Congressman Ro Khanna Wants ‘Stealthing’ Classified as Rape

Two federal lawmakers say secretly removing a condom during sex—commonly called “stealthing”—should be classified as sexual assault. Reps. Ro Khanna (D-San Jose) and Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) co-authored a letter asking the House Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on the practice, which they call “incredibly dangerous.”

“‘Stealthing can lead to lasting consequences, such as unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, and is also a violation of trust between two sexual partners,” the letter read.

The proposal comes two months after California state Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) shelved a bill that would have made tampering with sexually protective devices without permission from the other person a form of rape. Last year, the state expanded the penal code definition of sexual assault beyond the use of threat or physical force to include instances where the victim is unconscious or otherwise incapable of giving consent.

Stealthing made headlines earlier this year after Yale Law School grad Alexandra Brodsky published a study in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law about how people in online message boards encourage the practice. The issue has become part of a broader conversation about expanding the definition of rape to include other nonconsensual acts.

In her report, Brodsky interviewed stealthing victims, who described feeling violated but unsure whether they were assaulted or not. One woman called the experience “rape-adjacent,” for lack of a better term.

Writers who promote nonconsensual condom removal online root the practice in notions of male sexual supremacy, Brodsky found. “Stealthers” describe a range of motivations, including heightened pleasure, thrill from dominance and a belief that the act is “a natural male right,” in both straight and non-heterosexual intercourse.

“Situating nonconsensual condom removal within the broad category of gender violence reveals that the practice is an ethical wrong with practical, psychic, and politically salient repercussions for its victims,” Brodsky wrote in her report. “Feminists have long worked to make these kinds of harms legible in both civil and criminal law—and ensure actual, not merely theoretical, access to court—in order to address victims’ needs and shape sexual norms. Consider, for example, first- and second-wave campaigns to push courts to recognize marital rape, intimate partner abuse, and so-called ‘date rape’ as legally cognizable wrongs, not merely regrettable staples of heterosexuality.”

If stealthing is considered a form of gender violence, Brodsky wrote, then it begs the question of whether it should also be classified as a legal harm.

“None of the victims of nonconsensual condom removal interviewed considered bringing legal action, and no record is available indicating that a United States court has ever been asked to consider condom removal,” Brodsky wrote. “Nonetheless, survivors experience real harms—emotional, financial, and physical—to which the law might provide remedy through compensation or simply an opportunity to be heard and validated.”

The study examined possible criminal, contract, tort and civil rights remedies. Ultimately, the study stated, a new tort for stealthing may be the best way to give victims a viable cause of action.

“While overlooked by the law, nonconsensual condom removal is a harmful and often gender-motivated form of sexual violence,” Brodsky concluded. “Remedy may be found under current law, but a new cause of action may promote the possibility of plaintiffs’ success while reducing negative unintended effects. At its best, such a law would clearly respond to and affirm the harm victims report by making clear that ‘stealthing’ doesn’t just ‘feel violent’—it is.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

26 Comments

  1. I thought Democrats wanted government to stay out of the bedroom, but look now there right in there with ………….Well never mind this is way beyond Bill Clinton stuff.

      • As long as Mike voted with the Democrats & against the Republicans he did plenty to advance the interests of his constituency ! In light of the misogynistic Trump administrations announcement today that employers will no longer be required to include birth control in their health plans (although they’ll still be required to include prescription drugs for erectile dysfunction),it appears that wearing condoms has become a much more pressing issue. Q: What do intercourse & politics have in common ? A: They both involve a lot of push & pull & somebody invariably always gets screwed ! And as usual women once again appear to be on the receiving end.

        • “A: They both involve a lot of push & pull & somebody invariably always gets screwed ! And as usual women once again appear to be on the receiving end.”…
          You forgot about only one of the participants being satisfied, usually not the woman.

        • “… employers will no longer be required to include birth control in their health plans (although they’ll still be required to include prescription drugs for erectile dysfunction)…”

          So much for Progressives commitment to choice. Including in a health plan a benefit unrelated to a medical condition, such as providing birth control, is inarguably a choice, and certainly unconnected to the inclusion in a plan of any bona fide medical condition, including erectile dysfunction. Being fertile is not a disease, though judging by the hysteria surrounding this issue you’d never know it.

