Stealthily Removing Condoms

Stealthing. A violation.

“Stealthing” happens when men covertly remove their condoms during sex.

Alexandra Brodsky is a Yale Law graduate who heard from dozens of victims after publishing her article on the practice in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.

Feeling Betrayed

People told her things like,

I felt terribly betrayed, but I didn’t know what to call it, so I didn’t know I was right to be angry, right to be hurt.

Others are taking their case to court.

Victims say stealthing violates their trust and autonomy and brings health risks.

Why do it? And should it be legally prosecuted?

Sexual objectification: he matters, she doesn’t

Brodsky checked an online group of “stealthers” to see what they were thinking. Different men had different motives, but each was related to supremacy issues…

…like sexual objectification: She exists to please him. Who cares about her?

Some men removed condoms because they lessened pleasure. And after all, men have a “natural male instinct, a natural male right” to unlimited pleasure, don’t they?

Others enjoyed the sadistic thrill of degradation.

And hey, if it’s more fun for him, who cares about her?

Maybe she gets pregnant. Maybe she gets an abortion. Maybe she gets HIV-AIDS or a less deadly sexually transmitted infection.

Maybe she feels disempowered and demeaned and violated. Maybe it feels violent. Maybe it’s a deep betrayal of trust.

He’s playing with life and death. Health and emotions.

No matter. Only he matters.

Abuse: Get her pregnant and (hopefully) dependent

Others are trying to force a pregnancy in an act of reproductive coercion.

These men hope to make their partners dependent on them by getting them pregnant. Then hopefully his partner will stay with him — regardless of how abusive he is to her.

He matters. She doesn’t.

Hostility, dominance, control

This disrespectful and even violent sexual practice is tantamount to rape, says Ms. Brodsky.

A woman may have consented to sex. But she didn’t consent to greatly increase her risk of getting pregnant, getting an abortion, or getting an STI, including the most deadly one, HIV-AIDS.

Rapists are hostile to their victims and enjoy controlling them, dominating them, humiliating them, and hurting them.

Much as these men do.

He matters. She doesn’t.

A crime?

Should stealthing be a crime?

When it has so much in common with the motive and experience of rape? When it forces unwanted life and death issues?

Yes, it should.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on June 5, 2017, in men, objectification, rape and sexual assault and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 63 Comments.

  1. I’m going to ask a question here hence taking the conversation in a slightly different direction. Mind you, I’ve never heard of such a practice until now and there are a few questions about condoms and wearing them. First and formost, should one condom fit just about any size or is working out what fits like trying to shop for shoes? I’m using shoe shopping as an analogy by the way so no link between the 2. how does one know what condom is going to fit but then again everybody’s different and if one wears a condom should they tie a knot in it so it’s not likely to come off or is it going to stay under its own strength? I myself would be thinking there is probably going to be some inicial discomfort due to wearing something forign. never experiencing such things and never talking about it I’m forever curious about things like this so if I’ve gone completely off track it’s because I’m curious about these things even though I read the post and curiosity was never part of the plan in the first place and I know I’d never have sex with somebody unless I’m emotionally prepared or I have a plan that I know I’m going to stick to for the long hall.

  2. I agree with you stealthing is not just breach of trust, it’s a rape.

  3. Despicable. There is something very wrong with any man who even thinks that way.

  4. A bunch of fucking wankers is the nicest thing I could come up with to say about these guys. Inverted assholes is what they are.

  5. I never heard of this. Disgraceful. When I just saw the headline I thought it was about fumbling with the wrapper trying to get it off (which I’ve done).

  6. Yes, stealthing is definitely a crime. In any intimate relationship, both partners should respect each other’s boundaries. Not only is this sexual assault but also is gender-based violence. This can leave both physical and emotional harm to the victim. If an intimate partner is not comfortable with something, then the other person should respect that. There must be legal protections placed in order to stop these terrible acts. Stealthing is definitely a form of sexual assault and is not in any way consensual.

  7. That’s messed up. But you do know women can do manipulative things or shady things too. Where women do things to try to “trap” a man to marrying her or staying with her thus getting pregnant. It can be the opposite where a woman wants a kid and the man doesn’t or long term and the man doesn’t but forces the situation with pregnancy. I’ve heard where a woman, pricked little holes with a needle through her bfs condoms without him knowing. That’s pretty messed up and I wouldn’t be so gullible to think stuff or a woman lying and saying she’s on birth control when she isn’t so she can get pregnant. I know you’re going to focus on what’s done to women considering your blog, but it can go the other way too. What these guy’s are doing is messed up and obviously wrong, but there are women who can do messed up things too.

