By Alex Parker
September 9, 2021
In California, they’re eyeing a new law overseeing intimacy.
The ball is rolling to battle prophylactic impropriety.
On Tuesday, lawmakers sent a bill to possibly-soon-to-be-recalled Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Newly added to the legislation: a definitional expansion of sexual battery.
Now included: the practice of “stealthing.”
For the uninitiated, such is the male mid-sex removal of a condom without the permission of his partner.
According to a 2017 paper published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law — which specified a particular segment of men — stealthing is frequent:
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. Both men and women describe having sex with male partners with penises who, during sex, removed the condom without their knowledge.
“Some realized their partner had removed the condom at the moment of re-penetration,” it said. “Others did not realize until the partner ejaculated or, in one case, notified them the next morning.”
During the study, two common themes emerged:
- Survivors fear unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
- Apart from these specific outcomes, survivors experienced nonconsensual condom removal as a clear violation of their bodily autonomy and the trust they had mistakenly placed in their sexual partner.
The report was authored by Alexandra Brodsky, who told the Huffington Post she discovered a pro-stealthing online community.
Brodsky highlights the online communities who defend stealthing as a male “right,” particularly a right of every man to “spread his seed” ― regardless of if said man is engaging in straight or gay penetrative sex. The study quotes from comment threads and forums in which men “train” other men about stealthing best practices, and offer support and advice in their pursuit of nonconsensual condom removal during sex.
If Gov. Gavin signs the bill, it won’t change criminal code.
It will, however, allow victims to sue perpetrators by way of an amendment to civil law.
From the New York Post:
Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia has been pushing for the legislation since 2017, when a Yale University study said acts of stealthing were increasing against both women and gay men. Her original bill attempted to make it a crime.
Per analysts, the act could already be considered misdemeanor sexual battery. But AB-453 would remove any uncertainty.
The bill passed in the legislature with zero opposition — so not only did all voting Republicans support it, but all Democrats as well.
Via a statement, Assemblywoman Cristina also referred to internet advocacy:
“It’s disgusting that there are online communities that defend and encourage stealthing and give advice on how to get away with removing the condom without the consent of their partner, but there is nothing in law that makes it clear that this is a crime.”
Of course, the act is absolutely immoral. Should it be addressed by law?
The bill brings two thoughts to mind.
Firstly, it’s an undeniable sign of the times that such legislation could be heralded as necessary.
How could society have reached a point where the most intimate thing people can share is being indulged by those who cannot trust one another — at rates so high, it’s considered a crisis?
In my opinion, that’s a stunning symptom of a world in terrible need — of connection.
Personally, I believe the remedy can’t and won’t be found in liaisons with unworthy others.
Beyond that, as for Democrat support, it seems a group known for its mantra of keeping laws out of the bedroom has reassessed.
A reminder of previous left-wing lawmaking:
New California law reduces penalty for knowingly exposing someone to HIV https://t.co/Ue7787u7Cz via @NBCOUT pic.twitter.com/lVIrlF3Ypy
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 14, 2017
What do you think of AB-453?
Here are its exact words:
The bill would also specify that a person commits a sexual battery who causes contact between an intimate part of the person and a sexual organ of another from which the person removed a condom without verbal consent.
I can easily imagine a large fly in the ointment: How might it be proven that the condom didn’t just slip off?
And what if it did?
If the bill is signed by Gavin Newsom, California will become the first state to make stealthing illegal.