          • Just because the inability to achieve an erection has a medical term doesn’t make it an affliction so treating it is a choice. No erection,no need for birth control ! Unwanted pregnancies are both participants responsibility & preventing them is also the responsibility of both people involved. No birth control,no Planned Parenthood & no abortion means that the woman is expected to be the sole responsible party concerning unwanted births. Birth control devices (pills,diaphrams,etc.) are prescribed by physicians to millions of American women & to force them to pay for something there health plans should cover because of their employers purported moral values is unconscionable. Any employer who refuses to pay for their employees birth control method of choice should be required to post a large sign in the window of their business to inform their customers of their decision. It should also be prominent on their website & in all of their advertising. This will inform their customers so that they can decide whether or not to take their business elsewhere for their own moral reasons or take place in a massive boycott of these businesses. Q: Why do these Christian conservative cuckold crusaders have such a hard-on for suppressing birth control,when they apparently need Viagra.Levitra or Cialis to achieve one themselves ? A: Because they’re sexually repressed prudes with dirty minds who can’t stand the fact that most of their neighbors enjoy healthy sex lives & they’re unable to do so themselves.

          • “Just because the inability to achieve an erection has a medical term doesn’t make it an affliction…”
            Yes it does. A body part or organ that fails to function normally requires medical intervention.

            “… the woman is expected to be the sole responsible party concerning unwanted births.”
            Welcome to the real world. Only a woman can protect herself from pregnancy, something your grandmother knew, her grandmother knew, and every other grandmother ad infinitum. How come you don’t know this?

            ” Any employer who refuses to pay for their employees birth control method of choice should be required to post a large sign in the window of their business to inform their customers of their decision.”
            Should the employers also have to display a Star of David if they’re Jews? Pardon me, but your totalitarian slip is showing.

            “… Christian conservative cuckold crusaders…”
            You asked a question about a group to which you neither belong nor share values, and then arrogantly answered it. The word dictator comes to mind, and since dictators only survive through force of arms, you best get your army ready.

          • Finfan – frustrated & self-described “poor bastard” seems like an apt description of you & also speaks to your parents surprising lack of the moral standards that you preach. You should also try to refrain from pleasuring yourself for a least an hour before posting your comments,as this should be ample time for your blood to fully return to your brain.

          • “You should also try to refrain from pleasuring yourself for a least an hour before posting your comments,as this should be ample time for your blood to fully return to your brain.”

            Not exactly creative on your part, but given that my brain holds about a half-gallon of blood, your juvenile implication is appreciated.

  2. Far be it from me to question the right of liberated women to jump into beds and backseats with reckless abandon, but I absolutely object to them making it a threesome by bringing along a government prosecutor to monitor contract compliance.

    — I, the undersigned poor bastard, promise I’m STD free, ready to stop on command, and willing to whisper in your ear whatever words you need to hear. I pledge not to record this encounter, embarrass you on social media, be sexually selfish, engage in stealthing, or criticize your appearance, intelligence, or morals. Furthermore, I declare I was not more attracted to your girlfriend, do not consider you a consolation prize, and have had my eye on you since first glance. Lastly, I swear, with god and the State of California as my witness, that regardless of my marital status, I am not involved in a relationship that could prevent me from falling in love with you and eventually sharing with you my life and financial assets.

    Only George could’ve predicted feminism would turn a woman’s private parts into an Orwellian felony factory.

    • > — I, the undersigned poor bastard, . . .

      I’m suspicious, Finny.

      You sound very experienced.

  3. It would be best to stay out of the privacy of consensual relationship. However, I will defend and support every woman rights to choose any day.

    Khanh Tran

  4. Let’s not make new crimes if we can avoid it. But if we must make new crimes, let us make them at the state level, not the federal. And where would trials for this new crime be carried out? At the state level or the federal one?