    • Yep. You’re right.

      But one topic one post. And this is a blog about patriarchy. Plus someone specifically asked me to write on this one.

      • true. Just making sure you aren’t seeing one worse than the other because one is what some men do to women vs what other women might do to men. From reading your posts though and why I’ve posted through the years is that you seem fair as far as what affects and hurts both women and men and it doesn’t matter who the perpetrator is. I’ve learned, but I think many who see feminists as bad, think feminists only see female as victims or it worse if perpetrator is a man against a woman compared to woman and the male is the victim.

        But from you and other feminists, it’s actually feminists who condemn female perpetrators on a male victim as much as a male to female victim. For example, even though it’s rare, others may laugh or not take a man being raped as serious compared to female being raped or sexual harassment and such. But I think since feminists believe men and women should be on equal footing that, a male being a victim isn’t any less serious or shouldn’t be dismissed either even if it’s from a woman.

      • What do you think is the motive behind why men do it and why women do it?

  8. Stealthily removing condoms should be condemned and should be prosecuted as sexual abuse. I read several similar cases on other website forums. Most of females describe their feelings about this are indignant, heartbreaking and exactly like the article says—feeling betrayed. The most common excuse I have read before, men stealthing is because they feel more physical pleasure without wearing condoms. Women whether they feel angry or sad are both for one reason: sexuality is the first demand for men. They don’t care if it’s risky for their partner to be pregnant, they don’t care if it’s risky for their partners getting STD or abortion. They don’t respect their partners’ will. For those men, they treat their own physical pleasure over women’s physical/psychological danger. And yes it is truly the same as rape that requires legislation.

    • Yes, I would like to take a closer look at how the motivations of women and men who do this sort of thing are similar or different, Along with the consequences on each side.

      Luckily most men and women don’t do this sort of thing!

  9. I had never heard of the term stealthing before up until I read this blog. Sure this is a practice we have all heard of, maybe have thought about, or maybe have done as a male. I had no idea that this was such a horrible thing until reading about it here on this blog and having it open a new perspective. I was oblivious to the fact that and wasn’t aware that this is a form or dominance or rape. I absolutely do think that this is a crime and that more awareness be brought regarding this heinous act.

  10. This is something absolutely disgusting to hear but I’m not surprised some men do this. I know of a family member who has had this done to her in an attempt to get her pregnant. This isn’t just a breach of trust it is flat out rape and should be taken seriously in court. A condom is supposed to give a sense of security between both partners that no STDs can be transmitted and pregnancies won’t happen. I feel like this is the equivalent of poking holes in condoms which have been done by both partners but this is more of a male dominant form of doing this. Men that do this have no respect for their partners and should be tried for rape in court in my opinion.

    • Fortunately, relatively speaking few men or women do this sort of thing to one another. So that is the good news! And it’s very important that this sort of thing be condemned.

  11. This is the first time I am hearing of such practice. It caught my attention because I wanted to know what made these men practice this “tactic.” These so called men do this so that the women can feel powerless and so that can get more pleasure from stealthily. I read in the comments that they believe that it is a form of rape and I could not agree more. If a women does not consent you doing stealthing then the man is basically raping her. If she gets pregnant from this then it is more of a bigger issue because she did not ask for it, As a women, being aware of this is so important because some men may practice this and I do not want to one for a guy to practice this on me. It is actually really upsetting that men have to stoop down to do this instead of communicating with the women and making sure it is okay with her so that they both can be on the same page. I hope most men do believe this is not okay and can harm the women not just mentally but physically as well by getting pregnant or catching any form of diseases. It was shocking reading this post but it was very informative because I did not know anything about this topic I did not even know this even existed.

  12. Katsuto Matsumoto

    I can not say it is a crime because there is not exact low to judge, but I believe it is a worst thing that men do. This is betraying against relationship. Especially, pregnancy will take risks women’s bodies a lot. On the other hand, men don’t have any risks in their bodies. And most men who do such a bad thing don’t try to take responsibility. Also I can’t understand them. For a moment pleasure, they make their partner dangerous situation. No one should make some dangerous situation to other people.

