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stealthing

If you are unfamiliar with the term 'reproductive coercion', it's essentially when another person has more control over your reproductive health than yourself.

Hilary Freeman of The Guardian is now reporting that more women than imagined have no idea that reproductive coercion is a form of abuse.

Studies have revealed that a shocking one-in-four women who attend sexual health clinics report coercion over their reproductive lives, including 'contraceptive sabotage', such as covert condom removal.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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According to BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, available evidence about the abusive behaviour needs to be updated to 2017 and widen the spectrum of activities involved to include familial pressure, criminal activity and exploitation within sex trafficking.

As well as not being able to choose contraceptives to use or take control of their own reproductive health, reproductive control takes the form of contraceptive sabotage, such as convert condom removal or needling a hole in a condom. 

Not being able to decide whether to start or continue a pregnancy is a major factor, research shows, and the concept of reproductive control (especially over women's autonomy) by others was first described in 2010.

Women's experience of interference with their autonomy goes back centuries, arguably, but research indicates that younger women are particularly vulnerable, as well as those in the black community and racial minorities.

The practice is scarily common, with women having decisions taken away from them by partners, exploiters or family, invalidating consent.

One-in-four women attending sexual healthcare clinics are reporting persuasive methods, emotional blackmail, threatened or actual infidelity and physical violence predominantly perpetrated by male partners but also criminal gangs.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Other examples of contraceptive sabotage include; partners lying about having a vasectomy or sterilisation, refusing to wear condoms, forceful removal of condoms, not using the withdrawal method properly, piercing barrier contraceptives or throwing away contraceptive pills.

Condom removal during sex is referred to as 'stealthing', and is now classified as sexual assault. Spiking drinks or food to induce abortion also was mentioned as occurrences.

The consequences are often emotionally difficult to bear; unintended or unwanted pregnancy, higher abortion risk, higher STI rates and emergency contraceptive usage.

Women in violent, abusive relationships prove especially vulnerable to reproductive coercion, but many are unaware that they are being subjected to reproductive control.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Marie Stopes Australia (@mariestopesaus) on

"The degree of control that a male partner can have will vary from mild to extreme. Milder amounts of control may not be perceived by the victim as unhealthy or abusive."

"Women in a long term relationship may become inured to significant levels of reproductive control," the study's authors write.

The study calls on healthcare professionals must play a crucial part in noticing and preventing this horrifically controlling behaviour.

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A new study in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law has exposed the vile act of stealthing.

Stealthing is the casual phrase for the removal of a condom by one partner without the consent of the other participant, and it is 'a common practice among young, sexually active people.'

The act occurs when a woman (or man) consents to sex with a male partner with the use of a condom, but the partner removes the condom during the act, or removes it right before the act happens. 

The act itself is nothing new, but it is finally getting the attention it warrants through this study.

People can argue that it is not a form of sexual assault as the woman consented to the sex beforehand, but the removal of the condom breaches the boundaries of the consent entirely.

There are entire online communities set up by men online, glorifying the act as a 'man's right' to exude control over their sexual partner by 'spreading their seed.' *Shudders*

'I just go raw dog from the beginning,' reads one Reddit thread discussing the issue. 'Unless she looks rough, then I throw one on for my own protection.'

'Survivors fear unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections,' says the study, conducted by Alexandra Brodsky.

Aside from the possibility of contracting an STD or being forced to deal with a potential pregnancy, the fact that the act violates consent makes it, in the study's description, 'rape-adjacent.' 

'Survivors experienced nonconsensual condom removal as a clear violation of their bodily autonomy and the trust they had mistakenly placed in their sexual partner,' according to Brodsky.

'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,' she wrote.

'There's a difference between consenting to someone touching you with a condom, and consenting to someone penetrating you without one.'

'In the same way a woman can consent to being fingered without consenting to penetrative sex, a woman can consent to protected sex without consenting to unprotected sex.'

'I agreed to f*** him with a condom. Not without one,' reads one testimony. 

As evidenced by the online communities who actively encourage one another to engage in the act and subsequently brag about it afterwards, the act has deep roots in misogyny. 

The perverse pleasure of the enforcer comes before the wants of the partner, and a 'mans right' or 'natural instinct' to reproduce is cited as one vile excuse for the action. 

One sick individual has even published a comprehensive guide on the act called I Remove The Condom Without Them Knowing.

One 'handy tip' the author enlists in his nonconsensual mission to engage in 'stealth sex' is to 'make sure you have at least one more good shot of cum that she sees or feels outside of her body so she has no reason to suspect you've emptied your balls inside her.' 

Beware, the entire journal is a sickening read. 

This abhorrent and completely disgusting behaviour is thankfully on its way to being legally recognised. 

In January, a Swiss court convicted a man of rape after he took off his condom without telling his partner.

The court decided that the woman would have said no to sex if she knew the condom would be removed, so consent was breached. 

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