Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Creeps and Cameras

Let us take a break from the chaos and confusion of Canadian politics to shift gears to..


Ahh, “upskirting”. Which for the uninitiated, is when someone (typically a dude) uses a cellphone camera (or real camera, if they can manage) to take a picture up a womyn’s skirt/dress. Upskirting has become an umbrella term for also taking pictures down someone’s shirt, or just a general picture of their body in a sexual way.

The “key” to quality upskirting is going unnoticed, so these creeps pretend to send a text message or even just keep the thing hidden and snap away while you’re walking up the stairs, sitting on the bus, bending down in a store, etc.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Especially when they post it online for the world to see. Put “upskirt” into Google and you’ll see what I mean. Entire sites dedicated to the stuff.

A recent article in Salon magazine outlines the legal ramifications in the US of A and how the laws, like the pictures themselves, aren’t very clear.

Most places have laws allowing anyone to take a picture of anyone “in public space or domain”. But like the article says, its one thing to take an artistic photo of pedestrians crossing a bridge and it’s another to take a grainy photo of someone’s ass.

Upskirting is a HUGE problem. I know people who do it. I’ve seen people do it and I can guarantee that someone’s done it to me. But how will I ever know? There are millions and millions of these pictures online and I don’t have time to go through them all. And besides, how will I even know if it’s me? And then when I find the pictures, then what?

There are little to no legal ramifications for this type of thing in Canada.

My issue about upskirting goes beyond that, though. Upskirting is like construction-worker-harassment to a whole ‘nother level. When I’m walking down the street and some asshat yells something at me or honks, I see them, I flip them off and I get pissed off.

But in today’s world, womyn are walking around and being monitored 24/7. And often times, have no idea. Foucault is rolling in his damn grave.

The fact that this exists and is such a huge phenomenon is reason number 81789032 for why I’m a feminist. If you needed any more proof that womyn are objectified and commodified, then you’ve got it, Buster.

I’m not saying that dudes don’t experience street harassment or that someone isn’t taking pictures of their asses either. Hey, I’m sure it happens. But the numbers don’t even compare. And so it’s about more than just the fact that North American womyn wear skirts/dresses and men typically don’t. It’s about the fact that time and time again, womyn are viewed as ready for the taking and that if they don't like it, they have to do something about it.

So what do we do? Do we call a moratorium on dresses in the summer? Ban cellphone cameras? As the Salon article outlines, upskirting is such a problem in Asia that all new cellphones have a loud and distinct shutter noise that goes off with each click, to alert people that a picture has been taken. Should this be mandatory for all new phones?

Will anything really solve the problem? I’m sure there are things that can be done but until womyn are seen as human beings with all the rights and responsibilities allocated to you know… human beings, I don't think a whole lot is going to change.

UPDATE: Thanks to MH for the heads-up about this case. It's mentioned in the Salon article above but this article lists the details. I'm giving a major trigger warning to any readers of this article.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Many, if not all companies in North America, I thought had the shutter noise engage when a picture was taken, with no way to turn off the sound, but regardless, it's so easy to get around that...

Try taking a picture and just covering the speaker with a finger... The sound is basically unheard, especially in a busier, noisier place.

Even easier is simply unlocking the phone. When phones are sent out by companies (Motorola, Sony, LG...) and sold to retailers (Rogers, Bell, Telus...), they are "locked and branded" to that phone company so their logos are embedded in the phone's memory, and their specs are set to a level where it's convenient for them.

Here's an example. I had a Sony phone for a while. I wasn't satisfied with many of the settings on it and found out Rogers actually restricted that phone so I had to buy their ringtunes, buy a special memory card to upgrade the phone's memory, couldn't even have the ringer AND the vibration setting on simultaneously, etc... This was the first phone I had unlocked.

Turns out by unlocking and debranding the phone, it left me with having to change a few settings to set it to the Rogers network (just internet settings and voicemail settings), and tada, all of a sudden, my phone's memory more than doubled in sized, I can have the ringer and vibration feature on at the same time, I can upload my own sound clips from my computer to make a ringtune, I could upload MP3's without adding a memory card, and I can change literally any and every setting on the phone.

Since then, I've gone through SOOOO many phones... got a few stolen, some were left in the rain, others fell overboard in a lake and one was lost in BC on a 5600 foot tall mountain in Revelstoke. They've all been unlocked and debranded so I can access features Rogers generally restricts. You can either have it done at a private dealer for $20 or so or just download the software online and do it yourself. What I do is download the software specific to the phone for about $40, and resell it a few times on eBay for $10 a pop and make my money back.

Anyway, having all this said, what I was getting to was by unlocking the phone, one of the features you can usually access is the shutter noise. Once unlocked and debranded, there are usually different noises you can use, such as animal noises, different styles of shutter sounds, or you can upload your own, where I had loaded up the sound of a hockey player doing a slapshot.