There’s a disturbing new trend with dangerous consequences. Men are taking off their condoms during consensual sex, then bragging about it online.
It’s called ‘stealthing.’ According to Alexandra Brodsky, who conducted a study on the practice, the act could violate several civil and criminal laws.
Brodsky details stealthing in a report she did for Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. In it, she profiles a doctoral student named Rebecca. While she's not studying, Rebecca works for a local rape crisis hotline. She hears about stealthing a lot from students and says often times, callers start with, ‘I’m not sure this is rape, but…’
Rebecca says she was a victim of stealthing when she was a freshman. According to Brodsky, the law is largely silent on it.
It took almost no time for us to find students like Aubree Segismondi on the USF campus, who’ve at least heard of stealthing.
“I've seen it in social media,” said Segismondi .
“It's not ethical and it's not right,” added student Luana Dias.
All seemed to agree it’s an unsettling and possibly dangerous sex trend.
“Yeah, I mean you're susceptible to STDs, pregnancy, stuff like that. Emotional trauma,” said Jessi Rowe, in her third year at USF.
A new study in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law defines stealthing as a man secretly removing his condom in the middle of sex.
The author of the study makes the argument that doing so should be treated as a form of sexual assault.
Kathleen Kempke, with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, says she's aware of the study – and the trend.
“I have had other cases that I've been very similar to this,” said Kempke.
As far as the crisis center is concerned, a person who feels violated is a victim.
“And they deserve the same kind of services and support that a victim that is raped by a stranger or a raped by an acquaintance would get,” said Kempke.
The study also pointed to online forums. Men, bragging about stealthing. How to get away with it. Even suggesting it's their right to, "spread one's seed".
“I think they should find a mate that's willing to procreate with them at the time,” said USF Junior Joseph Aldrich, “But if they have a condom on, then there's not an idea of procreation. It's more for pleasure.”
As far as using existing statutes to prosecute stealthers in Florida, “As of yet, that statute does not exist,” said Tampa Defense Attorney Hunter Chamberlain.
Chamberlain says stealthing, while despicable, could be difficult to prove as a sexual assault, since the sex itself was initially consensual.
“To change this from a legal behavior to an illegal behavior, the legislature or the courts are going to have to further define what consent means,” said Chamberlain.
The study concludes existing laws don't specifically cover stealthing, despite the heightened risk of pregnancy and even public health risk associated with spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
Most we spoke with, agreed with USF student Aubree Segismondi.
If a law doesn’t already exist, she said, “There should be.”