If the term “stealthing” is something that’s unfamiliar to you, you’re not alone. Up until recently, if you asked people what they thought the word meant, a whole myriad of answers may have been offered up.
Now, a dark universal understanding of the term is slowly coming to light, and sadly it’s one that many women and gay men can relate to.
According to US-based researcher Alexandra Brodsky, stealthing refers to the act of a man removing a condom during intercourse without the permission of their sexual partner.
“Survivors [of stealthing] describe nonconsensual condom removal as a threat to their bodily agency and as a dignitary harm," Brodsky writes in her study recently published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.
"‘You have no right to make your own sexual decisions,’ they are told. ‘You are not worthy of my consideration.’”
Because not only is stealthing violating and invasive, it's also fraught with potentially unwanted medical outcomes like STIs and pregnancy.
And in addition to being a gender-based form of violence, it's also potentially a criminal act. An act, Brodsky hypothesises, stems from the sense of entitlement, power and patriarchal privilege men believe they hold in sex - or in more simpler terms, the right to go bareback if it's what will bring them more pleasure.
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According to Rebecca, a sexual violence crisis hotline worker and victim of stealthing Brodsky spoke to, the stories she hears of the practice are often eerily similar.