I just experienced my first TSA enhanced pat down.
I opted out of the full body scan I was selected for. There are many reasons for this. I am trying to conceive, I’m not taking any risks in a machine not tested to my satisfaction that emits rays pregnant women are told to avoid. I think the use of this technology is wrong and invasive while only offering the illusion of security, and this is my only way to protest. A myriad of reasons exist, but that’s not the point.
The agent was polite and professional. She explained what she was going to do, and did it detachedly. It was about as ideal a pat down as one can expect.
And I still walked away fighting back tears, humiliated and violated.
If ANYONE other than my husband touched me in the way I was just touched outside an airport, it would be considered assault. And while this was dispassionate, there are so many ways the process is made violating in ways it wouldn’t be if someone grabbed me on a train.
First, you are forced to comply under your own will. Psychologically, this makes the impact so much more. I was told how to stand, and I spread my own legs so someone could put her hands on my genitals. Outwardly, it looks nicer to not have an agent force your legs open. Mentally, it is incredibly shaming.
Second, you can offer no resistance. If someone grabbed me on a train I would scream, slap them, and probably swear at them. Here, I couldn’t even comment to my hubby about how I felt. I was expected to be polite to the woman assaulting me. No barbed comments. No ability to try to remove myself.For the crime of wanting to travel, I had to submit to physical assault with a smile and a polite word.
I am flying out of Maryland, which I never will again until these laws are changed, because that led to a third way for me to feel violated. Maryland disallows any video recording in security. My husband and I had agreed when the new laws came out we would record each other’s pat downs on our phones. In part it offers a greater assurance we will be given a “reasonable” pat down, in part it’s just a minor show of defiance, the only one really possible. But Maryland took even that away.
Nothing catastrophic happened. Many would say to just suck it up. But I don’t think that’s fair. It IS a big deal mentally to force you to allow something to take place. It is the difference between standing and watching some one being beaten, and being held back from helping. It matters. It hurts. It engenders shame. And it adds no security.
There is no justification for such a physical and mental violation as part of routine screening. It is wrong. Period.