There’s a new creepy and incredibly dangerous trend going on in certain online forums, in which men “train” other men to secretly remove their condom during sex.
This disturbing practice, known as “stealthing” exposes victims to the risk of unwanted pregnancy as well as serious sexually transmitted diseases.
Currently most countries in the world have the legal tools to face this offence, though in practice, social prejudice and a difficulty in proving non-consent make the crime difficult to penalise.
A recent study titled “Rape-adjacent: Imagining Legal Responses to Non Consensual Condom Removal” by Alexandra Brodsky for the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, takes a thorough look into the online forums where this practice is encouraged, and collects interviews with victims stealthing.
People who promote the criminal practice online cite misogyny and male sexual supremacy as their justification. “Stealthers” say they get a special thrill from degrading their sexual partners and consider the practice as a male’s natural right.
“That’s how god created this universe, we are born to do it,” states an online comment quoted in the study.
The practice is also present among the gay community. Curiously, even if it’s more than obvious that reproduction is not an option, transgressors display a similar rhetoric based on a man’s “right” to spread his seed.
The paper concludes that a new legal statute is necessary in order to provide victims with a viable course of action.
“The law isn’t the answer for everyone, and it can’t fix every problem every time,” Brodsky said to the Huffington Post. “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.’”
Under society’s current mindset and legal apparatus, it’s difficult for a victim to claim sexual assault when the culprit is a known partner and the sexual experience – minus the stealthing – was a consensual one. “The law is often skeptical of survivors, especially if they have had a sexual history or past with someone,” says Brodsky.
None of the “stealthing” victims interviewed in the study considered bringing legal action, and what is more worrying, records don’t show the practice has been condemned in any court in the United States. However, in January, a court in Switzerland did convict a man for rape for taking off his condom without his partner’s consent.