Blog Post

Stealthing is Violence Against Women

39375577_sA new form of physical and emotional abuse of women  is winding its way into the already twisted world of casual sex – stealthing – which is the practice of deliberately removing a condom during intercourse even though both partners agreed to use one, and then bragging about it online.

The Washington Times is reporting on the new trend which is prompting a rash of calls to rape crisis centers from women who say the practice is tantamount to rape.

Alexandra Brodsky, a graduate of Yale Law School, authored a research paper about the phenomenon entitled, “‘Rape-Adjacent’: Imagining Legal Responses to Nonconsensual Condom Removal.” Published in last week’s edition of the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Brodsky says there needs to be a law created to protect victims of this practice.

“Nonconsensual condom removal during sexual intercourse exposes victims to physical risks of pregnancy and disease and . . . is experienced by many as a grave violation of dignity and autonomy," she writes.

Brodsky found online forums of men discussing the practice of “stealthing.” Some reported increased physical pleasure and a thrill from the degradation of their partner while other comments suggested men were justified for surreptitiously removing condoms during sex because it was “natural male instinct – and natural male right.”

One perpetrator admitted knowing what he did was wrong but then proceeded to offer detailed instructions on how to commit a “successful stealth.”

Brodsky reports that other men went so far as to say that the women “deserve to be impregnated” and that it’s their right to “spread their seed.”

Women are expressing horror at the practice, telling Brodsky their initial reaction was worry about unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, but many said they felt violated by the incident.

One woman said “the harm mostly had to do with trust. He saw the risk as zero for himself and took no interest in what it might be for me and from a friend and sexual partner.”

Kathleen Kempke, with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, told USA Today that she’s aware of the trend and treats a victim of stealthing the same way she would treat a victim of rape.

“And they deserve the same kind of services and support that a victim that is raped by a stranger or a raped by an acquaintance would get,” said Kempke.

Unfortunately, the law has not yet caught up with this new kind of sex crime.

Tampa Defense Attorney Hunter Chamberlain said as of yet, there are no statutes on the books that enable women to prosecute stealthers. Even though the practice is indeed despicable, it could be very difficult to prove since the sex itself was initially consensual.

“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,” Chamberlain told USA Today.

Brodsky believes there is a way to protect women legally. “The law is clear that one may consent to one form of sexual contact without providing blanket future consent to all sexual content,” she wrote.

She also says that a woman could argue that stealthing is a consent violation because of the risks posed by having sex without a condom.

“Because of the increased risk, the removal of the condom transforms the sexual act into a different act, such that consent to one is not carried over to consent to the other,” Brodsky wrote.

However, she believes a new civil law should be defined and adopted to protect victims of stealthing.

A far less complicated solution is introducing young men and women to the wisdom of God as communicated in that landmark document, Humanae Vitae. They would probably be shocked to learn that Pope Paul VI warned about the risk of this kind of heartless behavior as a result of the use of artificial means of birth control.

“ . . . [A] man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”

Casual sex and the artificial birth control methods that enable it, are now amounting to an epidemic of sex crimes against women. Every nine seconds a woman in America is assaulted or beaten. In the United States, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute, which amounts to more than 10 million abuse victims annually. One in five women will be raped during the course of their life and more than 51 percent of these women will be raped by an intimate partner.

Contrary to the prevailing opinion that promiscuity is liberating ourselves from the constraints of our prudish Christian upbringing, we can only wonder why, when faced with these grim statistics, such an educated society as ours doesn’t admit that something went radically wrong when we stopped relying on the wisdom of God to guide our personal and public lives.

When "liberation" results in this much victimization, it's time to rethink what it means to be liberated.

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