Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

My inner copy editor on the TSA feel you up/pat you down thing

We fly a lot and while I found the puffing scanners much much worse, I put up with the loss of privacy/dignity but I'm starting to freak a little about the breast cancer/melanoma risk from backscatter scanners (less for the fractional additional radiation than for the suggestion from UCSF that the radiation absorption wasn't correctly calculated) - plus I find the things claustrophobic so I'd be glad if this particular piece of security theatre fell to the rising ire of the American travelling public. But I keep hearing people say the TSA opt-out gropes are sexual assault' and I don't think they are. It's intimate and unwanted touch; it's an indignity - and it's not like a visit to the gynecologist because the touch is neither expected nor medically necessary (and I'm not convinced that even an intimate pat down will catch explosives that are tucked away real well, so to speak). But it's not sexual touch; I'm assuming the TSA staff aren't getting any sexual satisfaction either from touching the sweaty thighs of random strangers or from making travellers submit to the pat down (they're not doing it because they can, they're doing it because it's their job) - and I think intent matters very much for the definition of sexual assault. I'm not saying the experience won't be unpleasant, distressing, embarrassing, potentially triggering for people, but I also think that this kind of intrusion is more likely to be done away with if we attack it for what it is rather than giving it a more dramatic label that can't ultimately be substantiated.

What am I missing?
Tags: personal, rant

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