There’s an appalling new study that explores a practice being circulated online by the name of “stealthing,” where a man removes his condom without asking for his partner’s consent or even alerting his intent to do so.
Alexandra Brodsky conducted the study for the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, and the Huffington Post reported that the study includes a number of interviews from victims of the practice along with an analysis of this subset of (honestly despicable) men who feel entitled to condom-less sex regardless of their partner’s wishes.
Brodsky also uncovers the online communities who label stealthing as a male right, encourage each other to try it, and swap tips on how best to pull it off (pun not intended.) She notes that stealthing has roots in an “ideology of male supremacy” and valuing men’s comfort or entitlement over women’s basic safety and rights.
Brodsky told the Huffington Post that she became interested in the phenomenon when she recognized just how many of her female friends were dealing with “mistreatment by sexual partners” that aren’t recognized as common gender-based violences by our society, “but that seemed rooted in the same misogyny.”
One of the women who gave an interview in the study is Rebecca, a victim of stealthing who now works on a sexual violence crisis hotline, where she often encounters stories of the same practice.
“Their stories often start the same way,” Rebecca said. “’I’m not sure if this is rape, but…’”
It certainly shares characteristics with rape: it violates a woman’s consent and forces an act upon them. It forces the dangers of STDs, pregnancy, and more onto victims when they had requested a condom for a reason.
One woman interviewed called her experience “rape-adjacent.”
While this practice likely violates a number of laws, it isn’t well-known enough yet to be judged clearly by law, so many women don’t know how to or whether to report such an act. Brodsky goes on to explain that our society has a number of systems in place that harm sexual violence survivors more than help them. She advocates for a new statute altogether to give victims the vocabulary to discuss the practice and to report stealthing if they so choose.
Read the entire study here.