Stealthing: Inside the world of men who remove condoms during sex without consent

This article originally appeared in the Independent‚Äč

Removing a condom during sex - known as stealthing - transforms a consensual act into a non-consensual one. It's a little-discussed form of gender violence, but that is all changing thanks to a new study into the phenomenon.

When a man removes a condom during sex - often unbeknownst to his partner, be they man or woman - he is opening them up to the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

But mostly, he’s committing an act he was not permitted to do, which many people are claiming is “rape-adjacent.”

For most men, the reason they remove condoms - often when changing positions so their partner doesn’t notice - is because they prefer the feel of sex without wearing one. But some also do so to exert power over their partners.

Apart from unwanted pregnancies and STIs, “survivors experienced nonconsensual condom removal as a clear violation of their bodily autonomy and the trust they had mistakenly placed in their sexual partner,” study author Alexandra Brodsky, a legal fellow at the National Women's Law Center, writes.

“Survivors [of stealthing] describe non-consensual condom removal as a threat to their bodily agency and as a dignitary harm,” she explains. “‘You have no right to make your own sexual decisions,’ they are told. ‘You are not worthy of my consideration.’”

Her report explores the phenomenon and shares the experiences of a number of victims.

“Obviously the part that really freaked me out was that it was such a blatant violation of what we’d agreed to,” one woman quoted in the study said. “I set a boundary. I was very explicit.”

Brodsky also shares the story of a woman called Rebecca who had herself been stealthed and now works for a sexual violence crisis hotline.

“Their stories often start the same way,” Rebecca said. “’I’m not sure if this is rape, but...’”

Brodsky says she decided to undertake the research when she was in law school in 2013 and realised how many of her friends were “struggling with forms of mistreatment by sexual partners that weren’t considered part of the recognized repertoire of gender based violence - but that seemed rooted in the same misogyny and lack of respect.”

Many women - for it is predominantly women - who are victims of stealthing feel conflicted about it as they don’t know the act of removing a condom during sex has a name. They knew they felt violated, but “didn’t have the vocabulary” to process it, Brodsky explained to the HuffPost.

“Everyone knew that it felt like a serious violation,” she says. “Everyone knew it was a betrayal of trust. 

“A number of the people I talked to felt like because it wasn't something they'd heard discussed, because it wasn't something they had a name for, they struggled to know how to think about it in the context of other disrespectful and violent sexual experiences they'd had.”

Brodsky hopes her research will end this by shedding light on the practice, as it’s possible stealthing is on the rise.

As part of her research, Brodsky delved into dark corners of the internet where she found communities of men discussing how to get away with stealthing and swapping tips. These are men who think it is their “right” to “spread their seed” with every woman they have sex with.

“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.”

One man, for example, has published a “comprehensive guide” to committing the act:
He reveals how his first experience of stealthing gave him a rush “more intense than I can describe” and how he’s over time developed techniques that make sure he “shot my load deep inside the girl’s unsuspecting ****.”

“Of course,” he writes, “You can always try the, 'What's wrong? I thought you knew it was off? You mean you didn't feel it? I thought you knew!!' approach which for me has had a surprisingly high success rate.”

Brodksy believes stealthing may violate a number of criminal and civil laws and victims have the right to pursue justice, but none of the victims in the study took legal action.

However, earlier this year a Swiss man was convicted of rape for stealthing in a landmark case.

“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,” she writes.

But many of the existing laws are insufficient: “We know that the law doesn’t work for gender violence survivors,” she told HuffPost

“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.”

In the UK, the the Istanbul Convention, which aims to bring violence against women - including all non-consensual acts of a sexual nature - was ratified earlier this year, so stealthing would definitely come under that.

Brodsky thinks a new law specific to condom removal should be introduced.

Furthermore, she doesn’t want to give any power to the men who commit stealthing: “I think that term really trivialises the harm; it obscures the violence and makes it sound sneaky and maybe regrettable but ultimately an inevitable part of sex, and that's not true. We deserve better than that.

If it seems that we're pushing this message, we are. We know that it happens and more and more we're hearing about guys whipping off condoms at swingers parties. Don't be that guy!

27 Comments

Bustylady1984
More than two weeks ago
More of a respectful thing for the females choice if she wants the guy with or without a condom, if you don't like the females decision - your a absolute disgrace for not learning to respect others choices!!!

