I'm back in the US but I haven't been subject to one of those full body scans yet. With a new invasion of privacy, a new piece of security state theatre meant to do nothing but force people to submit to random authority once again in the name of "terrorism" (they actually did make us so afraid of traveling that we're abandoning our basic principles... how can we say they haven't won?).
And, of course, it comes with a round of crazy. Last week while I was gone, Peter Labarbera, an internet homophobe who's made a name for himself in some circles by being a clown. When he clowns, some of us clown back, and we feel better, like we won some sort of skirmish in this LGBT war. Otherwise, he's a nobody.
But he did make a point last week, a fairly obvious point that got him mocked although I don't really see how people can disagree with his premise (although his wording and conclusions are back in the silly category):
Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano went out of her way yesterday to stress that the TSA pat-downs are "same-gender" - mostly to reassure women that men will not be groping them at airports in the name of safety.
"But what about homosexual TSA agents?" AFTAH President Peter LaBarbera responded. "Isn't it just as inappropriate for a 'gay' male TSA agent to pat down male travelers as it is for a normal, heterosexual male TSA agent to pat down female travelers?
It doesn't seem like a complicated point: TSA patters-down are to be of the same-sex as the pattees-down so as to avoid the appearance of sexual inappropriateness, but such a system assumes, among other things, that the population and its actions are 100% heterosexual. That's not the case, so their gender segregated patting-down is inadequate.
It is possible for both travelers and TSA agents to be gay. They can also be bisexual. They can be straight with some tendencies and attractions to members of the same-sex. They can be closeted and may never come out. That can't be controlled, and it shouldn't be.
Because sexual orientation, to most people, doesn't really matter. Labarbera seems to be implying that an act isn't gay if straight people do it (just two bros helping each other out, nothing queer about that), but an overtly sexual act like genital touching is, to most people, an overtly sexual act. Newsweek has an article that addresses that indirectly, on how rape survivors are dealing with the new security measures:
For women and men who have already been sexually assaulted, the new screening rules--or just the threat of these rules--present a very real danger. They can be triggering events, setting off a posttraumatic-stress reaction. "I started crying. It was so intimate, so horrible. I feel like I was being raped," an anonymous rape survivor recounted on a Minnesota blog. Melissa Gibbs, a spokeswoman for We Won't Fly, a group protesting the new regulations, says that a rape survivor she spoke to had a panic attack as an agent began touching her leg.[...]
Passengers have the right to have an agent of the same gender perform the pat-down, but McEwan notes that any kind of unwanted touching can trigger an event. Moreover, men who are sexually assaulted are often the victims of other men--"but saying, 'Hey, I want a woman to do this' could lead to a whole other set of problems," Maltz says. Survivors and women's advocates also worry about the potential for bad actors, poor communication (as in Chase's case), and abuse of power will make an already bad procedure worse.
Erin Chase, a blogger who was subjected to one of these pat-downs, doesn't seem to care much about the gender or sexual orientation of the TSA agent:
I stood there, an American citizen, a mom traveling with a baby with special needs formula, sexually assaulted by a government official. I began shaking and felt completely violated, abused and assaulted by the TSA agent. I shook for several hours, and woke up the next day shaking.
Here is why I was sexually assaulted. She never told me the new body search policy. She never told me that she was going to touch my private parts. She never told me when or where she was going to touch me. She did not inform me that a private screening was available. She did not inform me of my rights that were a part of these new enhanced patdown procedures.
When I booked my ticket, I was given no information that the TSA had changed their wand and unintrusive patdown procedures to "enhanced" patdown procedures that involved the touching of all parts of your body, including breasts and vagina on women and testicles and penis on men. I was not informed by any signs on the front side of security about the new procedures. I had not seen any media coverage about the issue, so I had no idea that this was a new government sanctioned policy.
Same-sex pat-downs doesn't assure much of anything, or because even if a TSA agent is completely professional, the entire procedure is already invasive. Chase's account, why it felt like sexual assault to her, wasn't because the TSA agent was a lusty lesbian looking to cop a feel, but because she didn't properly inform the
victim passenger what was going to happen. That was one person's line in the sand, what about other people?
The point is it doesn't matter in a security state. People are being trained to give up their personal limits, what makes them different from one another to go through a machine that's getting more invasive and requiring more compliance to rules that simply don't work for everyone.
The result will be a population more willing to accept such invasions and follow such orders as we all get used to these new security measures. The procedures are likely here to stay, and we'll hear less and less about them as we come to accept them. As throwing away your drinks and taking of your shoes to go through a metal detector is being used in non-airport situations now, these measures will expand as well.
Whether it's someone of the same gender doing all these things is irrelevant if we're all supposed to act like machines without desire or reactions to intimate contact. All you have to do is eliminate a little bit of your humanity to get along. What could go wrong with such a system?