  5. What is a consensual relationship? All the woman in the equation has to do is change her mind at any moment, and it no longer is consensual. Lets stop using that term…shall we? There is no such term. Its a CONDITIONAL relationship. Get used to it people…

  6. Mr Khanh,
    We elected you to do wonderful things like balance the budget, fix health care, Keep North Korean missiles from hitting Kalifornia, stop hurricanes. It is beneath the dignity of a congressMAN to be regulating sex.
    Whats next how many strokes we get without a penalty?
    Get Out of my Bed Room!

  7. I think as long as stealthing is going to be classified as rape, I think purposely getting pregnant without the mans consent should be considered rape as well.

  8. > —commonly called “stealthing”—

    Commonly?

    I must be an uncommon person. I’ve never of the term “stealthing” as it pertains to condoms.

    I would have thought it had something to do with B-2 bombers.

  9. Wow, same ole posters same ole crap. Amazing how your posts end into a rant post. “I hate you, you are an idiot, etc”. I appreciate the dozen of you who post on every subject, it is like reading the comics and I get a laugh about something but who really cares about this site other than you. 99% of San Jose do not even know this site exists. Maybe get out from behind your computer and show up and a council meeting, take a number and address the really public.

    Good luck with that. And you wonder why San Jose gets about a 30% turn out for an election.

    • Micromanaging bed acts is not why Silicon Valley sent Ro Khanna to DC. If his sense of priorities and his judgment is that poor, then we can replace him without a qualm.

      It would be different if rape were a federal crime, which, Ro should know, it isn’t.

    • I too like to laugh, and your suggestion that addressing a council meeting, where every vote is already bought and paid for, can be productive effort had me on the floor.

  10. Consensual sex is just that. People need to be responsible for the possible outcomes for the acts they participate in. If you dont check for condom usage before, during or after you are partly to blame. Pregnancy, STDs, getting caught commiting adultery, etc. are all potential outcomes of sex with or without condoms. I dont see stealthing as a huge problem that doesnt already have legal protection – Make a baby and you have to pay child support, knowing you have HIV and not telling your partner Is a felony (but ironically state senator Weiner from SF is working to decriminalize it as stigmatizing for the offender).

    The term rape used to mean forcible insertion of a penis into a vagina. Today rape could mean sex between an adult and a minor, penetration of an orifice with fingers or foreign object, sex between one or more intoxicated people held to be not legally liable for their behavior, sex with a person mentally unable to legally declare for themselves, college sex without informed consent, etc. where does this end? Can you declare rape if the person lied about taking their birth control? For the sake of society we need clear distinctions between forcing a person to have sex against their will and the decision between consenting individuals who may be experiencing regret afterwards.

  11. We definitely need more government regulation of our love lives.
    After Ro’s done with this he needs to introduce legislation that would punish the other “stealthing”-
    married men who misrepresent their marital status by removing their wedding rings thus victimizing pure, innocent, helpless women.
    In fact, infidelity in general must be made a punishable offense. It always involves a situation in which “unfairness” and “victimization” occur. Of course, if the man is the victim big deal right? But at least half the time the victim is a woman so clearly government intervention is necessary.

  12. > Two federal lawmakers say secretly removing a condom during sex—commonly called “stealthing”—should be classified as sexual assault.

    > “‘Stealthing can lead to lasting consequences, such as unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, and is also a violation of trust between two sexual partners,” the letter read.

    But, but, but, . . .

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/10/09/knowingly-infecting-others-with-hiv-is-no-longer-a-felony-in-california-advocates-say-it-targeted-sex-workers/

    “Knowingly exposing others to HIV is no longer a felony in California”

    Now I’m totally confused.

    If I secretly remove my condom and transmit aids to someone is that a (felony) “sexual assault”, or just a misdemeanor?

    Horndogs are asking: how much can I get away with as a misdemeanor?

    What kind of sexual assaults did Harvey Weinstein do? Felony? Misdemeanor?

    Did Brock Turner do anything that Harvey Weinstein didn’t do in his thirty years of sexual assaulting and raping women?

    If Brock Turner were Harvey Weinstein, would Michele Dauber still be demanding his head on a platter?

    Has Michele Dauber ever taken any Harvey Weinstein money, directly or indirectly, for her political activism?

  13. Stealthing can’t be rape based on consent. It can be argued under a claim of battery and in some states assault, depending on the code.

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