With the weather warming, it's time for yet another article reminding you that some men think your body is public property: the upskirt photographers are about to be trolling for your nether regions.
Emine Saner writes more about this not-so-new phenomenon of men who think it's perfectly acceptable and not at all violating to thrust their lenses between your unsuspecting legs and snap away like they belong there.
It is impossible to judge how many women have been victims of upskirting, though a quick internet search yields hundreds of sites with hundreds of thousands of images. And there may be millions more pictures on phones and laptops that have never been shared. They have been taken in the street, on escalators in shopping centres, on trains, at bus stops and in supermarkets, schools, offices and nightclubs.
Basically, anywhere you might have gone, someone might have been trying to see your underpants. A quick survey of Jezebel editors reveals that at least two of us has been upskirted to our knowledge (my upskirter caught an edge on his camera on my fishnets, ripping them and revealing himself) — though, more often than not, you don't even know.
And, in Britain, it's a cottage industry.
Upskirt photography is also routinely used by paparazzi photographers. Usually taken as a woman steps out of a car, "crotch shots" are prized by newspapers such as the Daily Sport and countless gossip and porn websites. While it is often assumed that a handful of celebrities, such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, actively encourage upskirt shots, many famous women are deeply upset by the prospect. In a recent interview, the Harry Potter actor Emma Watson described how, on a night out to celebrate her 18th birthday, "I realised that overnight I'd become fair game."
Now, that's just gross.
As in the U.S., there are few laws that specifically cover upskirting, though Linda Macpherson, a law professor and "expert on legal aspects of photography," was able to cite several prosecutions of upskirters that resulted in jail time or fines. But the legal aspect isn't the biggest problem for a lot of women.
For women who have become aware of such pictures being taken of them, "it can be extremely distressing," says a spokesperson from Victim Support. "The sense of violation can be the same as with other forms of sexual assault. We would encourage anyone who has been a victim to contact us." Parkinson says of her experience, "I felt unsettled, targeted, and helpless; there was nothing that could be done about what had happened, and nothing I could do to prevent it from happening again."
For the men that do it, it's obviously not about getting pictures of women's genitals (most of us wear underwear, after all), but it's the thrill of getting a picture of something they could see on a beach or in an underwear ad when it isn't consensual. They're not interested in women who want them to look, just like rapists aren't interested in women who want to have sex with them. They're getting off on violating you, not on smutty pictures, which is what makes it disturbing. It's like knowing that your rapist wanks to what he did to you later — it's disgusting, and feels like yet another violation.
'I Felt Completely Violated' [The Guardian]