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'Stealthing': Could This Controversial New Sex Trend Be Considered Rape?

Apr 30, 2017 04:01 PM EDT
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The author argues that the act of stealthing may be rooted in the assumption that man has the natural right to violence. This male supremacy ideology is evident in online chat forums for men, where they profess their experiences on stealthing and their right to "spread their seeds."
(Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A disturbing new sex trend called stealthing has recently gotten a lot of heat after a study explored the consequences of this alarming sexual act that involves men removing condoms during intercourse without their partner's consent.

According to the study, published in Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, the nonconsensual removal of protection during sex exposes the person involved with risk of diseases (i.e., HIV, AIDS, STIs) and pregnancy. Alexandra Brodsky, the study's author, wrote that stealthing could be categorized as a "grave violation of dignity and autonomy" that breaks civil and criminal laws.

Brodsky interviewed people who experienced stealthing. Most of the women knew something was wrong but did not have the words to describe the action, Huffington Post reports.

“Survivors [of stealthing] describe nonconsensual condom removal as a threat to their bodily agency and as a dignitary harm. ‘You have no right to make your own sexual decisions,’ they are told. ‘You are not worthy of my consideration,'" Brodsky wrote.

The author also argues that the act of stealthing may be rooted in the assumption that man has the natural right to violence. This ideology of male supremacy is evident in online chat forums, where men share their experiences on stealthing and their right to "spread their seeds."

However, could stealthing be considered rape?

Vice noted that in 2016, a 47-year-old man in Switzerland was convicted of rape after removing his condom during sex without the consent of his partner who he met on Tinder. The Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne ruled that stealthing constitutes an act of rape and gave the man a one-year suspended sentence. 

Until today, no one from the women that Brodsky interviewed has filed a rape case from their experiences of being stealthed. Forbes said that there are various reasons why rape victims choose to keep their lips sealed instead of going to the police. These include embarrassment, shame and fear that the rapist might get back at them.

“Survivors experience real harms ― emotional, financial, and physical ― to which the law might provide remedy through compensation or simply an opportunity to be heard and validated,” Brodsky wrote.

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