There’s nothing like the threat of a good crotch groping to galvanize our nation’s men into action against sexual assault. What began with the T-shirt-worthy battle cry “If you touch my junk, I will have you arrested” has since escalated into a full-on war.
Salon detailed the skirmish over whether sexual preference matters during a pat-down, while The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg railed against privacy violations (and the general inefficacy of the TSA as a whole). Hell, even humor writer Dave Barry threw his hat in the ring, lamenting his “blurry groin” in an NPR interview.
In short, guys are angry. And for the most part, rightly so. Being subjected to this kind of manhandling—pun unashamedly intended—is a flat-out violation no matter how you twist, fondle, or grope it.
But the question isn’t whether this is something worth talking about. The question is why it took this long for men to take notice.
Mother Jones writes:
It’s great to see these men taking a stand against what some have deemed TSA-sanctioned sexual assault, but I have to wonder why their indignation was so long in the making. It’s taken so long for people to catch on to how invasive the searches are. For years, women have complained about agents copping a feel: In 2004, when the TSA first experimented with gropey pat-downs, hundreds of women were complaining.
Now that a bunch of guys are crying foul, the media is suddenly all over it. Tyner’s story went viral, but what about the stories of women—and children—who’ve stayed relatively quiet?
It’s true, sexual violations against women have been piling up for the better part of a decade. There was the Amarillo woman who sought legal action after her blouse was pulled down, exposing her breasts during a pat down. (The TSA agents were reported to have laughed the incident off, in spite of her visible tears.) Then there was the rape survivor in Minnesota who was subjected to a graphic “cupping and squeezing” by a male screener, leading to an emotional breakdown.
Dozens of stories are coming up now, but only after a white guy screamed pseudo-rape. Why didn’t either of these stories above go viral?
The answer to these questions is best illustrated by this Washington Times op-ed piece, charmingly titled “Obama’s Hand in Your Crotch”:
The Transportation Security Administration’s demeaning new “enhanced pat-down” procedures are a direct result of the Obama administration’s willful blindness to the threat from Islamic radicals. While better tools are available to keep air travelers safe, they would involve recognizing the threat for what it is, which is something the White House will never do.
The story goes on to bring up valid points about the TSA implementing “methods that would under other circumstances constitute sexual assault,” to (ineffectively) curb terrorist attacks.
But the brunt of the argument seems to be—as TBD writer Amanda Hess astutely points out—that “the TSA is willing to apply these ‘demeaning’ security measures to white people.”
Instead of focusing “on the more probable threats with minimal intrusion on those who are likely not terrorists, all passengers have to pay the price by having their privacy (and their privates) invaded,” the Washington Times writes.
That sounds to me like a roundabout way of saying this: We’re clearly privileged, so why are we being treated like we’re not?
Of course, it’s no news that white men live charmed lives. And I do appreciate that it’s finally dawning on men that this shit sucks. Mike Riggs admitted in an interview:
I have been doing some soul-searching re my anxiety about having my dick measured by a TSA x-ray machine. And I realized, women go through this every day. Maybe not the x-ray part, but men are always undressing ladies with their eyes. Now I have to go through a few times a year what women go through every day, and suddenly, I am feeling much more feminist and so, so, so angry.”