What Is "Stealthing" During Sex And Why Is It Putting Women At Risk?

A young couple having a kiss and a cuddle
Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

This is seriously scary.

When it comes to happy safe sex, there aren't many rules. Consent, however, is non-negotiable. Some may think "consent" is just about getting permission to "do the deed", but an alarming new "trend" indicates that the rules of consent may be a little more complicated than that. 

A new study published in Colombia Journal of Gender and Law found that more and more men were participating in frightening new behavior called "stealthing".

What is stealthing and why is it wrong? 

Stealthing is when two people are having (or about to have) penetrative sex and a man removes his condom without notifying his partner. This is not limited to heterosexual relationships either. Stealthing can occur in both gay and straight sexual encounters that involve a penis.

This dangerous behaviour, aside from being morally reprehensible, puts partners at risk for STIs, unwanted pregnancies, and emotional trauma. 

The study also indicated that there were pockets of the internet that encouraged men to do this, saying that they were "entitled" to ejaculate inside their sexual partners. 

Of the victims, the study said, "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." 

Durex condoms image

via iStock

Why is stealthing an issue of consent?

When someone agrees to have sex with a condom, it's not the same as having sex without a condom. One respondent in this study called this particular behaviour "rape adjacent".  

No one is entitled to do anything to you without your permission. So, if this happen, it's not "boys being boys" or anything like that. It's assault. Whether it's a casual hookup, a relationship, or even a spouse, removing a condom without first seeking permission is assault. 

Young couple having a smooch

via iStock

Can you be arrested for stealthing?

Short answer. Yes. 

A man in Switzerland was recently convicted of rape after removing a condom whilst having sex on a Tinder date. It was a landmark case that signaled a major shift in sexual assault prosecution in the country.

Unfortunately, the law is not uniform and many people in positions of power still mistakenly believe that consenting to sex with a condom covers every type of sexual behaviour. 

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