Skirting the Issue

I really have to say, if I haven’t said it lately, how much I love Feministing. Those ladies are so many degrees of awesome that it blows my mind, and they are constantly posting material which feeds my mind, and my ever-simmering rage against people as a whole. Every now and then, they post about something and I feel compelled to respond/join in, which is how I felt about the discussion of upskirting which started last week.

What is upskirting, you ask? Oh, you poor, innocent soul. Upskirting is a form of exploitation of women in which people, uhm, there’s really no way to say this. People attempt to photograph the private parts of unsuspecting women while they go about their daily business. I know, it sounded totally bizarre to me when I first heard about it, and I still can’t wrap my head around it. But apparently, the sight of a woman wearing a skirt is just too much for some people to handle, and they feel compelled to violate said woman by sneaking an illicit photograph of what’s under the skirt.

I tell you what, it’s enough to make me never want to wear skirts again.

One of the interesting things about this type of pornography is that it is heavily rooted in lack of consent, which differentiates it in my eyes from pornography in general.* Posed upskirting photographs with a consenting model are not popular. What people want are “illicit” photographs in which a woman’s private parts are photographed while she is unaware. This, my friends, is repulsive. It is disgusting and foul and wrong and it is, in my opinion, a prelude to rape.

Upskirting fans defend the practice, claiming that you lose your expectation of privacy when you go out in public.** But, as the ladies at Feministing rightly point out, there is a huge difference between being snapped on the street while you walk by, and being violated by someone who positions a camera in such a way that the lens goes up your skirt. Or who slips mirrors under women’s skirts.

Women don’t wear skirts for your pleasure. They most certainly don’t wear skirts in eager expectation of being violated by gross photographs. They wear skirts because the like them, or because they feel like it, because it seems like a good day to wear a skirt so, by Pete, let’s wear one.

When people tell me that exploitation of women isn’t an issue in modern society, I want to point them to the numerous completely foul upskirting sites across the Internet (some of which contain pornographic photographs of unconsenting minors, which is just doubly disgusting). And let’s not forget downblousing, the correlary practice.

It astounds me that this form of voyeurism isn’t illegal, thanks to the old “reasonable expectation of privacy” excuse. Apparently, every time I wear a skirt, I am issuing an open invitation to people who want to attempt to photograph my underwear. Ugh. I can’t help but wonder how people would feel about “uptrousering,” and if men were being violated in this way, how society would respond.

What’s wrong with porn with actual naked people? Or, if you’re really into voyeurism, is it really that much of a sacrifice to look at consenting voyeuristic porn? Do people not understand that any form of pornography which lacks consent is a form of exploitation, and that it basically condones violence against the subject? Do you really need to exploit and oppress someone else to get off? Because, if so, ew.

*I know that some feminists are opposed to all pornography, and I respect their rationale, I just happen to disagree with it.

**Which is something that irritates me immensely.