Upskirting

This story and accompanying video crossed my Facebook page late last week:

Gina Martin was at a festival when a man took a photograph up her skirt and shared it with his friends. When the police told her they could not do anything because upskirting was not a crime, she started a campaign. This is how a 26-year-old woman with no legal or political experience is trying to change the law.

The first thing that crossed my mind was that these festivals probably attract weirdos and sex pests who mark down lefty women with facial piercings, tattoos, or funny-coloured hair for special attention. Trying to change national law based on what went down at a festival is a bit like campaigning for restrictions on alcohol after a bad experience on a stag do in Prague. Now upskirting – the practice of taking a photo up a woman’s skirt without her permission – is an unpleasant thing to happen and I can see why women want it stopped, but there are a few points I’d like to make before we rush headlong into creating yet more laws.

Firstly, let’s not pretend this is something so traumatic it needs to be dealt with as matter of priority by the national government. I haven’t seen any upskirting pictures but I can’t imagine they show very much other than some blurry skin and what might be knickers. As the police mentioned in the video said, they’d show more than you’d them to show, but they’re hardly pornographic and you couldn’t identify anyone from them. When the woman in the video says “I had no rights over my own body at that point” she is engaging in laughable hyperbole which is all too common when talking about women’s rights in the modern era.

Indeed, this looks to me like a campaign by middle class British feminists to further their credentials as perpetual victims; there are fewer more middle class pursuits than attending festivals and complaining about the behaviour of the people they encounter. Another sign this is more about advancing the political aims of feminists than women’s rights is the immediate demand the national government makes new laws criminalising men. Never mind how they are to be enforced: how is upskirting to be defined exactly, and what is deemed admissible evidence? The woman in the video snatched the offender’s phone and ran off with it, which is usually described as theft. Existing laws cover the creation and distribution of pornographic content especially where minors are concerned, and there are already laws regarding voyeurism. But the people pushing this don’t care, they just want more laws with which to threaten men who might be behaving in ways they disapprove of. How long before some poor sap is arrested for taking a picture on the tube while sat opposite a radical feminist in a short skirt, or for taking an innocent photo beneath an escalator?

The other issue is that feminists are in many ways responsible for what’s going on here. In order to fend off Cathy Newman, I am not saying women deserve upskirting for wearing revealing clothing. Instead, I’m saying their relentless campaign to emasculate ordinary, decent men and insist traditional gender roles are obsolete relics of a bygone era has left them vulnerable to the inevitable weirdos that prowl any society. I’ve written about that recently:

From what I can tell the main beneficiaries of feminists’ efforts to remove traditional male roles from society, and the collapse of common-sense policing, are sex-pests who are free to operate without fear of either.

There was a time when peeping Toms and upskirters would have been swiftly dealt with by those in the immediate vicinity of the offence; basically, a couple of blokes would have given him a good kicking and sent him on his way, and if he persisted or targeted children he’d have got a lot worse. Indeed, this is pretty much how it works in places where men are generally still expected to behave as men. But modern women decided they were strong and independent and didn’t need a chaperone. Only actually they do, just nowadays the chaperone is the government. Notice the first thing the woman in the video did is run to a policeman: having decided men no longer have a role to play in society as protectors of women’s decency, modern women rush to find a policeman as soon as they’re subject to what they believe is an indecent act. How this is supposed to demonstrate progress is beyond me.

It’s also revealing when she says “the authorities that were meant to be there to support me, now weren’t”. Well, yeah – imagine how the girls in Rotherham felt. One would have thought British feminists concerned with women’s rights had learned a harsh lesson in not relying on the police and other authorities to protect them, but it appears they haven’t. Instead, having seen the authorities utterly abandon working class girls to be raped by gangs of men from an alien culture, they think things will be different for them, presumably because they’re nice upstanding middle class girls with Instagram accounts and home counties accents.

Despite the defeat of the upskirting bill thanks to a Tory MP who thought the opposition shouldn’t be making laws, this will likely be railroaded through the legislature by Theresa May; this sort of thing is right up her street. We’ll see much celebration from wealthy, middle class feminists which will drown out the ongoing and actual sexual abuse of women up and down the country, followed by some token prosecutions of hapless men who took a photo at the wrong time in the presence of some deranged harpy. Otherwise, things will carry on much as before and soon we’ll be hearing how the childlike faith women put in government was misplaced, decent men have largely abandoned them, and we need yet more laws.

