Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On Being Groped By a Stranger, or My First TSA Pat-Down

As I write this, I'm sitting in Boston Logan airport, past security, and at my gate.  I think Logan is a really good airport, actually, in terms of efficiency, ease of access, and generally friendly staff.  So I want you to know this is not a complaint about the airport, but about the procedure itself.

When I travel, I usually travel with JD.  This is the first time I've traveled without him in years, actually.  We like being together, and we don't really have any reasons to travel alone, currently.  We'd discussed the backscatter vs the patdown before, and I'd come to the conclusion that, as much as I didn't like the idea of being groped, it was better than being exposed to unknown radiation risk, especially since both of my parents have had cancer, with my dad's skin cancer reappearing multiple times.  In our ideal scenario, i would request to be patted down in a private room with JD present.  But JD wasn't there today, and I was nervous and so, I got the pat down in public.

My terminal wasn't very full-- only a few people behind me to watch the patdown-- but it was still unnerving to be patted down in full view of others, because it really does involve groping.  The woman administering it was very professional, and told me everything she was doing in advance, but it was still unnerving to have someone touching areas that I generally don't let people who are not JD touch.  And in public.  I didn't get the breast cup and lift some people described, but the crotch cupping and but and breast contouring were quite unnerving as it was.

It wasn't as bad as I expected it to be, but for some reason, I still feel dirty and embarrassed.    Not dirty like I did anything bad, but dirty like skin-crawling.  It WAS embarrassing though, and it was strange and I did not like it.  I will still pick it over the backscatter, but now that it isn't just a hypothetical, my "whatever, I'll choose the sexual assault option" grumbling is less hypothetical.  I wasn't harmed in anyway, but... in a culture that does value bodily privacy and autonomy, it isn't pleasant to be touched in ways you don't approve of , in public, by a stranger.

Also: I forgot to take my liquids bag out of my purse.  They didn't notice that, though.


Death Vajra said...

Hey Amanda, take that visa donation crap off your site, what are you doing?

The Biscuit Queen said...

Yuck. My family and I are flying to the UK for the Download Festival in June, and I have not flown since the TSA started this crap. I am very nervous about it.

It IS invasive, and it does NOT make us any safer. It is still very possible to put things on the plane as frieght which is not checked. These packages could contain explosives which would bring down the plane just as fast.

There is no such thing as absolute safety. I think people need to stop flying as a rule until the airlines feel the pain and change the rules. If I could get from the US to the UK any other way I would do it. Unfortunatly I don't have weeks to sail there. I won't be flying anywhere else anytime soon, I can tell you that.

I am sorry you had to deal with that. It is good you are writing about it, as this is the only way things will change. People need to complain about it and get the word out that we will think twice about flying.