From recent experience - after finding out the real truth about my coward ex cheating on me through this site; for any guy who I may meet - I want the guy to wear one regardless if they're clean & disease free, if they don't respect my wishes they get the boot, I always say now "once a cheater - always will be one if you can't respect your partner & be truthful to them from the beginning"
Austphil
More than a month ago
It may be mostly men, but I have had it tried on me by a woman. We were about to get into some doggy when, she reached between her legs and started to play with my cock and balls I thought she wanted to guide me in, when suddenly she pulled off the condom, took a firm grip and tried to help me in. It all happened in a split second and in the heat of the moment I was a little confused, but pulled away. She made exactly the same claims " it feels a lot better"
i.aim.to.please
More than a month ago
Plain and simple it IS rape, one party is not consenting to the act being performed, them being unawares even gives it more reason to be classified that way.
party24
More than a month ago
Yes it happen to us at a party I catch him on time hi toll me hi did not know ! Ha cock head I wish I can post his name is from Melbourne
beech76
More than a month ago
These guys should be blocked forevermore
leighleigh55
More than a month ago
I am horrified this happens. What a breach of trust
Iwantmore14
More than a month ago
It's a really low act to do that. It's a total violation.
suave46
More than a month ago
This article is great! I love reading them. Your journalists are so creative with their words.
AMM.Editor
More than a month ago
Unfortunately we can't take credit for this one, it's a reprint from a newspaper. But we hope you like some of our original articles too. :-)
exportme
More than a month ago
isnt it bordering on Rape ??
1thatlikesthat
More than a month ago
Well i don't know whether it should have a name but certainly a woman can tell if a man is sheathed or not. Men think it feels different well a woman can feel the difference between a Condom and no Condom. I have always been able to tell if the guy is wearing one or not and in the heat of the moment a sensible woman knows and can tell the difference of a dick without and a dick with one. Personally unless I am in a relationship a Condom is always use. No one wants any surprises. It's just bad manners not to use one. I wouldn't trust a guy to say he doesn't have any nasties as guys usually don't know they have something until they do and will say virtually anything to have sex.
ordinaryguy55
More than a month ago
It's more than bad manners, it's sexual assult, at the very least.
BBW.69
More than a month ago
This has happened with me twice.
I will no longer play with this person. And as per usual I've had all my checks. It is a form of violation / misuse of trust
onlyoral4u
More than a month ago
you should have had him charged
1DoorMan
More than a month ago
We have kicked out Men for this at Party's and are band from returning, and stopped guys and reported others to Hosts of other Partys.
Its a Dog that would do this to a Women that has consented to playing and he still wants to do is rip his condom off its rape as far as we are concerned .
hotbajan
More than a month ago
That is just plain immature and stupid. The guys who do this have absolutely no respect for individuals and are just plain irresponsible. Think of it this way, if you are stupid enough to do this and the woman either decides to press charges or becomes pregnant, I hope the lose your ass in jail or the woman takes you for 50% of all your assets for child support and pre-natal and childbirth bills cause you are plain and simple...a dumbass!!!
Handyguy84
More than a month ago
I've heard of this personally I let my partner make the call for on or off its their choice to Learn to respect their choice for those who do this low act
NightRod67
More than a month ago
It's an animal act, lock the animals up and throw away the key and one can hope karma will do what they have done to others and it mentally torments the mind out of them.
Leolady727
More than a month ago
Animals don't do revolting things like this, only humans do.
NightRod67
More than a month ago
Yes animals are better behaved,I should have put human animals no inference to the furry kind.
Slimshaddy
More than a month ago
Criminal act to say the least, consent is missing in this act, Id call it a form of rape; we need to legislate accordingly to make this sick vile behaviour illegal and make it a form of statutory rape..
NightRod67
More than a month ago
Great call Fitbit73 couldn't agree more.
Cheers
BicrssdrssrCpl
More than a month ago
there is actually a guy going to court over this in australia and i am pretty sure people have gone to court overseas ...
Melody2973
More than a month ago
Disgusting :(

Hard enough to get men to wear them, now you have to deal with this crap :(
etep169
More than a month ago
I cant see the reason why they are removing it. I don't mind wearing one as they are so thin and feel nearly natural
SpiceSpiceBaby
More than a month ago
A complete abuse of trust and certainly a display of no respect at the very least. A total creep act in my opinion.
Henmvy2
More than a month ago
The Swiss guy was convicted of rape 3 months before this research on stealthing went online. He appealed against it and had rape reduced to 'defilement', which is still a criminal offence.
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