Monday, March 10, 2014


     By now, most of you out there have read or heard about last weeks MA Supreme Court ruling on "upskirting" and whether or not a woman and her thighs have an expectation of privacy whilst in public.  If you haven't had a chance here is a good snapshot of the situation:

    Hopefully, you also know that the state legislature and the governor stepped in on March 7th:
"Two days after the state's highest court sparked outrage when it ruled that state law allows people to take such photos, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill today to ban the practice, known as 'upskirting,' " the Boston Globe writes.
     While I agree with my friends and colleagues on the surprising nature of the ruling, and I'm glad that the governor stepped in to protect my nether region, there are other aspects of this situation that I believe should spark further debate.

- the police set up a sting operation in order to catch him ... this sort of procedure by the police has always concerned me.  The guy has pictures and videos of women's crotches.  There are 2 filed complaints about him ... but it doesn't count until you parade a female officer in a skirt in front of him.  Then when he takes that picture, we can prosecute.  What if he hadn't fallen for it?  Would the original complaints just not have mattered?  How far would the police have been willing to go on that skirt length before they would have felt that a line was crossed ... 

- which I hope leads to a conversation about the underlying problem with this ruling.  It's not that legislation hasn't kept up with technology (a camera is a camera, whether it's on a phone, a watch or it's a traditional looking camera).  It's not that I'm not really nude underneath my skirt because there's (theoretically) underwear down under.  It's that our society continues to perpetuate a "rape culture" and all that comes along with it.
     This goes far beyond a privacy matter.  Who would actually question that a woman's skin under her skirt (or a man in a kilt - we haven't mentioned this at all) is a private area.  This wasn't the beach with people dressed in all manner of swimsuits.  Unless you're swinging from one of the poles, I'm pretty sure you have no intention of sharing.  Although it was appropriate for the legislature and the governor to step in (as the media and public reaction reached a tipping point), this further validates my point.  Why does there need to be a special law?  Why isn't it just universally wrong to violate someone's privacy.  Why isn't it just universally wrong to force sexual contact on a woman - whether or not she was out late, whether or not she had a drink or 10, whether or not her skirt was short.
     The state Supreme Court stopped short of saying, "if their skirts had been longer, he never would have been able to take the pictures."  Instead of worrying about whether or not our laws have kept up with technology, perhaps our judicial system, and our society, should fully step out of the dark ages and embrace equal rights for all our citizens.

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