Recently, Joe Budden, the 42-year-old rapper-turned-podcaster, admitted on a recent episode of The Joe Budden Podcast, which has since been taken down, to have faked using a condom during sex. “Even I done walked in the corner and faked like I was putting a condom on before,” Joe Budden said with a laugh. “That sh– be working. They’re none the wiser!” he said in an audio clip that was originally shared by The ShadeRoom, adding, “Yes, I did that.”
Upon hearing the audio, I was in disbelief and disgusted by his callous behavior. Joe Budden was openly admitting to engaging in a nonconsensual sexual act and thought nothing of it. In fact, he found it to be funny.
Secretly removing a condom before or during sex without the other person’s consent is called stealthing. Removing and or damaging a sexual barrier of any kind without the consent and knowledge of the other party is sexual assault. It is a crime and there is nothing funny about that.
Many people were left disturbed by Budden’s past actions and called him out about it. However, instead of admitting his wrongdoings, he doubled down and called the outrage from his statements a ploy against him as a Black man. “Y’all really want all Black men in jail lol,” he commented on Twitter.
I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m not. Budden, like many of his male counterparts, don’t see nonconsensual condom removal as a problem. Researcher Alexandra Brodsky published a study about stealthing in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law and found that stealthing perpetrators justified their behavior by using misogynist rhetoric like stealthing is a “man’s right” and that “men are supposed to spread their seed—even when reproduction is not an option.” Full stop, stealthing is rooted in the desire to exert power and control over another human being. It’s a total violation of someone’s trust for the sexual gain of another.
Every two minutes, an American is sexually assaulted. That’s an average of 237,868 victims of rape or sexual assault each year. This is alarming AF. In a 2017 study that surveyed more than 2,000 people at a local clinic over a three-month period, nearly one in three of the women said they had been “stealthed” at some point in their life. About 19 percent of men who had sex with other men also said it had happened to them. Another 2019 study, which recruited women 21 to 30 with “increased sexual risk characteristics,” found that 12 percent of respondents said a partner engaged in stealthing and nearly half said they had experienced some form of coercive resistance to condoms. This is not okay. We have to start holding these men accountable. And by accountable, I mean in the court of law.
Even though stealthing is a form of sexual assault and sexual assault is a crime, stealthing isn’t a punishable crime in the United States as of yet. Federal legislation introduced a bill in California earlier this year though that would explicitly name stealthing as a form of sexual violence and create a legal pathway for victims to sue perpetrators for damages and relief. A separate bill, called the Consent Is Key Act, would encourage other states to pass their own laws authorizing civil damages for survivors by increasing funding for federal domestic violence programs in states that pass those laws. So, unfortunately for Mr. Budden, he won’t be going to jail any time soon.
Stealthing is a breach of trust and bodily autonomy that leads to psychological distress and feelings of shame. Men like Budden have been getting a slap on the wrist for far too long when it comes to this behavior. It’s time we start holding them accountable, or as my grandma used to say, “hitting them where it hurts.” He won’t be going to jail but we can and should stop supporting him and his podcast.