California has recently outlawed stealthing, making the state the first in the U.S. to do so.
Earlier this month, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a legislation that adds stealthing to California’s civil definition of sexual battery, which means that the act is now illegal and victims can sue their perpetrators.
In an interview with BBC, California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia—the person who introduced the bill—said, “We wanted to make sure that it’s not only immoral, but illegal.” She added, “I still think this should be in the penal code. If consent was broken, isn’t that the definition of rape, or sexual assault?”
Garcia said she began working on the bill after reading then Yale law student Alexandra Brodsky’s term paper on stealthing in 2017. Published in Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, the study was titled ‘Rape-Adjacent’: Imagining Legal Responses to Nonconsensual Condom Removal and it discusses how stealthing is both considered as a form of assault and a gender-based violence. But the paper said stealthing may “more likely be prosecuted, if at all, as a sexual misdemeanor rather than a felony.” You can read Brodsky’s paper in full here and about California’s new law here.
If you don’t know what stealthing is, it is the act of non-consensual condom removal during sexual intercourse. We have written about it extensively here on the A4A blog in the past, you can revisit the article here if you wish to know more about it.
The practice had been put in the spotlight on and off these past few years due to Brodsky’s paper as well as several studies that have been made showing just how prevalent stealthing is.
In 2019, for example, a study among 626 American men aged between 21 and 30 found that 10% among the study participants had removed their condoms without the consent of their partners. More importantly, they revealed that they’ve done it not just once but three to four times on average.
Meanwhile, a separate study in Australia—which was conducted by Monash University and the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre in 2018—showed that one in three women had experienced stealthing. The survey, which had 2,000 survey participants, also found that almost one in five men who have sex with men suffered from stealthing.
As a response to these studies, more and more countries like United Kingdom, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand, and Germany are recognizing stealthing as a crime. And although in some of these countries, stealthing is not explicitly prohibited or covered under their laws, there have been successful stealthing prosecutions in said countries.
Currently, there is a call for stealthing to be criminalized across Australia after the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) outlawed the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex. I have read similar calls for Iowa, New Zealand, and India as well.
Having said all that, have you ever been stealthed by a partner, guys? Please share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments section below.
Stay safe always, guys!