Terror and Safety
November 16, 2010

I have no lead-in to this post. No build up to ease you in.

Because there was no lead-in for me. No easing into it.

I was sexually assaulted from the time I was five until I moved out of the house. At times, photographed.

It's taken me years of hard work to come to terms with what happened, but I have and I'm at peace with it. It shaped who I am and how I see the world ... but maybe not in the ways you think.

What I learned is that no matter what you do, how many precautions you take, no one is guaranteed safety in this life. This could be a really sad statement, but it's not. It's not that no one is safe, exactly, it's that we're not guaranteed safety.

There is being smart.
There is being stupid.
And there is being so damn afraid that you are no longer living.

And NONE of those guarantees safety.

I choose to live.

There are times when I don't take enough risk. But I try to be smart about it. Make sure that I'm living my life with a reasonable attempt at safety and risk and life.

And that is why I'm calling out the TSA screenings for what they are. Total bullshit. Security theatre. All for show.

People who want to blow up planes or buildings or shoot each other ... they will find ways to do so.

But there is a balance between how we protect ourselves and how we live.

Using millimeter wave to "photograph" our nekkid bodies is not guaranteed to keep us safe. There are ways to take a plane down that could bypass these screenings.

Using an invasive pat-down is not guaranteed to keep us safe.

I, personally, will not submit to the extra radiation of the scanners. One, after all the cancer tests I've been through, I don't need any extra radiation if I can avoid it. Two, I don't care how grainy or "not personally identifiable" the "photographs" are - I've been photographed nude against my will before and I will not do it again.

And the "enhanced" pat-down? I'm done with flashbacks now. Finally. I'm living a pretty normal life. And I'll be damned if I allow some stranger to touch me there for no damned reason. Feeling trapped, like I have no choice, but have to be fondled?

I know that to keep me, personally, safe, I can't submit to either the scanner or the pat-down.

And, since I'm "randomly" selected for "special" screening every time I go on any plane bigger than a puddle-jumper, I know that I can not fly until this blows over.

Until we as a nation come to our senses and remember that there is being smart, there is being stupid, and there is living.

I aim to live.

Posted by Red Monkey at November 16, 2010 5:46 PM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | Struggles | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

 

WHG said:

Thank you. I have been trying to figure out how, or if, I should write something similar but haven't found my voice. My issue with the scanner is also about safety, both emotional and physical, and yet the "non-punitive" assault by TSA agents is clearly not an option for survivors like us. Where does that leave us? I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure it's not on the plane.

November 16, 2010 11:50 PM

 

Alan said:

imho, one should NOT have to be sexually assaulted in order to get on an airplane. I did write about this:

http://www.broowaha.com/articles/8538/tsa-agents-should-register-as-sex-offenders

November 17, 2010 11:37 AM

 

BusyDad said:

When I first heard of this story and the negative buzz it generated, I was really annoyed, to be honest. I was annoyed because I saw it as really insensitive to people who were victims of actual sexual assault. Because I think being groped in a pat down by someone who has to do it because their boss mandated it is not the same as some sicko targeting a victim and committing the most heinous of crimes behind closed doors.

I never saw it from your perspective. And coming from you in this way, I can respect your side of it. For someone who lived through that, I can see how this would bring up horrific memories and feelings.

I wonder, though, what is your opinion of people who have never been sexually assaulted calling it sexual assault? Does that irk you in any way? Don't you think it trivializes the matter and disrespects victims of sexual assault? Kind of in the same way saying "wow, that term paper totally raped me!" in front of an actual rape victim?

Red Monkey says: Great question! It doesn't bother me, although I've seen a few people that it has bothered. But just because someone knows that the TSA agent is going to touch them, doesn't make it any less an assault to me. It's unwanted touching. It's beyond uncomfortable for many people, not just those who've been raped or molested.
That's part of what's so wrong here to me. Someone going through the line has only the choice between x-ray and being touched against their desire. Even if they know it's coming and have at some level accepted it, they're trapped. And to me, that is assault. And in the case of the blogger, Erin, I would even classify it as rape. (Maybe not legally, depending on the state, but that instance to me is going WAY too far.)
Or maybe I'm just projecting. But that's my take on it.
November 17, 2010 7:30 PM

I hadn't realized how invasive the new pat-downs were or what the pictures looked like until I did a little research and now? Now I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of flying. But I am even MORE uncomfortable with the idea of some stranger taking pictures of my children or trying to grope them down. They have a monopoly on the travel! I guess we could go by train, but who's to say the gov't won't start encroaching on train travel?

I am so sorry for your experiences and for the memories this change in flight procedures has brought up again. I truly hope the TSA adjusts their requirements soon.

November 18, 2010 5:13 PM

 

Suebob said:

I'm sorry you had to go through what you did, and I understand how you would object to the new procedures. I think they are really going too far in the name of safety.

November 28, 2010 8:50 PM
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