Like many, I find the new security procedures instituted by the Transportation Security Administration to be abominable. I honestly don’t know how I’d deal with the invasive and potentially embarrassing x-ray, or the incredibly aggressive pat-down.
But when it comes to the new policies, there is one thing of which I am certain. They’ve generated a lot of anger and frustration from word go. And recently they’ve generated something else: a damning accusation of sexual assault.
A mom-blogger named Erin didn’t mince words when she blogged about her recent experience with the new security checks. She claims she was sexually assaulted in front of her daughter when a TSA agent touched her private parts without obtaining Erin’s consent. This alleged assault took place in broad daylight before countless witnesses while the agent was conducing the very search required of her vocation.
Sierra, who is an assault survivor, agrees that Erin was sexually assaulted. I don’t. But before I continue, let me make a few things clear. As I previously stated, I, like many, find the new security procedures instituted by the Transportation Security Administration to be abominable. I also think that the TSA agent’s failure to announce that the search called for the agent to touch Erin’s private parts is significant and warrants the agent’s immediate termination. Still, I think what took place, at least as Erin describes it, was an inept execution of a highly controversial government policy. Not a sexual assault.
I want to make it clear that I take sexual assault very seriously. I respect Sierra’s opinion and am genuinely sorry that she’s experienced such a nightmare. Still, I respectfully disagree with her when it comes to this case. And, as Sierra points out in her post, so does Sarah Oriel, who, like Sierra, has experienced a sexual assault.
Sarah, who blogs for BlogHer, believes that equating an invasive search that was improperly executed to sexual assault is belittling to those who have endured sexual crimes. Sierra disagrees and makes the following point: “I’m not about to tell any woman who feels traumatized by an unwanted touch that her trauma was somehow less ‘real’ than mine.”
What hasn’t been mentioned is that being accused of sexual molestation isn’t exactly a teensie little deal. It’s a life changer. I don’t think it’s a great idea to allow people to toss the phrase around when we’ve only heard one side of this story.
See, in protecting the rights of women like Erin, who perceive themselves as victims of a sex crime, we’re irresponsibly blowing off the other person involved, as if the accused have no rights in the matter. And that’s wrong. In fact, that’s part of the reason why laws exist. To protect both parties. And I’m sorry, but a woman incorrectly conducting a government-sanctioned body-pat for (what was likely) the 100th time that day? It’s just doesn’t sound like a sex crime.
You know what is a crime, though? The government-sanctioned screens themselves! They have everybody up in arms, and rightfully so. But let’s not pass the buck on to the poor people whose job description suddenly changed overnight to that of a groper. The real people we should be mad at are the creators of these policies. Not the federal employees required to carry them out.
I can’t keep Erin from saying — or feeling — that she was sexually assaulted. But the perpetrator isn’t the inept woman who frisked her. It’s Uncle Sam.
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