No means no at any time, even if consent was given at first!
This video on twitter last week caught my eye. The video focused on “stealthing” and because I didn’t know what it was, I was curious to find out. My curiosity soon turned to disgust.
According to a report recently published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law ‘Stealthing’ is the nonconsensual act of a man removing a condom during a previously consensual sexual encounter. The attacker removes the condom without consent. We should consider stealthing as rape. Why isn’t it? People often question the validity of the attack because of the initial consent given. Victims of stealthing do not agree to sex without a condom. No means no at all times, even if consent was given at first. Criticisms of victims include that women shouldn’t engage in sexual activity with men they don’t know well enough in the first place. This is victim blaming and one must not tolerate it.
Apart from the emotional trauma and post -traumatic stress that many victims face, nonconsensual removal of condoms holds serious health concerns as well. Victims face risks of unwanted pregnancy and STIs, the latter of which are at an all-time high for millennials in New York.
Stealthing is not a trend, it’s sexual assault. This act of sexual assault is a rising epidemic in big cities like New York, where sex is easily available via dating apps.“I found in my accounts that men try to justify this by saying it’s their right to spread their seed and that it’s a natural impulse for them,” says Alexandra Brodsky, the study’s author and a Yale Law School graduate. According to USA Today, there are online forums where attackers discuss stealthing and brag about sexual assaults they have committed. This isn’t the first time stealthing has been in mainstream media either. Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, faced rape allegations involving stealthing, which he denied.
Assange’s case isn’t the only one involving stealthing. Many report rapes involving similar circumstances and actions, but none have known exactly what to call the attack, or even if it constitutes as rape. Emotional and legal services aren’t as readily available to victims of stealthing, as they are for other rape victims.
Why is stealthing not taken more seriously? What can we do to prevent it?
Defining consent is one way to establish universal guidelines for what is rape and what isn’t. Governments reforming current laws to include stealthing in rape and sexual assault is necessary. The glamorization of stealthing in online forums must stop. We should not praise or joke about rape and sexual assault. These are serious actions and the attackers must face serious consequences.
About the Author
Kathryn Pitts is a Political Science major at Georgia State University and is pursuing a career in the non-profit sector. She is aiming to work with refugees, specifically women and children, and women’s rights on a global scale. She is passionate about volunteer work and strives to help others every day. Kathryn also enjoys playing with her dog and hiking on weekends off.
Image Credit: AIDS Healthcare