What is stealthing and what does it mean? This is perhaps the first question that pops into mind when one is reading about a gender based violent act. For the unfamiliar, stealthing refers to a non-consensual sexual act in which a man removes his condom without the consent of his partner.

 

This term, used by Alexandra Brodsky, verbalises an act that women often experience during sex but are left speechless and violated after it’s taken place. Brodsky’s study on stealthing, which has appeared in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, includes interviews with women who have experienced this form of abuse. In fact, one woman described stealthing as “rape adjacent.”

 

Brodsky writes in her study, “Survivors [of stealthing] describe non-consensual condom removal as a threat to their bodily agency and as dignitary harm.”  There are many other traumas that this act brings forth; women fear pregnancy, STDs, HIV and AIDS as a result of stealthing.

 

Men who take part in this act are those who believe in male supremacy, finds Brodksy. She details comments found in online communities where men believe that they have a right to “spread their seed.”  

 

Although Brodsky says that victims of stealthing can look to the law for recourse, the study itself highlights an important aspect of sex, one that’s often ignored: consent. Sexual partners manufacture consent in their own personal ways but the writing on the wall is clear: consent can be taken back even after its given. And remembering this could makes all the difference between an intimate act and rape.