Gay Men, Straight Women Hit by ‘Stealthing’

A recently released study about a phenomenon in which men intentionally remove a condom during anal or vaginal sex without permission from their partner — which has become known as “stealthing” — has raised legal questions about whether the practice is a form of sexual assault.

HIV prevention experts affiliated with D.C.’s Whitman-Walker Health and the health clinic at the Los Angeles LGBT Center have also expressed alarm that nonconsensual condom removal poses a risk for the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for gay men.

“Interviews with people who have experienced condom removal and online accounts from victims indicate that nonconsensual condom removal is a common practice among young, sexually active people,” wrote Alexandra Brodsky in a study on stealthing published April 20 in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.

“Both men and women describe having sex with male partners with penises who, during sex, removed the condom without their knowledge,” Brodsky states in a 26-page paper outlining the findings of her study.

“Apart from the fear of specific bad outcomes like pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, all of the survivors experienced the condom removal as a disempowering, demeaning violation of a sexual agreement” and a violation of “the trust they had mistakenly placed in their sexual partner,” Brodsky states in the paper.

The paper states that all of those who experienced stealthing who were interviewed for the paper were women. But the paper says Brodsky obtained information about men whose male partners removed condoms without their consent through online sites catering to men who have sex with men.