Laura // 25 February 2009
Emine Saner has a piece up at The Guardian on the practice of “upskirting”, where men take photos or film up women’s skirts in public. Apparently, hundreds of thousands of these invasive images have been placed online, and no doubt there are more stored offline. Just reading about these vile, pathetic excuses for human beings makes me feel sick:
There are endless web forums where “amateur” upskirters can exchange tips on how to get the “best” pictures. One was posted by a man who had made a “cam-bag” – a holdall with a specially made pocket with a hole in it for a digital video camera lens. Another writes: “Never forget to shoot their faces before or after to know which girls the ass belongs to … After the first 50 asses, they look very similar and you lose most of the fun. After upskirting them, either step back and wait for them to turn or step by them and shoot direckly [sic] sidewise.”
I can only imagine how violated the women who find themselves on the receiving end of this practice must feel.
There is no specific law against upskirting, although perpetrators can potentially be prosecuted under the Sexual Offenses Act if it takes place “in a place which would reasonably be expected to provide privacy in the circumstances”, or under the criminal offence of “outraging public decency”. However, while one repeat offender was sentenced to a year imprisonment, another got away with a £500 fine and £500 costs.
As ever, comments on the piece range from women blaming: ‘wear trousers’, to informing us poor womenfolk how we should feel about male abuse: ‘WHAT GOES BY YOU, WONT HURT YOU’ via the inevitable what-about-the-men: ‘I hardly think it compares with violence against men’ and general bemusement:
Up-skirt photographs and the men who take them are both stupid. These photos have no appeal to most men. What can you possibly see that is more titillating than what you can see on a beach or in a strip club?
Most probably nothing. But much of the ‘titilation’ no doubt comes from the assertion of male power and entitlement to women’s bodies that comes from snapping under her clothes without her consent, and keeping that snap for himself (or sharing it with other perpetrators to prove his male prowess). Like verbal and physical street harassment, it is also an assertion of male dominance of public space. When we enter it, we become fair game.
Well if I ever catch a guy upskirting me or any other woman, he’ll instantly become fair game for my boots. In his crotch.