This July, a man snapped a picture of an unsuspecting woman's cleavage while they rode the Boston subway. Now, experts are divided over whether he committed a crime.
Richard Weir of the Boston Herald reports that on July 5, a woman on Boston's Green line leaned over to pick up her stuff, "accidentally exposing her breasts." She heard a click, and looked up to find a dude "admiring his photo" of her boobs. So she snapped his picture and gave it to Boston police. But while most people seem to agree that taking upskirt photos is illegal, the status of "downshirt" pics is a little more complicated.
The Suffolk County DA's office says the photographer is a criminal — a spokesman explains that "taking a picture of a woman who leans over and inadvertently exposes part of her chest is in our mind a crime" and "a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy beneath his or her own clothing." But Boston civil rights lawyer Howard Friedman says, "You don't have an expectation of privacy on an MBTA train." And attorney William Korman concurs, arguing, "If you take a picture of a woman in a skimpy bathing suit at the beach, that's not a crime. How can it be a crime then on the bus or subway?"
The question of privacy on the subway is complex, but it might be better to ask whether downshirt photos constitute harassment. To take another example, there's a certain level up to which public cat-calling, annoying as it may be, is a legitimate form of free speech. But when it becomes threatening or creates an unsafe environment, it's worth trying to put a stop to it. The same is true of photography — there's a point at which it becomes not an innocent pursuit, but something that makes public spaces unsafe for women. And I'd argue that downshirt photos are past that point.
Image via Boston Herald.
Not All Aboard On T Perv [Boston Herald]