An alarming new study released this week explores a practice called stealthing – where men remove condoms during sex without their partner’s consent – and the online communities which encourage this behavior.
“Nonconsensual condom removal during sexual intercourse exposes victims to physical risks of pregnancy and disease and … is experienced by many as a grave violation of dignity and autonomy,” states the study, which was published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.
“Such condom removal, popularly known as ‘stealthing’, can be understood to transform consensual sex into nonconsensual sex by one of two theories, one of which poses a risk of over-criminalization by demanding complete transparency about reproductive capacity and sexually transmitted infections.”
The study’s author Alexandra Brodsky said she wanted to study this phenomenon after she realized so many of her female friends were having negative sexual experiences.
They were “struggling with forms of mistreatment by sexual partners that weren’t considered part of the recognized repertoire of gender based violence, but that seemed rooted in the same misogyny and lack of respect,” Brodsky told The Huffington Post.
Many had experienced “stealthing” but weren’t sure how to handle the situation.
“Survivors [of stealthing] describe nonconsensual condom removal as a threat to their bodily agency and as a dignitary harm,” Brodsky writes in the study. “‘You have no right to make your own sexual decisions,’ they are told. ‘You are not worthy of my consideration’.”
What’s worse, is that there is a growing online community of men encouraging others to practice “stealthing”.
“Internet forums provide not only accounts from victims but encouragement from perpetrators. Promoters provide advice, along with explicit descriptions, for how to successfully trick a partner and remove a condom during sex,” says the study.
Brosky opens the study with the story of a woman named Rebecca, who had been “stealthed” herself, and found many other women were calling the sexual violence crisis hotline where she worked, sharing similar experiences.
“Their stories often start the same way,” Rebecca said. “’I’m not sure if this is rape, but …’”
Another victim interviewed in the study, identified as Irin, describes her experience: “The next morning we woke up and after a couple of awkward moments during which I told him about a weird dream I had, he said, ‘Wait, so you know I came inside of you last night, right?’
“To which I replied, having ensured he was wearing a condom before any p-in-v action happened, ‘Uh … what? Weren’t you wearing a condom?’ to which he said something like ‘I took it off.’”
Brodsky said “stealthing” victims have to deal with the potential repercussions of unprotected sex – pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases – as well as confusion and shame over the lack of consent involved.
“One of my goals with the article, and in proposing a new statute, is to provide a vocabulary and create ways for people to talk about what is a really common experience that just is too often dismissed as just ‘bad sex’ instead of ‘violence,’” she said.
This article was originally published in news.com.au