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Stealthing (When a Man Secretly Removes the Condom) in Hetero or Homosexual Relationships

I have a degree in English Literature and Linguistics and currently work in the professional services industry, but writing is my passion.

This article will take a deeper look at the act of "stealthing"—non-consensually removing a condom during sex—and find out what some men think about it.

This article will take a deeper look at the act of "stealthing"—non-consensually removing a condom during sex—and find out what some men think about it.

What Is "Stealthing"?

“Stealthing” is the "non-consensual condom removal during sexual intercourse," according to a study by Alexandra Brodsky in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law—and it’s a growing issue.

Essentially, it’s when a man takes off the condom or purposely damages it during sex.

Mistrust and Sexual Violation

In addition to fears of STIs and pregnancy, stealthing causes serious issues of mistrust and sexual violation. One student and victim of this harmful act said of the person who did it to them: "He saw the risk as zero for himself and took no interest in what it might be for me, and that hurt."

However, Brodsky's study focuses on heterosexual relationships, and particularly from a female point of view, so I decided to delve into the gay community first and find out the thoughts of some homosexual men on the matter.

Stealthing Within the Gay Community

Marty Pilkiewicz, a young gay man and open activist, says he doesn’t believe it’s ever happened to him, but it’s something he’s always been paranoid of, especially when having a one night stand:

“I always watch the fella put [a condom] on and sometimes help them put it on, then during sex I’ve checked and I physically look at it after. I haven’t had unprotected sex since 2011 and I was in a relationship then.”

Marty had never heard of stealthing until I asked him about it, and he personally doesn’t think it’s an epidemic amongst the gay community:

"Hardly any gay men would be so malicious as to trick anyone like that, as I don’t think many straight men would be either. It baffles me as to why they would want to do that, as young men don’t want kids, so why would they risk getting a girl pregnant by removing a condom?”

If someone removes a condom without telling the other person, then it negates the validity of consent.

If someone removes a condom without telling the other person, then it negates the validity of consent.

Why Would a Man Secretly Remove or Damage the Condom?

This is an obvious question but, at the end of the day, a lot of men simply don’t care whether a woman gets pregnant or not. Many of them either don’t think it’s their problem or don’t believe it will ever happen to them, an outlook which can also apply to their attitudes towards STDs. (There’s also the fact that risk assessment may not be their main mental priority in the heat of the moment.)

Another young gay man I spoke to was "Matthew." He said that if he’s using a condom during sex, he would never remove it without asking his partner, but “if it tears we usually continue without it based on a mutual agreement.” Although Matthew also said that “sexually transmitted diseases are rife in the community and it’s so dangerous, especially with the likes of HIV.”

Is Stealthing Rape?

For their own definitions of rape and sexual assault, Merriam-Webster notes that someone can be incapable of valid consent due to, among other things, "deception." Thus, even on a purely definitional terms, stealthing can indeed be considered rape or sexual assault.

Though there have yet to be clear legal precedent cases in the United States, California has already banned the practice. Additionally, Australia has criminalized the practice as well.

Nevertheless, some men feel differently. The last gay man I questioned on the matter was "Patrick." He said:

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“I don’t consider it rape, it’s just putting someone at the risk of STDs or pregnancy when they’ve taken the proper precautions and you’ve taken that away from them. It’s like a violation of trust, but I wouldn’t go as far to say rape.”

Michael too thought of stealthing as a condemnable, non-consensual act, but not rape.

A Man's "Right" to Unprotected Sex

The deeper I delved into my online research, I found that stealthing isn’t a new thing. It was actually a popular term within the gay community, with many people promoting it within porn and their sex lives.

One website, Homo Culture, shared an article about its dangers back in 2015 warning men to be wary of it, but it was never known as anything other than a “trick” or just a popular sex “trend.”

In fact, there are multiple online forums that support a man’s right to stealth, and Alexandra Brodsky picked up on this in her study as well. She interviewed people from these online communities and found that these men feel it's their right to “spread their seed” and have “an ideology of male supremacy in which violence is a man’s natural right.” Slightly terrifying.

"A lot of men simply don’t care whether a woman gets pregnant or not. Many of them either don’t think it’s their problem or don’t believe it will ever happen to them, an outlook which can also apply to their attitudes towards STDs."

What Do Straight Men Think?

I turned to heterosexual men next to find out their perspective, as I couldn’t find any articles online where a straight man was ever questioned on his thoughts about it.

One guy I found couldn’t actually get his head around it that stealthing was a real thing. He thought it was hyped up by the media and "feminazis” because he didn’t think anyone would actually do it. But he went on to say that if it did happen to someone, they would be “dumb as f*** not to have noticed it happening to them in the first place.” He was a delight. In the same breath though, he said he has never done it himself.

In fact, no man I spoke to said they had ever partaken in stealthing. It's unclear whether they truly haven’t or are ashamed to admit so, although all of them (thankfully) seemed repulsed by the notion of it.

Avoiding Sex With a Condom

Every guy I spoke to said they do prefer “barebacking” (sex without a condom) but would never even have thought to stealth someone.

One man (we’ll call him "Dave") said that he hated using condoms “because they kill the sensation” and that he would usually wait for his partner to ask him to put a condom on before offering first himself. He also said that if he was about to have sex with a woman and he supposedly didn’t have a condom on him, three options would arise:

  1. The girl would continue anyway in a desperate act of passion.
  2. She would end it there and tell him they couldn’t do it without one. In which case, he would miraculously pull one out of the crevice of his wallet. (“Oh my god, I can’t believe I didn’t see that in there!”)
  3. She pulls one out herself, so he really has no choice.

In fairness to him, he said he always did wear the condom when it came down to it, however begrudging he was.

Lying About Birth Control

Another man made a thought-provoking point. While fully condemning stealthing, he asked:

“Isn’t it rape [of a man] if a girl lies about being on the birth control pill?”

I’m just going to leave that statement there and let you think of it as you will.

For any man out there that does think stealthing is a “feminazi craze made up to make men look even worse,” I would advise them to look at the tweets of former actress Robbin Young. Though she publicly showed her disdain of stealthing, she also also expressed the fact that men can be victims of it too, writing that: “women use pins to poke holes in condom packages so they break during intercourse = unplanned pregnancy.”

When I got in contact with her, she discussed the controversial nature of the issue:

“It is a bit edgy, but if we don’t discuss these types of topics, people (both men and women) may contract STD/STIs . . . and men may end up paying for children they hadn’t planned on having.”

Though there are no clear legal precedent cases on stealthing in the U.S., some states like California are already banning the practice.

Though there are no clear legal precedent cases on stealthing in the U.S., some states like California are already banning the practice.

Regardless of Personal Opinion, Stealthing Can Be Considered Sexual Assault or Rape

I personally find stealthing to be a selfish, demeaning, demoralizing, and disgusting act and never could have imagined such a thing to be an issue in the modern world.

It’s also cowardly, given the fact the other party agreed to wear a condom in the first place, knowing that they would diminish this agreement in the middle of intercourse.

No matter what your opinion, it can be legally considered rape and/or sexual assault.

Moreover, I can already imagine young girls and women now, becoming pregnant and getting told it’s their own fault, and they should’ve been more careful, shouldn’t have been such a "slut" etc.

I’m from Northern Ireland, and abortion still isn’t legal here. Add that with the new UK rape clause being proposed, I doubt the Tory government would give this a second thought.

Additional Resources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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