Upskirting: A Privacy Violation You May Never See Coming

(This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)

I think I’ll wear a skirt to work tomorrow. Since the temperatures outside are still cool, I’m sure I’ll wear something underneath the skirt to cover my legs, like tights. As I recently learned, those tights should keep me safe from someone who may want to — well, angle a camera up my legs and capture a photo of what’s underneath. It’s called upskirting, and the practice is way more prevalent than I thought.

Apparently there are thousands of upskirt-photos online that were taken without the person’s knowledge (including tips and tricks for how to take these photos unobtrusively). One or more of those upskirt-shots could be mine — not that I’m planning to do any searching. I’ve never seen any of those photos, and if I can help it, I never will.

The issue is permission. I like to wear skirts and dresses to work; I do so at least a few days a week. Should I have to worry about some perv sticking a camera between my legs? Of course not. I also shouldn’t feel like I have to wear pants in order to defer unwanted attention. (My one advantage — at least when I’m on the move, like climbing up an escalator — is that I’m a pretty fast walker. Unless someone is super fast with their camera, they’re not getting anything.)

Most men already know this type of behavior isn’t acceptable and they’d never attempt to do such a thing. For the pervs who have to sneak around to see what they want to see, it’s a game. It’s not like they don’t have access to more than enough fully-naked pictures online and in print. Instead they need the feeling of power they get when they violate women who haven’t given their permission to be photographed. To avoid getting caught, they do things like hide their cameras in specially-designed bags — which means those bags can be set on the floor to capture just the right angle.

It makes me sick that there are people out there who go to such great lengths to do this. While learning about upskirting will force me to be more aware (seeing someone’s bag on the floor near my feet while I’m standing on the Metro, or while I’m waiting in line, is certainly going to make me re-think how and where I’m standing), it’s unfortunate I have to think about things like this in the first place.

(I know I’m not alone in warning potential predators of the repercussions if I were to ever discover someone in the act of taking one of these pictures.)

Has this ever happened to you, or do you know someone who was violated in this way? Do you already take precautions when you wear a skirt or dress in warm weather?

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