“Stealthing” is the act of removing a condom without the other person’s knowledge or consent. If passed, a new bill in California will make the state the first to make this act illegal. (1)
Bill To Make Stealthing Illegal In California
When we think of consent, we usually think about whether someone says yes to having sex with someone else. What we don’t think about as much is what consent means beyond that. This is where ‘stealthing’ comes in. (1)
Stealthing is the act of one person removing the condom when the other person doesn’t know and hasn’t agreed to it. Up until now in the state of California (and elsewhere), there was no real law against this. This month, however, that could change. California is looking to pass bill AB 453 to make stealthing illegal. (1)
What Bill AB 453 Says
Bill AB 453 categorizes stealthing as a form of sexual battery. This will allow survivors to sue for both emotional and physical damages. AB 453 will change California’s definition of sexual battery to include anyone who:
“causes contact between a penis, from which a condom has been removed, and the intimate part of another who did not verbally consent to the condom being removed.” (1)
When Did Stealthing First Arise?
Stealthing has been around and has been happening long before it was ever given a name. Typically, it involves a man removing a condom with the female or gay male partner’s consent. It came to light in the public eye, however, in 2017 in a report by Amanda Brodsky for the Columbian Journal of Gender and Law. (2)
In her paper, she talked about what legal repercussions stealthing should have and what victims have a right to. She deemed the act as “rape-adjacent”. People who argue that stealthing should be included in the sexual assault legislature explain that it is sexual violence because it turns consensual sex into a non-consensual act. The victim consented to having sex with a condom, not without one. (2)
Stealthing is Dangerous
Stealthing puts both partners’ physical health at risk. It makes each person susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases, and it puts a woman at risk for an unwanted pregnancy. (2)
“There’s also the violation of trust, autonomy, and dignity, which could have long-term psychological impact,” says Elizabeth L. Jeglic, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, sexual violence prevention researcher, and professor of psychology at John Jay College in New York City. (2)
Why Do People Do It?
Naturally, there are many men who say that sex just feels better for them without a condom. This, of course, is not a good reason to remove one without the other person’s consent. What researchers have found, however, is that stealthing is about more than just pleasure: It’s about misogynists asserting their “dominance” over women. (2)
“online writers who practice or promote nonconsensual condom removal root their actions in misogyny and investment in male sexual supremacy. While one can imagine a range of motivations for ‘stealthers’—increased physical pleasure, a thrill from degradation—online discussions suggest offenders and their defenders justify their actions as a natural male instinct—and natural male right.” says Brodsky. (2)
Though California is only the first state to change the laws in this way, we can only hope the rest of the country will do the same.
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