Giving the TSA an Eyeful

There’s recently been quite a media brouhaha about the new TSA rules imposing random full-body-x-ray scans at the airport, with alternative groping procedures for those who opt not to be x-rayed. I agree it’s invasive and there’s a lot of potential for abuse by the TSA, but I’m not really getting why it’s suddenly in the news like it’s brand new.

In the last year I’ve taken eight flights, and I’ve had to go through the naked x-rayer about half the time. I wasn’t offered a choice of being groped as an alternative, either: it was get scanned or don’t get on your flight.

Although to be honest it didn’t occur to me that I could say no. When I’m flying I’m usually pretty focused on making it to my destination, and accustomed to putting up with TSA nonsense: take stuff out of your pockets, take off your coat, take your laptop out, drink all your water, take off your shoes, take off your jewelry, take off your belt, no hand lotion allowed, do not touch the sides of the metal detector, do not go too fast through the metal detector, do not go too slowly through the metal detector, stand here while we swipe this dryer sheet over your things to check for explosives residue…

Adding a ‘stand here and pose while we take naked pictures of you, la la la’ step was just one more inconvenience.

My biggest worries during the screening process are usually a) it’s taking forever to get myself and my belongings suitably stripped and deconstructed for x-ray and I’m holding up the immense line of passengers behind me, with a corollary a1) aaaah, don’t drop my laptop! followed by b) I’m gonna miss my flight because of all the time it’s taking to get re-dressed, re-shod, and my carry-on repacked now that I’ve finally gone through the scanners. (And on one memorable flight c) no, that’s not c-4, that’s a big slab of peanut-free gourmet chocolate for a friend who’s allergic! Geez do you really have to open it?)

So yes, airport screening is invasive and annoying, and the naked x-raying is a new twist. But how is it that this is suddenly becoming news, if it’s been going on for almost a year?

The whole random selection thing, too, which some people are claiming isn’t random at all. Friends, I can almost guarantee you I wasn’t selected for the naked scanning because anyone behind the controls wanted a good look at my fat rolls. Frankly, if some TSA screener wants to wank to a ghostly blue image of my potato-shaped comeliness, well… Yeah there’s probably something wrong with them.

I figured I was selected either at random, as stated, or because my blue hair makes me look extra Talibanish. Or maybe it was curiosity about whether I was packing (and I don’t mean a gun.) And okay, I see the point about how yeah, the whole, let’s expose you to ionizing radiation game isn’t awesome, and the groping is bad and potentially triggering to abuse survivors, and the TSA screening procedures aren’t where we’re gonna stop the terrorists anyway so the whole thing is kind of a farce but…

But I still think it’s weird that no one bitched about it until this month, when last January I was standing in a little glass-walled x-rayer in DFW trying not to imagine the TSA people mocking my boxers.

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~ by Nezu on 20 November 2010.

2 Responses to “Giving the TSA an Eyeful”

  1. One of the sites I’ve read gave an interesting thought about this: all these years of women and minorities complaining about the TSA, starting literally immediately after 9/11, but it isn’t until a white, middle-aged male complains that this stuff finally hits the mainstream media…? Hmmmmm.

  2. (WordPress seems to have mucked up the code for replying to a comment – it fails in both Firefox and Chrome)

    Reply to Zuul – Ooh good point. Deeply ingrained cultural bias and white male privilege win again? *sigh* I wonder if it will actually result in any changes, though.

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