Let’s Get Real About Stealthing

As university students, we’re almost constantly exposed to the clear-cut definition of what consent is: all parties engaging in any sexual activity must enthusiastically, mutually and consistently agree to it. At some point in our university careers, though, we may inevitably find ourselves hearing whispered stories that leave us questioning our understanding of consent in real life situations. You could likely create a shortlist of these “what if” scenarios fairly quickly, but one that’s rarely acknowledged is the act of “stealthing.”

Stealthing is the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex. In other words, stealthing is when one partner makes the decision to remove the condom without letting their partner know, altering the conditions that were originally consented to.

For example, let’s say Brooklyn agrees to have sex with Mod, only if a condom is used… but Mod takes the condom off without letting Brooklyn know. Now the terms of the encounter have been changed and consent is no longer present.

The fine line lies within the fact that taking the condom off wouldn't be a deal breaker for some people, while others would feel violated by the transgression.

Stealthing is a term I stumbled upon recently which I decided more people should be aware of. I feel like it’s a topic that goes unnoticed or unacknowledged, but I think stealthing challenges the idea of consensual sex, and should be included in all conversations about consent. From a one-night stand to fully committed relationships, it should be understood that everyone needs to respect one another’s terms to make sex enjoyable and safe from start to finish.

If you ever feel uncomfortable or unsure after an encounter like this, anything and everything you feel towards your partner’s actions are valid. The important thing is you’re in check with how you feel about the situation and you take the right steps to put your own health first. Do what feels right for yourself, whether it’s still staying with the partner that stealthed you and swears they won’t do it again, or calling it quits after the first experience. Whatever the case, no one can talk you out of how you feel and no one can belittle your feelings.

What helps in situations like these is opening up about your experience to someone you trust, since it may be difficult to know how to cope with stealthing or other forms of sexual assault. Below are a few sexual and mental health resources you can access over the phone, online or on campus that might help with grey areas regarding consent or sex in general:

  • Good2Talk: Over the phone hotline that is 100% anonymous and answered by trained councilors who are there to hear your story or anything that’s on your mind
  • Planned Parenthood: A very reliable source that ensures you get the right information about safe sex, including emergency contraceptives (Planned Parenthood clinics also offer cheaper prices for the same contraceptives if finances are a concern for you)

  • Hotline.rainn.org: A national and free sexual assault hotline that offers free online chats/phone calls with trained professionals

  • Queen’s Counseling: Make an appointment with confidential and professional counselors who are accessible on campus (at LaSalle on University and Stuart street) to talk about anything you may be struggling with