ICYMI, there's a new sexual term making the rounds, so to speak — stealthing, aka when a man intentionally removes his condom during sex without his partner's consent. First, however, you may be wondering where the term came from. Alexandra Brodsky recently published a paper, "'Rape-Adjacent': Imagining Legal Responses to Nonconsensual Condom Removal," on the issue in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. "Nonconsensual condom removal during sexual intercourse exposes victims to physical risks of pregnancy and disease and, interviews make clear, is experienced by many as a grave violation of dignity and autonomy," Brodsky wrote. "Such condom removal, popularly known as 'stealthing,' can be understood to transform consensual sex into nonconsensual sex by one of two theories, one of which poses a risk of over-criminalization by demanding complete transparency about reproductive capacity and sexually transmitted infections."
If you're irate right now thinking about this, I'm with you. In fact, on a similar note, earlier this year in Switzerland, a man was convicted of rape for removing a condom during sex. So, it's definitely not a topic to be taken lightly.
Stealthing Is Sexual Assault
"Stealthing is NOT OK because it is deception; it is essentially sexual assault and/or battery, and goes against the principles of consent," Dr. Michael Krychman, MD, OB/GYN, sexual medicine gynecologist and the executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine, tells Bustle. "The woman is agreeing consensually to protected intercourse — she has not agreed to unprotected intercourse. With sabotage of the condom, it opens up the possibility of assault — she is at risk for STIs and pregnancy. Sabotage of sexuality puts both the stealther and stealthee at risk — not only for sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, hepatitis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, but also for pregnancy for the stealthee. Plus, STIs have far-reaching implications, not limited to infertility and chronic pelvic pain."
How Should You Deal With Stealthing?
OK, now you may be wondering what to do if stealthing happens to you. Whether you barely know your sexual partner or if you know them well, you cannot ignore that the stealthing occurred. After all, your health is at risk. "Go to your gynecologist ASAP and get a complete STI evaluation and assessment," Dr. Krychman says. "You may also consider presumptive treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and a comprehensive follow-up to assess for pregnancy is important, too."
What About Your Relationship With The Person Who Did The Stealthing?
Aside from all the above ramifications, stealthing is such a violation of trust, I cannot imagine how someone would be able to stay with a person who did it to them. "Stealthing is a breach of trust and is deception," Dr. Krcyhman says. "It takes much time to develop trust, which can be broken or shattered in an instant. You should consider counseling to assess whether or not you should remain in this potentially destructive relationship. Reliability and consistency are the foundations for trust, and stealthing may irreparably affect the ability to build a productive and healthy trusting relationship. Your health and life are at stake."
As Dr. Krychman says, with stealthing, your health and life are at stake. As for how to deal with stealthing, one thing is for sure: Focus on seeking medical attention, then focus on who did the stealthing. Hopefully, it will not become the "trend" that people are talking about, but you can never be too cautious.