Hands Off!

It couldn't happen to me.

Or so you thought. And so I thought.

Until a recent flight out of Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, CA.

From the report I filed with the TSA when I got home:

I am almost 82 years of age and was using a wheelchair. I informed the TSA that I had had a hip replacement. I had just gone through the x-ray machine when someone said they wanted to look at the top of my left shoulder. Then a female TSA agent said she had to examine my genital areas. She asked if I wanted to go into a private room and I said no, I wanted to be out where everyone could see what she was doing. She did not look in my shoes or my hat, both of which I was wearing. She told me she was going to examine my breasts, which she did, and my groin areas, which she also did, inside and down the thighs and under the buttocks and down my legs. She also lifted the bottom of my shirt at the waist and swabbed my hands, I presume for gunshot residue. It was humiliating and abusive and I was shaking afterwards. I was still in tears when I got home later that evening.

I have subsequently learned, from other women, of similar abuses.

Has airport in-security become a substitute for rape? Isn't it time to acknowledge sexual harrassment as a crime, even and especially when committed by a badge and a uniform?

What has happened to us? What have we turned into? Has fear become a weapon of mass destruction, turning us against each other? Richard Falk writes recently of the dangers of exceptionalism. He points out that the concept, and the danger, extend far beyond the middle eastern nations, indeed far beyond anti-semitism.

In fact the danger is at our doorstop. Our survival as a species depends on our willingness to reach out and help each other. It means acceptance, rather than criticism. It means an open heart, an open mind, an open hearthside. Because otherwise it may well mean an end to a species.*

Were you (wo)man-handled at an airport? Did you report it? If not, why not? If you want to, here is the link to file a complaint. And keep in mind that sexual harrassment encompasses many levels: just read the story of Daniela Ligiero as she talks of her own experience and reminds us that 35-70% of women worldwide have been the victims of sexual violence.

If you want your daughter/granddaughter/wife to be treated this way, then by all means stay silent.

But if you are as horrified as I, then speak up. While you still can. Before it is too late.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2016

*For more about an open mind, viewers might want to read "The Mighty Tortoise".