Civil and criminal justice experts are expressing concern over “stealthing,” in which straight and gay men are removing their condoms during sex without their partners’ consent.
A new study published this month in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law explores the disturbing new trend, which involves online communities of men — straight and gay — encouraging one another to carry out the “rape-adjacent” act.
For the study, author Alexandra Brodsky interviewed victims of stealthing, as well as those online communities, where men promote their peers to “spread their seed” and "root their support [for the practice] in an ideology of male supremacy in which violence is a man’s natural right,” Brodsky told The Huffington Post. Brodsky is a legal fellow for National Women’s Law Center but wrote the paper independently from her job.
The Huffington Post reported that Brodsky’s study cites comment strings from such forums, in which men exchange tips, best practices, advice and support for tactfully removing a condom during sex without a partner’s knowledge.
Though stealthing hasn’t been legally defined as rape in the United States, Switzerland’s high court recently saw such a case, and a man who carried out this very act was convicted of rape, Broadly reported.
Indeed, Brodsky writes in her paper, stealthing can expose victims to similar consequences as rape, including feelings of shame, violation, loss of dignity and autonomy after the act, as well as an increased risk of pregnancy, and exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV and AIDS.
In her study, she encourages victims of stealthing to come forward and seek justice in the absence of a legal statute that officially defines stealthing as sexual assault. Yet, she argued to the Huffington Post that there’s still room for improvement in the justice system, as “many of the myths and assumptions and forms of skepticism that we see from judges approaching rape victims and other kinds of sexual assault victims are likely to be present in stealthing cases.”
“The law isn’t the answer for everyone, and it can’t fix every problem every time,” Brodsky continued. “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.’”