Some dudes are sneakily removing their condoms during sex, aka "stealthing." And it's more than just flat-out wrong—it's rape.

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Updated: October 06, 2017

Discussions of "stealthing"-the act of covertly removing a condom after protection was agreed upon-is finally making its way to Washington, DC.

Stealthing became part of the national rape conversation after Yale Law School graduate Alexandra Brodsky published a study earlier this year detailing how men in certain online groups would trade tips about how to trick their partner into not using protection. This entailed things like faking a broken condom or using certain sex positions so that the woman can't see the man remove the condom, all banking on the idea that she wouldn't realize what had happened until it was too late. Basically, these manchildren feel like their desire to go bareback trumps a woman's right not to get pregnant or contract a lifelong, sometimes deadly, disease. (PSA: The risk of STDs is way higher than you think.)

This isn't just happening in a few obscure fetish chat groups, either. Brodsky discovered that many of her female friends and acquaintances had similar stories. But while women reported feeling uncomfortable and upset, most weren't sure if stealthing "counted" as rape.

Well, it does count. And it's time the law recognized it. If a woman agrees to have sex with a condom, removing said condom without her approval means that sex is no longer consensual. She agreed to sex under the terms of the condom. Change those terms, and you change her willingness to proceed with the act.

We can't emphasize this enough: Saying "yes" to having sex doesn't mean you've automatically consented to every sex act imaginable. Nor does it mean the other person can change the terms, like removing a condom, without your okay.

And the fact that the men are doing it "stealthily" shows that they know it's wrong. Otherwise, why not just be up-front about it? (Hint: Because having power over the woman is part of what makes stealthing appealing to some men.)

Thankfully, people are catching on to the abhorrent practice and lawmakers are listening. In May, Wisconsin and California introduced bills that would change the definition of rape to include stealthing. Then, Democratic representatives Ro Khanna (California) and Carolyn Maloney (New York) sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee asking for a hearing on this issue.

"Nonconsensual condom removal should be recognized as a violation of trust and dignity," Rep. Maloney said in a statement. "I am horrified that we even need to be having this conversation, that a sexual partner would violate their partner's trust and consent like this. Stealthing is sexual assault."

For more information on stealthing or sexual assault of any kind, or to get help if you've been victimized, go to RAINN.org, chat online with a counselor, or call the 24-hour national hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

There is no national petition yet asking for stealthing to specifically be made illegal, but two states are collecting signatures: California and Alaska.

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