Stealthing: when men remove condoms during sex without consent

‘Stealthing’ is the pop culture name to describe a “new sex trend” reported to be “on the rise”. It refers to the act of deliberately removing a condom during sex without your partner’s knowledge or consent.

For most men, the reason they remove condoms—often when changing positions so their partner does not notice—is because they prefer the feel of sex without wearing one. But some also do so to exert power over their partners. For some, this disturbing trend, results in a rush or euphoria in response to the naughty behaviour.

Some men have online forums where they discuss their methods and their enjoyment when performing this act and deceiving their sexual partners. They brag about their rights of “spreading their seed” and even have guidelines on how to perform a successful “stealth.”

This “new trend” is sexual assault. A man is committing an act he was not permitted to do, which many people are claiming is “rape-adjacent”.

Following a landmark case in Switzerland where a man was given a 12-month suspended sentence for removing a condom without his partner’s knowledge or consent, and a recent report by an America law graduate, stealthing is attracting more mainstream attention.

Apart from unwanted pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV, survivors experienced non-consensual condom removal as a clear violation of their bodily autonomy and the trust they had mistakenly placed in their sexual partner.

Many women—for it is predominantly women—who are victims of stealthing feel conflicted about it as they do not know the act of removing a condom during sex has a name. They know they felt violated, but “didn’t have the vocabulary” to process it.

This practice has yet again made governments question the definition of rape and where lines should be drawn. Several women who have been victims of stealthing agree that it is a form of rape that threatens their agency, leaving them feeling victimised and powerless. Many of them are too ashamed to talk openly about it.

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