Earlier this year, the “trend” of stealthing, in which a man removes his condom without his partner’s consent, made its way around the internet. Luckily, two states, Wisconsin and California, have introduced bills labeling stealthing as sexual assault. Because that’s exactly what it is, and calling it a “trend,” like it was just some fun, new sexual position all the kids are trying these days, is dangerous for everyone. Condoms protect people from unwanted pregnancies and STDs, and removing one without consent puts people at risk. Wisconsin Rep. Melissa Sargent said Monday when she introduced her bill, “this is clearly a sexual crime.” She added:
“This behavior is predatory and disturbing, and people should know we not only find it reprehensible, but that we won’t tolerate it. Ignoring it is simply not an option.”
There isn’t any mention of what the punishment would be for a person who removes a condom without permission, though there is bound to be a lot of conversation about it. The culture of rape and victim shaming is so strong that even people who’ve been the victim of stealthing aren’t quite clear about whether it’s rape or not.
The original study published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law by Alexandra Brodsky included a comment from one women she interviewed who wasn’t sure whether it was equal to sexual assault, but called it “rape adjacent.” Passing laws that label the act a form of rape, instead of just a practice that some men actually encourage each other to do is an important first step to changing the culture around consent.
In California, Rep. Cristina Garcia proposed a similar legislation. Earlier this year, she also introduced legislation attempting to expand the legal definition of rape. So thank your female representatives for forcing state legislators to talk about sexual assault and victims’ rights.