'I May Destroy You' Episode 4 tackles stealthing but Arabella's casual reaction leaves fans 'disturbed'

In the middle of sex, Arabella's book-guide Zain turns her around and takes the condom off


                            'I May Destroy You' Episode 4 tackles stealthing but Arabella's casual reaction leaves fans 'disturbed'
ichaela Coel as Arabella (HBO)

Spoilers for 'I May Destroy You' Episode 4 'That Was Fun'

Every week Michaela Coel's 'I May Destroy You' tackles new levels of sexual consent and the varying degrees at which it can be breached. From drunk assault to threesomes with strangers and now stealthing and dry humping without consent — the last four episodes have been a wild ride for both viewers and especially survivors of similar scenarios that don't necessarily seem like rape, but are breaches of consent. In Episode 4, it was Arabella's (Michaela Coel) book-guide Zain (Karan Gill) taking off his condom in the middle of sex without telling her, but shockingly enough, when she learns of it, she laughs and jokes about it with him while they step out to get her a Plan-B. And this has left fans concerned and confused, apart from the 'disturbed' normal that the HBO series makes viewers feel. 

When we meet Arabella in Episode 4, it's seven weeks after she was assaulted at the night club — the memories of it still blurry. She can picture the man's face clearly now but cannot quite cope with it on her own, unless she is surrounded by people. She does, however, attempt at reclaiming her sexuality by casually admitting she and her book guide are going to have sex at some point or another, so they might as well get to it. In the middle of sex, after coasting through the very brief initial triggers, Zain turns her around and takes the condom off — something she finds out about only after they're done and she tells him where he can dispose off the used condom. 

Michaela Coel as Arabella, Karan Gill as Zain (HBO)

When Zain tells her about what he did, he adds the usual "I thought you knew", pretty much gaslighting her, and asks her how could she not feel it? But instead of a big blow up, it's all fun and games for Arabella. She is fine with it as long as he pays for her contraceptive pill and that has left fans wondering if she fully realizes the extent of what Zain's done. Concerned that she isn't entirely processing it or she needs to be made aware that secretly taking out a condom during sex is rape, fans flocked to Twitter about how disturbing the whole scene was. "I’m so disturbed by this episode of I May Destroy you. WTFFFFF. I need to talk this out. People are so sick," tweeted a user.

"Arabella probably isn’t fully processing what Zain has done, just yet," shared a fan on Twitter. Another added: "The way Arabella brushed off the condom issue... so many layers involved with consent and assault, so much to learn and unlearn." Stating things for what they are, a viewer wrote: "Removing the condom during the act is assault (consent has to be continuous)." A lot of viewers were also left confused by the scene and explaining it for everyone a fan shared: "For those who don’t know what stealthing is, it is the act of Non-consensual condom removal during intercourse and it is sexual assault. The fact that Arabella was using sex to escape the pain of her first sexual assault to only be assaulted again is terrible."

The scene also touched viewers on how common this kind of violation of sexual consent is. A user shared: "This man just pulled the condom off wtf. Wild how often and casually this happens in real life." Another touted Coel for addressing the issue so accurately, noting: "Good to see 'Stealthing' being talked about because this happens a lot again it’s about a man removing the condom without consent in both her & the gay males scene." Another tweeted: "Zain not seeking Arabella's consent before removing the condom whilst having consensual sex with her is absolute BS. #IMayDestroyYou This scenario plays out in most relationships and boom, Pregnancy or STIs." 

'I May Destroy You' airs every Monday at 9 pm only on HBO.

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