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28 thoughts on “Upskirting

  1. “just nowadays the chaperone is the government”

    That’s the feature, not a bug. Inter-personal arbitration is a thing of the past; all modern disputes must be resolved by an authority figure. Hence all the calls for kangaroo courts in universities and in HR departments.

    I disagree with you however on the fundamental nature of up-skirting. These people aren’t peeping toms, they’re normal blokes who’ve had a couple of drinks and are awkwardly trying to flirt. Nobody takes an up-skirt photo for porn purposes – the internet more than suffices. Instead, like a wolf-whistler, the perpetrator wants the victim to know that she has been up-skirted, in order to get a reaction. She can ignore him, she can hurl abuse at him, or if she’s a bit drunk at a festival she can go “oh you like what you see?” and the flirting develops from there. Granted there’s maybe a one-in-ten chance of a favourable reaction, but that’s a good ratio at a festival.

    In this light, it’s a more recognisable pattern: middle-class girl is highly offended that working-class bloke made a pass at her; and this sort of thing should be outlawed forthwith. Guilt is defined not by the action itself, but by whether the woman fancies the bloke back.

  2. As you write, “upskirting” is already probably illegal under a million existing laws, including, I suspect, the all-purpose offence from (almost) time immemorial of “causing a breach of the peace”. This proposed law is a prime example of legislation as PR (cf banning the use of mobile phones while driving which is/was already illegal as “driving without due care and attention”). Showbiz legislation has landed us with the Climate Change Act and having to borrow on world markets to finance the dumping of 0.7 (?) per cent of our national income on third-world “aid”. Doubtless – as you also write – Theresa (laughably described as “conservative”) will proceed to make this a legislative priority: it’ll get through both Houses in 24 hours.

  3. Not so long ago, many men would have chivalrously intervened to stop such vulgarity as upskirting. Feminism denounces chivalrous behaviour as patronising and oppressive, so feminists want the state to step in…

  4. nowadays the chaperone is the government

    Also provider and alpha male sex fantasy. Aaron Clarey calls this “President Boyfriend”.

    Guilt is defined not by the action itself, but by whether the woman fancies the bloke back.

    One of the most useful things any young man can learn is that nothing you see in a rom-com works in real life. A woman has decided within five minutes of meeting you for the first time whether she will ever sleep with you. If the answer’s “yes”, you can still fuck it up; if the answer’s “no”, there’s nothing you can do to change that. And all the rom-com flirting and cutesy stuff happens after that. The arbiter of whether it works is whether she already fancied you before you opened your gob.

  5. C’mon, admit it, who thought Sajid Javid would be different from all the other Home Secs??

    Anyone? Bueller?

  6. It’s currently being successfully prosecuted as Outraging Public Decency. But then they state that not necessarily every instance is covered under existing law, without giving any specific example………

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-acts-to-make-upskirting-a-specific-offence

    I’ve almost finished the Secret Barrister’s book, and he/she lays some of the blame for the justice system being clogged to death on the Blair government’s creation of an average of one new criminal offence per day (increasing the number of people being prosecuted for things that weren’t crimes before), another lashing of blame goes on the increase in historic sex prosecutions driven by media and politicians, and the final chunk of blame goes on apparently rather substantial cuts to legal aid / court budgets.

    I forsee if upskirting is made a specific offence, some random bloke snapping a shot of his mate on the train where some beskirted lady, after possibly too many glasses of pink wine, is slouched in a seat legs akimbo, and is snapped in the background of a shot (intentionally or accidentally). This will, naturally, be reported by an onlooker.

  7. So apparently the issue is that the crime of ‘outraging public decency’ requires there to be at least two witnesses around to be outraged (a couple caught on camera having sex in a car park apparently got off (no pun intended) thanks to there not having been any actual people around at the time.

