Thursday 26 February 2009

Looking for a moral low ground

Taking photos up unsuspecting womens' skirts in public places must be a bit of a challenge- it must require a bit of thought, a bit of daring and a bit of luck. In addition, you’d need a warped sense of entitlement, a distinct lack of morality and some much skewed confidence.

The depressing thing is that many people (mostly men) will find ‘upskirting’ a trivial game. For many, women’s outrage will only add to the fun. There are apparently hundreds of photos and sites exhibiting them across the internet. A quick search left me livid.

It is horrifying that certain men find such ‘Happy-Snapping’ acceptable behaviour. I naively assumed most men would be equally incredulous but was astounded to discover it became such a popular pastime in Japan that companies amended their phones so that photo-taking makes a ompulsory shutter sound. That’s not a change brought about by only a handful of men.

Feminists these days are often incorrectly accused and subsequently mocked for having a sense of humour failure. This infuriating allegation belittles women’s sense of indignation at the same time as dismissing the basic fact that society still allows, and often encourages, men to enjoy power over women.

In addition to the large and obvious ways we see this (-unequal pay, violence against women etc), it is manifest in an infinite number of small and varied behaviours. ‘Upskirting’ is one of them.

Men are busy sneakily snapping the bottoms of women- and, more disturbingly, girls- that mostly remain blissfully unaware and therein lies the ‘kick’. It’s less about sex and more about power.

Either way ‘upskirting’ is an assault, and one that calls for criminalisation.


Alex said...

Katy- I share your sense of disgust, and also disappointment on behalf of my "fellow man".

I don't imagine there is a published link between upskirting specifically and the phone-camera laws in the East, as opposed to general unwanted photographs.

"Feminists these days" is the beginning of a paragraph which doesn't do justice to the very many men who think such a practice is deplorable.

Violence against women I think most would agree is something that can equally classed as sexism, but I don't think it is appropriate to draw direct parallels in this instance.

Your very point that women don't know unskirting is occurring shows why legislation to criminalise it would be futile- but what would such ruling hope to achieve? The left is often accused of attempting to legislate morality into society without much effect- even where it might address the effects (for example banning internet distribution), it fails to engage with the root causes.

What proactive steps do you think policy formers could take in this instance to make positive change?

taitle said...

I am absolutely disgusted too.

But the real answer is just not buying media which sink that low.

Calix said...

I agree with both points but think Alex is right about criminalisation.

Faced with such absuive and degrading behaviour to women I can totally understand Katy's reaction, but criminalisation is not the answer. We live in a society that is too tempted to criminalise and this can be a knee-jerk and right-wing reaction to any social problem.

However, of course if an assault is carried out it is criminal.

I was interested in Katy's point about Japan. When I went there I couldn't help but notice this strange juxtaposition between formality and great hospitality as opposed to semi-pornographic bill-boards with girls that look barely 14. Apparantly Tokyo has separate tube carriages for women because there are so used to unwelcome touching.

Rachael Jolley said...

Well, let's hear some suggestions of what might help then?

I feel us tutting about it on the web is going to have little effect.

Katy Taylor said...

Calix- surely this behaviour should be catagorised as a form of minor assualt. Many women who have caught men in the act have reported feeling violated and dirty afterwards.

If privacy laws criminalise taking photos of people in places where they have a "reasonable expectation of privacy", surely women walking around in public places have a 'reasonable expectation' of keeping their pants private. And although the women may not know it is happening other people may spot what's going on. If it was made an offence then the public would have more power to stop it.