is this any different than the poking of holes in condoms? Is this different then hiding a person’s birth control or removing their NuvaRing? The removal of contraceptive devices without the consent of another is a violation of their reproductive right. Alexandra Brodsky did her research and found forums on social media where men, who used the stealthing method, bragged about it. Those accused called it “their right to spread their seed”. One man interviewed in an Australian magazine admitted to doing it with every partner and had only been caught once. Brodsky cites this trend as a support in an ideology of male supremacy. Social media forums for stealthing encourage and educate on ways perform the action. This trend is impacting both straight and gay communities.
Tips to minimize stealthing: