Condom ‘stealthing’ is sexual violence, bill says.

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HR King
May 29, 2001
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A one-sided burden. A betrayal. A violation. “Rape-adjacent.”
These are some of the ways women have described “stealthing,” a term used to describe the act of removing a condom during intercourse without the other partner’s consent. While victims of stealthing tend to be clear about its harms, what has been less clear is how to define it. Is it assault? And could — or rather, would — the law do anything about it?

Federal legislation introduced this month could offer not just clarity, but also a legal remedy for survivors of stealthing. One bill introduced last month would explicitly name stealthing as a form of sexual violence and create a legal pathway for victims to sue perpetrators for damages and relief. A separate bill, called the Consent Is Key Act, would encourage states to pass their own laws authorizing civil damages for survivors by increasing funding for federal domestic violence programs in states that pass those laws.


The federal legislation, brought forward by Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), Norma J. Torres (D-Calif.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), mirrors a first-of-its-kind California law passed in October. That law expanded the definition of sexual battery in the state’s civil code to include removing a condom without verbal consent. (The U.S. House bill defines stealthing as removing any “sexual protection barrier” without the consent of each person involved in the sexual act.)

“Stealthing is a grave violation of autonomy, dignity, and trust that is considered emotional and sexual abuse,” reads the House bill, titled the Stealthing Act of 2022.
Opinion | California calls condom ‘stealthing’ what it is: A violation
It’s a significant step forward for an important but overlooked issue concerning bodily autonomy and reproductive rights, said Alexandra Brodsky, an attorney and author of “Sexual Justice.”


Brodsky fears that, because of “deeply entrenched” myths about rape and sexual assault within the legal system, lawyers, judges and juries aren’t “primed to recognize non-consensual condom removal as [sexual assault] unless legislators explicitly define the offense.”
Brodsky’s 2017 Yale study on the topic, “‘Rape-Adjacent’: Imagining Legal Responses to Nonconsensual Condom Removal,” has been credited with bringing widespread attention to the practice and its impact, as well as how the law might address it. California Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who authored California’s stealthing law, said she had been working on developing this kind of legislation since reading Brodsky’s paper.
The Washington Post caught up with Brodsky to talk about the federal legislation and how our understanding of stealthing has evolved over the past five years.

What to know​

Who is affected?​

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Both men and women are affected by stealthing, Brodsky said. In the last several years, a number of researchers have attempted to quantify how many people experience nonconsensual condom removal.



In one Melbourne study, which surveyed more than 2,000 people visiting a local clinic over a three-month period in 2017, nearly one in three of the women surveyed said they had been “stealthed” at some point in their life. About 19 percent of men who had sex with other men said this had happened to them. Another 2019 study — which recruited women 21 to 30 with “increased sexual risk characteristics”— found that 12 percent of respondents said a partner engaged in stealthing (nearly half said they had experienced some form of coercive resistance to condoms).
Brodsky’s own research included interviewing survivors of stealthing, as well as studying online forums where men gave each other tips on how to successfully remove a condom without their partner noticing, she said.
So much of the way men talked about it, Brodsky said, “was about a man’s need to spread his seed, and a sort of entitlement to women’s bodies.”



These men “correctly understood [stealthing] as an exercise in dominance and entitlement,” Brodsky added.
One narrow 2019 study that recruited 626 men who were “inconsistent condom users” between the ages of 21 and 30 found that 10 percent said they had removed a condom without their partner’s consent; men with greater hostility toward women and more severe sexual aggression had “significantly higher odds of engaging in nonconsensual condom removal behavior,” the study’s author wrote.

How do victims talk about stealthing?​

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Many survivors of stealthing have raised concerns about potentially contracting sexually transmitted infections or getting pregnant. What’s more, Brodsky said, “many of them had really experienced it as a denial of their right to make decisions about their bodies.”

One woman who talked to Cosmopolitan about her experience being stealthed described an explicit conversation in which she told her partner, “if we didn’t have protection, we didn’t have sexual intercourse, period.” Others described starting off their sexual encounters with protection, only to realize afterward that a condom had been removed or not used at all.






In the United Kingdom, stealthing is legally considered a form of rape, though a 2021 BBC article noted there has only ever been one successful prosecution of stealthing as rape, in 2019. Stealthing also figured prominently in Michaela Coel’s 2020 critically acclaimed HBO series “I May Destroy You.” Some viewers reported that watching the show helped them name and process their own sexual trauma.
Katie Russell, a spokesperson for the advocacy and support organization Rape Crisis, told the BBC she thought the term “stealthing,” while helping people to describe a particular act, could also be “a bit misleading.”

“Ultimately what we’re talking about is rape,” she said. “It’s not something that’s a bit cheeky or naughty to try to get away with — this is something serious that can have really damaging impacts for other person’s whole life and health.”



 
Mar 11, 2020
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You guys ever had a chick wrap her legs around you so you cum in her? ****ing scary shit. If this is a real thing hell yeah it should be a crime.