    • Yeah, weighing the pluses and negatives a moment of pleasure is certainly not worth the cost in terms of possible pregnancy, abortion, feeling hurt and disempowered…

  13. I have never heard of “stealthing” before during sex. I think that this definitely should be considered a crime. Even though a man and a woman are having consentual sex and the woman is aware that they are using a condom and when they are done she finds out that he removed the condom. That doesn’t mean that she gave him consent to remove the condom. Things like this make it hard for them to bring to court because no one will know what to do with a case like this. Women who get raped are afraid to bring their case to court, what makes you think that women who suffer from “stealthing” will be willing to bring the case to court. I do believe that stealthing should be a crime.

  14. Stealthing is another branch of rape. Rape is a crime. Therefore, stealhing is a crime. Consenting to protected sex does not equal consenting to unprotected sex. The risk of the latter are more severe than the former. It does not matter who the person is— husband, boyfriend, or a fling; if consent for unprotected sex is not given, it should not be performed. It’s astonishing how people are even making arguments of stealthing not being a crime; rapist and rapist defenders seem to always find loopholes. The motive behind stealthing is irrelevant when the fact is that the act had been committed. One person purposefully decided to break a consensual circumstance and create a harmful environment for their partner; and that is final. However, most people consider the circumstance and forgiveness is then determined by the victim. I think the act is what matters the most, the act of breaking trust signifies the androcentrism present in society. Rape is a big issue that is constantly being ignored in our male centered society; however that does not diminish the fact that is it a crime. The fact that so many people are accepting and think that is okay to do so is what is wrong; there needs to be consequences, serious consequences, to these actions.

  15. Yes, it definitely should be a crime. It’s deceitful and a violation of consent.

  16. “What do you think is the motive behind why men do it and why women do it?”

    I’ve never heard of stealthing, until you wrote this. It seems like something that a man who is abusive who wants a woman to stay with him to do. Like have her stuck when she has a kid like you said. Something a controlling, abusive man would do. From what I know with many single guys, the last thing they want if hooking up or anything that is not serious, is they don’t want a kid or anything that could cause that. So even if it’s for ego and dominance, it doesn’t make sense for a guy to do that isn’t abusive and wants the girl to stay with him, because that greatly increases the chances of her being pregnant. Many guys are scared or not fond of getting a girl knocked up and even he’s a scumbag who flees when woman is pregnant, he’s going to pay for child support. Plus you said STDs for the woman, but a man can get an STD if he takes condoms off. It’s easier for a woman to get an STd because of anatomy, but a man is risking himself too doing that, especially if it’s the girl that has the STD and not him.

  17. “What do you think is the motive behind why men do it and why women do it?”

    For women, It’s most likely not for abusive purposes, but desperation and maybe crazy as well as a stage 5 clinger. A couple of reasons I think women might do it. They are crazy and emotionally unstable. The man they are with likes them or loves them, but starts getting nervous about how clingy she has gotten or attached to an obsessive level. She feels he might be wanting to break up with her. She does something to trick him or lie and gets pregnant with the intent that he might stay now. I could see this if it’s like a male celebrity a woman hooks up with or rich or already had a child when hookin up with guy and does this to set up child support for kids.

    And I think one where a woman is getting older and her biological clock is ticking down and she really, really wants kids. She has been in relationships that haven’t worked. She’s getting older. She’s been in a reltionship for a few years and loves the man and he loves her. But he doesn’t want kids, she thinks about maybe leaving, but feels he’s the best guy in every other way. Maybe she feels she can force the situation, and not take birth control but tells he she is or pricks a hole in his condom or uses sperm elsewhere to get herself pregnant. I don’t know of anyone personally doing that, but they seem like motives for a woman to do something manipulative. As you see there is a difference with men where it’s so they can control and abuse a woman. Or ego and control purposes. For a woman it could be for self benefit or related to keeping a guy around due to clingyness and desperation and emotional attachment.

    • Thank you for your thoughts on this. Maybe I will do another post on this topic: what’s the motive?

      And I notice that some men who write in think that because some men do it it paints all men as horrible when that’s not the case. Like men as a sex are worse than women. First, the great majority of men do not behave this way. And even when you look up the motivations the root problem is culture. But you can’t change the culture unless you recognize the manifestations as they arise in reality.

