Many women have found themselves in the unfortunate position of listening to a man with whom they were not in a committed relationship with explain why sex without a condom “feels so much better.” Hopefully, said man obliged to your request for protection and put on a condom — and kept it on. If, however, he put on a condom, took it off without your consent, and re-entered you, he has committed an act of sexual assault according to two bills introduced in Washington and California.
Stealthing is the official name of this crude “pull out” method, which is hardly a new “trend” as some news reports have pegged it. What’s new is the attention the act has received as late, due in large part to a study published last month by Yale Law School student Alexandra Brodsky that theoretically outlined possible legal and civil remedies to nonconsensual condom removal. Thankfully, lawmakers were paying attention.
According to BuzzFeed News, “Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Melissa Sargent was the first in the nation to propose a bill that would modify her state’s interpretation of consent to ensure that sex is not consensual if a ‘partner removes a sexually protective device, like a condom, during a sexual act without telling the other person who agreed to have sex with that device in tact,'” she told the outlet. Last week, Rep. Cristina Garcia of California also introduced legislation that would “expand the state’s definition of rape to include tampering with a protective device during sex without the other person’s knowledge.”
“It’s no longer consensual if you take a condom off without my permission,” said Garcia who shared she’s been a victim of the act which may soon be considered a crime in the eyes of the law. “It’s about power and you think you have ownership of someone’s body and you don’t.”
Hack interviewed a man named Brendan who unashamedly admits to regularly stealthing women and not seeing anything wrong with it. He told host Tom Tilley when asked how many times he’s stealth someone:
“Most of the time. If I’m asked to put one on – which isn’t as often as you might think. People are pretty chilled with doing it bareback.”
As far as how long into sex it takes him to pull a condom off, he cavalierly replied, “I don’t know. Pull it out, take it off, put it back in. Everyone’s happy.”
He said most times women don’t notice when he’s removed the condom, but if they happen to notice and ask him to put the condom back on, he said, “Normally I will,” adding, “No-one’s ever angry but if someone asks me to put it back on I’ll put it back on for sure. That’s fair.”
If Reps. Garcia and Sargent get their way, what will also be fair is prosecuting men like Brendan who have no qualms about stealthing women, although both acknowledge ideals surrounding consent will make it difficult for victims to prove their cases even if the sexual assault classification does happen.
Has this ever happened to you? Do you think stealthing should be considered sexual assault?