Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Just Who's Patting You Down?

As you may know, Americans are having a collective hissy-fit about the new airport pat-down procedures. In case you've been lucky enough to miss out, we have some bright, shiney, new, full body scanning machines that basically render you stark naked to the screener. Unless there's a fetish for saggy-boobed, waist-deprived women of a certain age, I don't think my screening will cause many waves, however, I do have a fairly lithe Queenager and it got me thinking.

First, how do I feel about a possible perv screening her? TSA spokes people have tried to placate the public by promising that they're not perverts, but surely these new procedures are going to attract a few?

Second, what would I do if the scanning machine suddenly became "over-manned" as my daughter approached? Yes, she or I, (she is still a minor) could refuse the scan and opt for the pat down, but is that any better? If you've seen it on the news, it's no longer a pat down, it's one step away from a cavity search. They don't just pat you, they move boobs around, and lift them up if necessary. (Fair enough, for those of us who fail the pencil test, "under there" might be a good place to carry a couple of sticks of dynamite.) Interestingly, it's been mostly men who have kicked up a fuss, with the famous "Don't touch my junk" threat going viral this week.

Third, what about the people doing the pat downs? (See amusing Saturday Night Live portrayal here.) They send female passengers to a female security person and males to a man, for obvious reasons. Most of us don't want to think anyone's getting their jollies off while fondling every inch of our bodies - for as long as they want to. And in somce cases, that would include spouses. But, (and here's where I wonder if I'm being prejudiced or non-PC), what if the security officer isn't of the same sexual orientation? Isn't that like sending a female passenger to be patted down by a man? And what could you do about it anyway? It's not like a woman could insist on only being groped   patted down by a female who doesn't "look" like she might be attracted to her. We all know where that would lead.

And don't forget, you won't be patted down just because you refuse the new body scan; if your underwire bra, titanium knee or silver filling sets off the alarm, you'll be in for that little delight too.

Better warn my hip-replaced mother!

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18 comments:

  1. Personally I'd rather be full body scanned than patted down. At least the scans are anonymous, (and if you've seen them, they are hardly titillating).

    But I don't really object to either, as long as we aren't held up for hours at airports. Because that really does mean the terrorists have won.

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  2. Good lord, bring on the scanners for me. if anyone lifts up my boob someones getting floored. Sorry about the grammar I have no clue how to type on an iPad. happy travels. X

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  3. Good lord, bring on the scanners for me. if anyone lifts up my boob someones getting floored. Sorry about the grammar I have no clue how to type on an iPad. happy travels. X

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  4. As you say, it's not about you, but about your daughter. I think I'd take the scanner. I like the anonymity, and if you don't think about it too much, you might forget that the person viewing you sees you naked. Of course I couldn't give two hoots who fondles me: I won't enjoy it and I imagine it would be pretty hard for them to in such an exposed environment. I've certainly never been fondled ^that^ much when setting off the alarms in the past......but how will I feel when my girls are teenagers?

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  5. Frankly I can't get excited about this stuff. If someone sees me naked I think a sympathy card is in order. I am sure, like doctors, they see your body as a potential bomb or drug haven rather than a thrill. More of a concern for me now I am a urostomate is the bother that urostomates and other stoma wearers have at airportsecurity. I have to carry a GP letter and a little card to explain my circumstances and apparently urostomates are often taken 'behind the scenes' to be searched. Have lots of leaflets giving advice. Sigh

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  6. Having been patted down I'd opt fo the scanner but if it were my teenage girl I would want to be right there with them; glaring, or better yet have her dad there...

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  7. Jo - One poor chap here had his colostomy bag broken and he was covered in urine. The screener was as upset as the guy and it was all over the news, so hopefully people will be trained in the correct ways to screen in these situations.

    NFAH - Oooh, now I don't think I would be at all happy about that. I have been patted down (before it was so invasive) quite a few times but never by a male.

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  8. I think I would go for the scanner too but it is when kids get a pat down that I have problems with. I have had a pat down twice and my OH seems to always get one when we fly. We are always telling our kids that no one should touch them in certain places yet we let strangers at the airport do it. Is it me or does that send mixed messages to kids? My kids are 7 and 5 and I would not be happy with anyone TSA or otherwise running their hands over my kids bodies.

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  9. I have a more laid back attitude on this one and I would definitely opt for the scanner. If worried I would make sure I don't have anything that wouldn't pass the detector even if it means not wearing a bra or wearing a wire free one(although I realize that's not an option for people with medical devices.) But I won't let a pat-down stop me from getting on that plane when I've spent hard earned money on a ticket. Christ, I average $1k for a ticket to London so I've already taken it up the backside if you know what I mean.

    Like Jo, I don't worry about these things and I wouldn't if I had a daughter either but that's just me and I wouldn't worry with my son either. We have male x-ray technicians at our hospital and male nurses and doctors. I can imagine that after seeing hundreds of genitalia throughout the day it gets quite mundane. If my daughter flew all the time, I think I would worry more about radiation exposure than anything else. I can't imagine that TSA officials are going to tolerate obvious gawking. On the flip side, I feel sorry for the TSA workers. They're just doing what they are told and this wasn't their decision but they are taking the brunt of it. A month ago they were going to work like any normal person, earning a paycheck to feed their families and now the public is comparing them to perverts. There is so much hysteria out there and negative emotion, I would probably quit my job if it were me.

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  10. Actually, in the article I linked to, it says that quite a lot of TSA workers have been assaulted because of what they now have to do. I can't say I would ever go that far either!

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  11. There's some worry about the radiation from the scans for frequent fliers. What's worse a pad down or possibly getting a cancer from being scanned frequently? Sheesh I think I'll walk!

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  12. Toni,

    In case you don't see my tweet, read this blog. Looks like it's much ado about nothing.

    http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/11/airport-wait-time-status-updates-for.html

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  13. My freaky OCD mind is worried about the beams of the scanning machine more than the roving hands of the lesbian security person. I say let her have her fun.

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  14. Oh man. If I didnt have anything to worry about today now Im worried about a) my daughter getting a pat down from the Wrong Kind of Person, or b) pervs joining the security forces at airports, and c) cancer from scanners. Tomorrow can you post about somethign funny please? Like the lovely Green Bean Casserole you had for Thanksgiving or something?! ;)

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  15. I agree with MWA - not keen on the beams of the scan and I guess they (straights or gays) will be patting down so many bodies that mine won't make any impact. It's not as bad as going for a smear test!!! However, like everyone else, I would not be keen on anyone of either sex being free to pat my daughter. Isn't it a sad world that they have to do this, but they do, they do. Sigh. I'm going to go to Clacton next year instead!!

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  16. Isn't "patting down" something we possibly face already? I was patted down about 20 years ago - I was more embarrassed at being selected than the process itself. It was on a school trip and the scanner kept beeping. I was just wearing a lose summer dress so it didn't take long.

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  17. Congratulations, you've made me laugh about something that I've not had much of a sense of humour about up until now! I can't decide which option is worse, so I think I'll just stay home!

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  18. Returning to the UK after the summer, my 9 year old's arm was in a sling. They wiped the sling with some kind of cloth, which they then analysed to make sure it wasn't explosive. But they didn't check whether he was hiding anything in the sling, which seemed odd to me. They just wiped the visible outer side of the sling. Odd.

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