A Sex Educator Gets Real About the California Stealthing Ban

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November 7, 2021

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(NEW YORK) —Niki Davis-Fainbloom rings me between meetings with the city noises bustling through the speakers. She’s chipper and ecstatic to talk about it—sex, that is.

Despite the taboo, Davis-Fainbloom is a sex educator which comes with a variety of different roles, including columnist, workshop facilitator, counselor, and more. She has dedicated her life to understanding—and teaching—the complexity of relationships in all ways. Most importantly, Davis-Fainbloom isn’t shy about the subject matter.

Recent conversations around sexual consent have led California lawmakers to ban “stealthing,” a practice in which an individual removes a condom during sex without their partner’s consent or against their partner’s wishes.  In her interview with The Click, Davis-Fainbloom explains what the law means for stealthing survivors, perpetrators, and the practice of consent.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

The Click: Tell me how you got into sex education and what kind of qualifications you have.

Davis-Fainbloom: Have you seen the show Sex Education? I was kind of just a little kid that… was just always sort of fascinated by sexuality and how it impacts relationships and happiness and all that. I did my master’s degree at NYU. I worked for Mount Sinai Hospital in their rape crisis center. Now I am a freelance sex educator, writer, and counselor.

The Click: Why do you think the field of sex education is so important, and how has it changed over time?

Davis-Fainbloom: We sort of didn’t focus on sex education, especially not in school. So, the best you would get is sort of like a fear-based lecture about how to protect yourself. A lot of private schools are doing a lot better. It seems like we’re very slowly going in a good direction.

The Click: How do you define consent, and what techniques do you use to teach about it?

Davis-Fainbloom: I think [consent is] something that needs to be continual throughout an interaction—you can always change your mind. It should be an enthusiastic desire and communicating that desire to another partner. The way I like to teach it is to sort of go through a variety of different scenarios where we can help folks understand where these regions of concern happen or where there are misunderstandings or mistakes when it comes to consent. 

The Click: What are your thoughts on this ban? Do you consider stealthing assault?

Niki Davis-Fainbloom: Every time you are either escalating or shifting an encounter you need to check in, right? So, if you kiss them and then you want to move up to oral sex, communicate and make sure. So, I would say taking off a condom without consent is a huge breach. I would call that assault. You’re not communicating. I think the fact that that is a crime makes logical sense because we should have control over our bodies.

The Click: How much of a difference will this make do you think, and do you think it will be enforced in our judicial system?

Davis-Fainbloom: Sexual violence is something that’s really, really hard to prosecute. It comes down to one person’s voice over another’s. I do think that shifting the law will hopefully help folks know more about this and know that it’s a crime… but I don’t necessarily see a large number of cases coming forward.

The Click: What can we, as individuals, who are outside the system, do to help facilitate that change?

Davis-Fainbloom: Getting educated, understanding your biases, and then if you can find the ways to support, maybe more grassroots smaller organizations.

 

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