Prophylactic power plays

This week California became the first state to make it illegal for a man to remove a condom during sex without a woman’s consent. How something with such grave consequences for women could fly under the legal radar for so long is difficult to understand. For the sake of a more intense sexual experience, a man exposes a woman to the risk of disease and unwanted pregnancy, not to mention an assault on her autonomy. The practice, known as stealthing, is about to get an important hearing in Canada. In November the Supreme Count of Canada will hear arguments from a feminist legal body (LEAF) in connection with a case known as R. v. Kirpatrick, posing the question of whether someone who initially agrees to a woman’s request to wear a condom and then doesn’t comply is committing a sexual assault. The Court’s decision “will impact marginalized individuals – including Black, Indigenous, and trans women – who are disproportionately the victims of sexual violence, and often denied the equal protection of the criminal law,” says a Leaf spokesperson.