      Everyone is a mix of their biology + Culture + social interactions so you get broad social patterns and a great deal of individual differences.

      • I do think men who do this are scumbags and it is a crime. But I’m wondering, do you think similar of women who do manipulative things like I said too and that as a crime as well?

      • Maybe. I’m thinking through the motivations and the harm that caused on both sides. What motive do you think a woman would have? How do you think a man would experience finding out that a woman did that to him?

  18. FHill_Spr'17JR

    This is horrible because men will actually take off their condoms during sex which has the chance of getting the woman pregnant. What makes things worst is that the pro-life movement actually wants to make abortions illegal. I saw the movement march down San Fransico and they were shaming people who wanted to get an abortion. However, I don’t think that these people who shame women do not realize that the man took off his condom secretly. When a woman becomes pregnant by a man, she is put in a situation where she has to rely on the man. It is very taxing on one person to raise a child and may not have the financial resources to do it on their own. They may also have to devote more time to raise the child and limit their chances to explore other opportunities in life. So when abortions were still illegal, this was another way that men exerted their control on the women. Fortunately thanks to the famous Roe Vs Wade case, abortions are legal and women can get them. Roe Vs Wades lessen the control that a man can have when they impregnate a woman and not put the woman in a situation where she is dominated by a man.

  19. I was so horrified to hear about this. It feels like SUCH a violation, and yes, a crime. It changes the nature of the sexual encounter and invalidates consent.
    Of course, secretly changing the terms of protection mid-sexual act would be a problem in homosexual and heterosexual relations alike. But when serious disease and the possible life-long commitment of a child are at stake, women obviously have much more to lose, and a condom is in the wearer’s control.
    Thanks for the thoughtful article. I see it’s generated quite a lot of discussion here already, and like many here, I hadn’t heard of it before coming across it in the news. Obviously laws need updating to deal with this kind of thing. It’s such a deliberate and selfish act it hurts me to even contemplate it. I never relied solely on condoms but always used them anyway, because the pill only prevents pregnancy. I would not choose to go without a condom without a long-term relationship and a clean test on both sides.

    Do you think this is a new phenomenon or are we just hearing about it now?

    • I don’t really know whether it’s a new thing or we are just hearing about it now. I suspect the latter since we still wouldn’t have heard of it if someone hadn’t researched and written a paper about it.

  20. Isn’t this a simple case of non-consensual sex and of course therefore rape?
    I don’t think it’s a new thing, but it’s very disturbing that it has been given a name.

  21. Donovan Perez

    The question of should stealthing should be a crime I would consider it as equal of a crime as rape. My reason being is because both do not ask for consent. Back when I was in high school guys would always talk about having raw sex and some would say they would take off the condom because it was uncomfortable, but I never saw the consequences and saw the women side of the situation until now. Even reading this passage that some guys take off the condom to make their partner stay with them because of pregnancy is just awful. They are on different levels of crime, but I still value the action on the same level because consent should always be a factor.

  22. Stealthing should definitely be considered a crime. If someone’s partner whether it be male or female is purposely removing their condom without their partners consent it in my opinion is a huge deal. It’s crazy because you actually hear of this happening quite frequently. Males can do it to trap women so that they are forced to stay with them. Another scary thought is individuals doing that and spreading STDs. I’m pretty sure purposely giving someone or going around spreading a disease is illegal so this should be considered in the same manner. Another thing is the fact that there isn’t consent which is completely not ok. These are some of the reasons I think stealthing should be considered a crime.

  23. Stealthily removing condoms is a crime as sexual abuse. That situation is for pleasure to men, but to women, that could be big problem. Both partner have to respect because sex is communication with partner. Even if requirement that sex without condom could be big stress to women. When we have sex, I think women have more responsibility more than men, so men have to respect them.

  24. I have heard of these type of encounters that women have had before but there wasn’t a specific name for it. I think as women we put so much pressure on ourselves when we become sexually active that we don’t fully understand when a man’s behavior could be wrong. In these type of situations some women try to justify a man’s actions by sacrificing their own self worth because there is a lack of being sure or scared on the sexual abuse that took place. That is why so many women don’t talk about situations like these or other cases because they seem to think the permission they have given for sex is all or nothing type of thing. I don’t think we fully understand the term rape as a society, because so often women are not sure if what had happened to them is justified as rape. There always seems to be a grey area and for that reason there should be a responsibility as a society and humanity to help educated woman and men on feelings,respect, and sexual abuse.

