Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Skin to skin: Stealthing is rape


Stealthing: The act of taking off a condom during coitus without the consent of the woman after agreeing to wear a condom.

The debate is: Should this be termed as an act of rape, or is this not really that big a deal?

Let’s just kick this right off and say: this is a vile despicable act. It seems to be something that is increasingly on the rise and has been happening to people in my circles. I have heard stories of men removing their condoms in the middle of sex and then having the audacity to get upset when the woman refuses to continue.

But many do not take this act seriously, arguing: “We were having sex anyway. What is a little skin on skin action into the mix?”

If a condom was agreed on then a condom was agreed on. No backsies. No take backs. No renegotiation of terms. People choose to use condoms for a good reason other than wanting to have warm, tingly raspberry flavoured genitals. To have this choice not respected is assault.

There are many things wrong with stealthing but let us handle the basic ones:

Pregnancy and child care
Men: Have you seen a birthing video? No? Watch one and see if this is something you want to put someone through.

Being pregnant is one of the most traumatic things a woman’s body will ever go through. Growing a human being is a full-time job that can cause a woman’s body to do anything from swell at the feet to experience extreme pains in the limbs.

A women may seek an abortion because she knows she cannot raise this child. But, because of the stigma attached to abortion, a woman ends up seeking an unsafe abortion.

If a woman does decide to have the child there is the danger of death as a result of inadequate maternal healthcare.

Then there is the fact that the number of single mothers on the African continent is rising, with South Africa having statistics such as that one in three households are run by single mothers.

Motherhood is one of the major causes of the gender wage gap. Children are neither cheap nor free and can derail your career and ability to earn money.

Having a child is no easy feat from the time of inception to the time when they move out of your backroom at the grand old age of 35.

Sexually transmitted diseases
We live in sub-Saharan Africa, the region in which STDs are rising most rapidly, according to the World Health Organisation.

Furthermore, more than 23-million people are living with HIV on the continent – and we all know the HIV stats in South Africa are particularly daunting.

Do you really want to play Russian roulette with someone’s junk because you feel like being sneaky?

It is never okay to remove a condom without consent.

Men – and women – need to understand this. It is something that is a big deal. It constitutes sexual assault.

Stealthing is a giant red flag when it comes to deciding whether you should allow this man to see you naked, because this sort of sneaky act is a manifestation of a lack of respect for your body. When the respect is gone it is a slippery slope to being forced into doing more violent things you do not want to do. Technically, it has already begun because you had sex without a condom without your consent.

Stealthing is rape. Men, think about that the next time you want to slip that condom off for that au naturel feeling.

Kagure Mugo is the co-founder and full-time curator of HOLAAfrica!

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Kagure Mugo
Kagure Mugo

Kagure Mugo is the intoxicatingly scary gatekeeper of HOLAAfrica, an online pan-African queer womanist community dealing with sexuality and all things woman. She is also a writer and freelance journalist who tackles sex, politics and other less interesting topics. During weekends she is a wine bar philosopher and polymath for no pay.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Cape Flats gangsters, children die in fight over turf

Extortion rackets are part of a corrupt system that includes religious leaders, councillors, police and syndicates

Tobacco farmers want the taxman to do more to control...

The Black Tobacco Farmers’ Association the introduction of a minimum price level for cigarettes

More top stories

Cape Flats gangsters, children die in fight over turf

Extortion rackets are part of a corrupt system that includes religious leaders, councillors, police and syndicates

Father and son abandon gangs to start a project of...

After spending more than 40 years in a life of gangsterism, Ralph Haricombe’s life changed after his son asked him to change his life

Predators: Beauties or beasts?

How farmers perceive jackal and caracal — as ‘beautiful’ or ‘thieves’ — determines whether they will tolerate them on their livestock farms

Creecy taken to court over oil, gas plan

An environment group says its application is a ‘watershed’ case for stopping deep sea exploration

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…