Stealthing in Oahu
In the middle of 2021, one of my friends told me about a guy in our wider volleyball group in Oahu (and it's a big group, so I feel like I'm protecting anonymity group here), had open boasted to him about taking the condom off during sex. He said it's just what guys do with women that insist on condoms. I was mortified when this story got relayed to me. What was more mortifying however, was a couple of months later when I realized that this practice has become so widespread - not just common in Hawaii, but a few other states as well - that it has a common name. "Stealthing".
According to Wikipedia:
"Non-consensual condom removal, or 'stealthing', is the practice of a man removing a condom during sexual intercourse without consent, when his sex partner has only consented to condom-protected sex. Victims are exposed to potential sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV/AIDS, or unwanted pregnancies. Such behavior may be therefore regarded as sexual assault or rape, and sometimes as a form of reproductive coercion. As of 2020, stealthing is punishable as a form of sexual violence in some countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom." -- Wikipedia
Not until October 2021, did the first state in the US, California, ban stealthing. To me it's horrifying to think that it's still legal everywhere else, and that people in the volleyball community might still be doing this.
Poor Sexual Consent Practises on Oahu
Oahu is a beautiful island, full of good looking and fit people, but live here long enough and you'll definitely discover that there is a darker side to the island. Along with the party culture comes a very present drug culture, and the longer I've lived here, the more stories I would hear from women about men who were incredibly irresponsible with sex and consent. Especially with regards to condoms.
Female friends have complain that most men in Hawaii don't seem to believe in condoms. Men didn't carry condoms with them and would protest like babies if they were asked to wear one. In California, where I lived many years, men sounded comparatively good with awareness of safe sex conversations and the respect of boundaries.
Condoms falling or breaking is something that happens. I've had it happen before, and my reaction has been to be terrified and panic. Terrified of catching an STD or getting someone pregnant. I couldn't believe that guys would ever deliberately do this in Hawaii. It shows a disregard of respect and human care for the health of your partner and also to yourself. Sadly women are usually the more susceptible to catching STDs and of course it is women who get pregnant, not men.
Official information about stealthing is of course on Wikipedia - Non-consensual_condom_removal, but I write this article because... well whenever I hear about information worth share I like to write down my thoughts and share the link with friends.
In this case this article is very much warning women to be wary of men who seem "funny" about condoms. Don't let them get away with awful behavior, and don't risk an StD from someone immature and irresponsible.
I'd love to go further though. I've heard too many stories from friends about the toxic masculinity in Hawaii. With the high drug culture, almost everyone on this island has a story of female friends who were encouraged into taking substances (alcohol or hard drugs) and then get taken advantage of when their guard is down. Stories of sexual violation are common, and it's so common for men to complain about condoms that it's become the norm.
What might be really nice however, is to change the norm.
Changing the Norms to Keep Women Safe
Within the fire spinning community that I'm part of, similar bad practices of non-consent and substance abuse were once almost just as rapant, but then the wonderful Trial By Fire group decided to start a community with a focus on safety and guidelines around consent. And within a year, they created a space where women could feel safe, and a culture where people who violated the boundaries of others (men or women), would be reported and suffer repercussions.
Myself and another friend strongly believe this is a model which should be spread to other communities in Hawaii, not the least of which is the volleyball community which is known for their drinking and drug culture. The consumption of substances probably won't change in many of these communities, but the agreement to respect women's boundaries can be set. This is a draft email which might just work, and I won't know until someone leading the group steps up:
It's come to our attention that there may have been cases of sexual violation just on the periphery of this community, and we decide to step up as leaders and warn people. Non-consent isn't something we stand for.
Whenever one of us is coerced into sexual activities, it hurts our entire community, our trust and our safety. In the future we'd love to have “consent” as one of the principles of our community. This goes beyond just sex, if someone says no to a kiss, a hug or going out for drinks, then we respect that no. If you hear from a friend about incidents of violation, including the practice of stealthing (non-consensual condom removal) please report it to myself or one of the leaders of the group so we can deal with it appropriately.
We're here to have fun, and we're a fun group of good looking people, but from now on we're going to periodically post about the values of our group to this thread in the form of this image.
A Personal Note
I won't tell you all the reasons why this issue of consent and sexual safety is really close to my heart, but it does involve friends who were victimized, and that's why my first ever book "Ice Cream = Sex" features a safe sex conversation which you can read about at The CHIP Safe Sex Conversation. The first part of this is for consent, but it goes further to talk about history, because yes - it could be that you're having sex a second or third round, and the condom can fall off - and suddenly you'll regret that you don't really know when this person was last tested, or how many partners they've had since. That's why you ask beforehand. To save a lifetime of regret. It's just a little forward thinking. I think asking for a person's boundaries is the most important part though, and if you are of the opinion that condoms are a necessity, you should probably be assertive about it. If the person violates your boundaries then they have probably done this to others, and there's a big danger that nobody has had the courage to stand up to them.
So how do we fix this?
Well for one thing you can forward this article to your friend. For me personally. I intent to finish a book called "Dating in Hawaii", which probably won't sell thousands of copie, but it will certainly feature warning about stealthing in the hopes that the culture might change when people start to publish articles and book start to acknowledge the problem and suggest solutions.
- Being Silenced: The Impact of Negative Social Reactions on the Disclosure of Rape - great article that explains how we shouldn't turn a blind eye to instance of sexual abuse, it can feel just as devastating to the victim as the incident itself if they feel like nobody believes them or nobody cares.
- Stealthing in Oahu (google doc)