The Stealthing Panic: Gendered Neoliberalism in Online Media
Thomson, Ashley. 2019. 'The Stealthing Panic: Gendered Neoliberalism in Online Media.' Australian Humanities Review 64: 1-23.
23 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2019 Last revised: 21 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 27, 2019
Stealthing (the act of a man removing a condom during sex without the knowledge or consent of his sexual partner) was propelled onto the international stage as a cause for alarm in early 2017, due to intensive media coverage of an academic paper by Alexandra Brodsky. Brodsky’s paper asserted that stealthing was ubiquitous and that legal responses were in order, and the coverage that ensued displayed startling uniformity of opinion as to stealthing’s nature, cause and remedy, despite the absence of proof of its ubiquity and deliberation over its facticity. This paper argues that stealthing became and remains the object of a moral panic, and that this panic is a symptom of the advance of the neoliberal agenda. It locates and describes the function of moral-entrepreneurial intermediaries (MEIs) in online media, who escalated and traded on the terminology of the stealthing panic to enhance their individual value, engaging in gendered neoliberalism in the process. By linking the stealthing panic to neoliberalism, and specifically neoliberal humanitarianism, this paper provides a basis on which it and related phenomena may be co-comprehended at the level of structural causes and broad and inequitable distributions of power.
Keywords: stealthing, neoliberalism, gender, moral panic, neoliberal feminism
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