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Old Aug 6, 12, 8:04 am   #7
Mats
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Washington, USA (the one on the upper left, not DC)
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My best wishes to you and to your wife as she works to recover.

The CDC estimates that 1.3 million women were raped and 12.6 million men and women were victims of sexual assault in 2010. These numbers are estimates since not every assault is reported.

Roughly 2 million people fly every day in the United States. If one draws a Venn diagram, it's easy to see that those who have been raped and assaulted are going to pass through TSA checkpoints.

Due to institutionalized paranoia, political motivation, and mismanagement, the TSA continues its own institutionalized assault. It starts with the "barking," then it can be the "unwanted gaze" of viewing your body naked, a surprise frisk even though you have not set off a metal detector alarm, a naked scan and a surprise frisk, and often an inappropriate and unnecessarily rough and detailed frisking. Above all, this happens in view of the public, and it can happen again at the gate, where one can be humiliated and pulled out of line to be frisked in public (with threats that a "private screening" would lead to missing the flight.)

We've all seen quotes from passengers and crew: "they treated my like a criminal." Survivors of sexual assault have spoken up. But their voices are unheard. The TSA is just here to keep us safe. Keep us safe by irradiating us, stealing our belongings, and committing government-sanctioned sexual assault.

A psychologist colleague and I often talk about how the checkpoints inadvertently use language and symbols of the Holocaust. Terms like "Selectee" and "special" are euphemisms. One cannot ignore the image of a person standing in front of a massive group of travelers "selecting" which line to which they will be assigned. Please don't misconstrue this for me to say that TSA staff are connected to genocide; they're just inadvertently making references that strike fear into us.

Oddly, a psychiatrist just went on a rant about how he didn't mind being pulled out of line to be frisked because it "kept him safe." I rolled my eyes at his insensitivity.

If your wife is willing to talk about her experience, I don't suggest an "op ed" or news interview. It will just end up with a lot of reader comments about how the TSA is keeping us safe and "anything for security." The TSA will just respond that they have new technology that is less humiliating or PreCheck (which can only be used on rare occasions.)

If you are your wife are willing to come forward, talk to your Congressional representative or Senator. I mean that you should ask for a meeting--even by phone. A letter won't do it. Then contact your other Senator. If you're looking for a more powerful lobby, you could try the ACLU, but you may have more luck with ProPublica (they've already taken on the scanners, so they might be more interested.)

Speaking out is one way to overcome pain and to help others. I am saddened to think of how many other women (and men) who fly every day confront their past in silence.
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