  25. In my entire life, I have only been with one guy (my now husband). I have never been in a situation described like this. But I do strongly believe it is completely wrong for a guy to do this. A man who stealthily removes a condom with no knowledge from his partner, is betrayal. Whether he does it because he feels more pleasure, or because he wants to feel like a macho man, or for whatever reason, it should be a crime. Men in society still feel the need to control women. There’s a need for women to become dependant of men. There can be huge consequences for those actions, but at that very moment, a guy who performs this act, doesn’t care. And in my opinion, he is not only being ignorant, but selfish as well. My heart goes out to all women who have in one way or another been a victim. Women get blamed and called names when thing happen. They get called whores or hoes. But for a man, they get praised for their actions. Its unjust and as much as we try to change that in this world, it gets pretty difficult.

  26. Is stealthing incredibly bad form? Sure. Should it be a crime? Of course not! For one thing, we’ve already got an epidemic of false rape allegations without burdening the legal system with yet another he-said, she-said set of allegations that leads to nowhere. How to prove what happened in the bedroom? For another thing, it’s quite easy for a condom to accidentally slip off, and/or for them to break either accidentally or on purpose. Will the world actually gain anything if men swap from slipping off the condom to purposely breaking the condom? Let’s calm down and recognise that the solution to all human problems is NOT more laws. Take some responsibility for your own actions! If you don’t trust who you are having sex with, if you’re not sure if they have STDs, then don’t have sex! You have agency, sort out your own problems.

  27. Why is this a question? Are they serious? If a man takes off his condom during sex, sex should be over. Because I didn’t agree to possible aids from your nasty self. Men have always loved being the primary dominant gender and it’s funny because they’re usually the ones begging for sex, always asking for sex, always “please please please” for sex. The problem is men don’t know that no means no but they rape anyway and only take it serious when they have serious offenses against them. But in today’s society, you can rape and walk away free. Leaving women in a state of defense, anxiety, and constant state of fear. But we can’t have fear. Because men will use that against us too.

  28. The men doing this have to be idiots, especially if you don’t fully know the other person. I also partially agree with Fred747 on how if you don’t trust the person you are having sex with why do it at all. People have to be responsible for their own actions at times, but I do agree that in certain situations it should still be a crime.

  29. I definitely think that stealthing should be considered a crime, it is one thing to consent to sex with a condom but to secretly take it off sometime during sex without the woman’s knowledge is wrong and should be punishable by law. By removing the condom for their own selfish needs they are putting the woman at a great risk of pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease and infections, emotional trauma, and a need for abortion or morning after pill. These are things she will have to experience and go through, so asking if she wants the man to remove the condom should be up to her and whether she wants to or not because she is the one that will have to live with the consequences that are far more important that the man’s temporary needs or wants.

  30. MatthewFoothill

    When I first read an article about stealthing, I was honestly horrified and speechless, that anyone would do such a thing. And I think I’d have to agree with the notion that stealthing is not just a breach of trust and that it is indeed rape. I feel anything done without consent in a sexual encounter can and should be considered as rape. The only thing I feel I can say is that there are better men out then the sorry excuses for human beings that do this. I think you also bring an interesting point too that it “forces unwanted life and death issues”, as its not just an unwanted life event to happen to a person but also forcing them to choose a life and death situation of another potential being.This is a future that no one should have to choose, and to force that on someone is just horrendous. I feel the only way we can prevent this, is by informing people on it. There are sadly just not that many preventative measures that we can take besides being informed, and shaming, and prosecuting people who do such acts.

    • Yeah, there are some things that are difficult to merely use the law to enforce. Education is probably much more effective. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

  31. I feel like it should be a crime to remove a condom when you’ve both agreed one needs to be used. Removing it after you’ve made the women think you’re using it is disgusting and should be punished in some way. There are chances that the woman can get an STD, or she could get pregnant, both things that could have been prevent had the man used a condom like it was agreed upon. I can see how the woman can feel used and as if she doesn’t matter, that she only exists to please him and what she wants does not matter. And if the man is doing it to make sure the woman stays with him, that is absolutely repulsive. That should be her decision without being forced to have a child. There need to be laws for things like this, for when a someone put the other in danger purposefully and by lying to them.

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