Stealthing appears to be the rise, hovering over the boundaries of consensual sex and sexual assault. But what is ‘stealthing’ exactly? It sure does sound sneaky.
Well, that’s because it is sneaky. ‘Stealthing’ is when you remove your condom in the middle of sex, unbeknownst to your partner. The sex is consensual, but the removal of the condom isn’t. It’s a secret act that may end up spreading STDs and might just get that lady pregnant.
Is ‘Stealthing’ considered Sexual Assault in the U.S.?
At this moment, the act of ‘stealthing’ is not considered sexual assault by law in the United States. Tampa Defense Attorney Hunter Chamberlain says, “To change this from a legal behavior to an illegal behavior, the legislature or the courts are going to have to further define what consent means,” and “As of yet, that statute does not exist.”
Plenty of men who practice ‘stealthing’ brag about their sexcapades on message boards. They believe it’s their right “to spread their seed.”
A study from the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law revealed the case of Rebecca, a woman who worked on the sexual assault crisis hotline. She reports receiving phone calls from women who were ‘stealthed’ by their sex partner. “Their stories often start the same way,” Rebecca said. “’I’m not sure if this is rape, but…’”
The author of the study, Alexandra Brodsky added that, “Survivors experience real harms ― emotional, financial, and physical ― to which the law might provide remedy through compensation or simply an opportunity to be heard and validated.”
In the study, Brodsky writes, “Survivors [of stealthing] describe nonconsensual condom removal as a threat to their bodily agency and as a dignitary harm. ‘You have no right to make your own sexual decisions,’ they are told. ‘You are not worthy of my consideration.’”
“One can note,” Brodsky writes, “that proponents of ‘stealthing’ root their support in an ideology of male supremacy in which violence is a man’s natural right.”
But what about ‘Stealthing’ in Other Countries?
In Switzerland, a man was convicted of rape as a result of ‘stealthing.’ A 47-year-old Swiss man met a lady on Tinder. They both agreed upon consensual sex with a condom. But later, she realized he had removed that condom sometime during intercourse without her knowledge or approval.
The highest court in Switzerland took on this case. The Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne decided that this man’s actions do constitute rape. He received a one-year suspended sentence. The man’s lawyer described the verdict as “a first in Switzerland.”
Meanwhile, the Swedish government wants to try Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in court for allegations of ‘stealthing.’ Assange maintains his innocence and has sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. On May 19, 2017, Swedish prosecutors dropped the sexual assault charges against Assange. However, he can still be arrested for the charge he received for skipping bail.
In the United Kingdom, the act of ‘stealthing’ is considered sexual assault in the Sexual Offenses Act 2003. In particular, Section 74, which provides legal guidance, mandates conditional consent.