Sex moves can spice up your bedroom life and sometimes people get way adventurous to achieve that- trying new things, doing things to their partners that they might not be comfortable talking about, to others. No judgement there, of course. But it’s fucked up when you don’t consider your partner’s consent before indulging in such an adventure.
“But they agreed to have sex with me.”
Can consensual sex turn non-consensual? Yes, it can and it’s high time we accept this. But there are some guys who think it is okay to slip off the glove during sex without their partner’s consent, a phenomenon known as ‘stealthing’.
And you will be surprised to know, it is freakishly common.
Stealthing is the practice of removing, compromising or tampering with a condom, without the knowledge of your partner and according to this study in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, it is fairly common.
And not all of them do this because ‘sex is not the same with rubber’. While most believe it is a man’s right to ‘spread one’s seed’, don’t think it’s just men who indulge in stealthing. Some women, who are trying to become pregnant, also sabotage condoms to conceive, unknown to their sexual partners.
Alexandra Brodsky, the author of the study, told The Huffington Post that she realised that stealthing is something that too many people experience, but don’t know what to do about it.
In her study, she notes that many of the victims felt deceived, but they did not think to contact authorities about the incident because they did not think stealthing, however despicable, technically violated any laws.
“Their stories often start the same way: ‘I’m not sure this is rape, but…’” Brodsky wrote.
While victims are still struggling to take action against perpetrators, Brodsky uncovered an online community where men encourage and give ‘tips’ to other men to stealth their partners. They are encouraged to remove or bite into condoms during sex or keep sabotaged condoms with them to ensure ‘loading off’ inside the partners:
Victims of stealthing are exposed to similar consequences as that of rape, including feelings of shame, violation, loss of dignity and autonomy as well as an increased risk of pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
One victim the author interviewed called the act of stealthing ‘rape-adjacent’, while another described what happened with her partner as a ‘blatant violation of what we’d agreed to.’
This account of being ‘stealthed’ was shared on HIV/AIDS Positive Stories anonymously in 2008:
The study makes it very clear to both the reader and the victims, though, that, no matter how it may seem, stealthing is indeed a form of non-consensual sex and, therefore, rape.
Brodsky told the Huffington Post that one of her goals with the article was to provide a vocabulary and create ways for people to talk about what is really common. but often dismissed as just bad sex instead of violence.
We could just hope that with studies like Brodsky’s and the buzz on the internet as a consequence, it could deter men and women from engaging in the practice in future and encourage victims to come forward and speak up.