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Stealthing – what it is and why people do it

by Beth Divine 11 Jan 2019
Stealthing is the practise of removing or damaging a condom during nookie. The term only arose in 2014, predominantly at first in the gay community but quickly becoming mainstream, but the practise has been around, probably for as long as condoms themselves have been. There are a number of reasons that someone might be tempted into stealthing their partner:

The first reason is as a prank. This is not funny, but some men have stealthed their partners when they were irritated with them for insisting on being safe during sex. A moment’s thought and consideration would have helped them to realise that their partners are only trying to keep themselves safe, and that if they are a little bit anal about the wearing of a condom it could well be for a very good reason… It is neither funny or clever to stealth a partner, so as entertainment value, stealthing should be low on anyone’s agenda.

Some men think that using a condom robs them of sexual pleasure, and yes, it is true that a small amount of sexual sensation is lost when a condom is used. For some men, this can even take the form of being unable to maintain an erection when using a condom – but this is no reason to pretend to put a condom on, or to slide it off at the first opportunity. Being honest with a partner gives them the dignity of allowing them to consent to bareback sex or to refuse to continue with the encounter. 

Some men like to get women pregnant. These men tend to have many children, often with multiple partners, and they tend to be quite arrogant, acting as though they are some sort of stud stallion, when in fact they are usually no real prize as a partner or a dad… For these men, it is a source of pride and an active objective to get as many women pregnant as they can – and they will do anything to achieve this, destroying or ‘losing’ birth control pills, ‘forgetting’ to use a condom, putting holes in a condom or diaphragm, and, of course, stealthing their partner by removing the condom during intercourse.

A final reason for stealthing is one of control. The attitude of ‘don’t tell me what to do’ sees these men taking off condoms so that they can feel powerful and in control of the situation. People like this will usually be quite controlling in other areas of their lives, and it will probably come as no surprise to find that this type of person has stealthed all of their previous sexual partners.

Whatever the reasons for doing it, stealthing is morally wrong, and it is increasingly against the law as societies catch on to the practise and criminalise it – with great justification. Stealthing can greatly increase the spread of sexually transmitted disease and the incidence of unwanted pregnancy. Most countries see stealthing as equal to rape: after all, consent has been given for protected sex, not for the risks of unprotected sex, and removing the condom without discussion makes a laughing stock of that consent.