    And voyeurism is defined as ‘taking pictures of private acts’, which obviously catches undressing in a changing room or going to the toilet, but it’s a grey area whether it would cover taking a photograph of someone who is simply walking on the street — surely not a ‘private act’ — no matter what the angle of the photograph (provided they are wearing underwear, I guess, but if they’re not that’s a whole other issue).

    So some cases can end up falling between two stools: not public enough to be outraging public decency (because no witnesses) but too public to be voyeurism.

    The problem is obviously badly-drafted law: the statue which makes voyeurism a crime was clearly meant to cover things like this, but due to being badly drafted and insufficiently scrutinised (possibly because it was part of the tsunami of legislation passed by the Blair government at its peak, when so many laws were being passed that nobody could possibly check they all made sense, and also their landslide majority made sure that there was no point in debating them in the House as they would just pass anyway, however badly-written), it doesn’t.

    It could be dealt with by changing the CPS guidelines, but that then runs the risk of appeal-court judges applying the law as written which is, after all, what they are supposed to do. And encouraging judges to ignore the letter of a law because ‘it’s obviously meant’ to cover something is not a great precedent to set.

    The proper solution therefore is to amend the legislation to say what it should have said in the first place. But the proper way to do that is not ‘on the nod’ in a Private Member’s Bill, but as a proper government bill with proper debate — otherwise you run the risk of doing exactly the same thing, bringing in another badly-drafted law (you could quite easily, for example, accidentally make it illegal to take any picture of anybody that didn’t crop off everything below the waist) and ending up right back where you started.

  8. The law will have to define a skirt and its disposition.
    I foresee problems with tutus, swimming costumes with integrated skirts, rock and roll dancers etc.
    Marilyn Monroe’s air vent picture.
    And we cannot sexually discriminate.
    Viz the picture of the Queen with the kilted soldier.
    Oh lots of lovely money for lawyers.

  9. I find it hard to believe that upskirting is not an offence under some law or other. (I’m sure that if they really wanted to, they could get you for walking on the cracks in the pavement.) It sounds to me more like the British police being their usual selves: i.e., they can’t be arsed.

    But supposing it isn’t currently illegal, and some law to make upskirting an offence is passed. If it’s then enforced with the same vigour as the current law against female genital mutilation, I don’t think would-be upskirters will have much to fear.

  10. never mind lads, it’s all further proof of the physical and mental weakness and instability of females. As if any more proof were needed.

    They need help and protection, and it’s up to us to provide it, as it always has been.

  11. There was a time when peeping Toms and upskirters would have been swiftly dealt with by those in the immediate vicinity of the offence

    Quite. Somehow I can’t imagine this sort of thing being tolerated in places like Russia either.

  12. Were I to adopt a fetish (now there’s an idea for a national day of celebration and events, much like say Comic Relief day) it’s pretty unlikely to be upskirting.

    Okay, when I was twelve and girls wore flared petticoats and stockings and the entry door to the school canteen block had iron grill stairs and some boys would be tempted to hide underneath and look up to see what they had as yet no experience of I can see the temporary appeal.*

    But taking pictures in a non-stocking era? C’mon, guys…

    *I am reminded of a bit in Jim Bouton’s very good book ‘Ball Four’ about the behaviour of baseball players at a triple A club who would run round under the bleachers to get the chance to look up women’s skirts as they stood for the national anthem. But, that was baseball in the ‘sixties, so there’s that.

  13. It’s definitely creepy as hell but I highly doubt the heavy, functionally retarded hand of the state is equipped to deal with the problem effectively. As others have said it’s preferable to have the heavy, functionally retarded hands of thirsty men handle the issue, with assault prosecution possible if the “chaperones” get out of control.

    Though I think it’s likely already illegal behavior. This is like men demanding exes slashing tires be made illegal.

  14. Somehow I can’t imagine this sort of thing being tolerated in places like Russia either.

    I know a number of young women (viz. too young to have lived behind the Iron Curtain) who have visited family in the Old Country and come back quite traumatized by the fact that aggressive, borderline-violent groping in public is apparently pretty common.

  15. The folk most impacted by an anti-upskirting law would be paparazzi photographers.
    They’d be risking a jail term every time they photographed a mini-skirt clad celebrity exiting a limousine.

    What’s next? A law against bra visibility in a photo?

  16. There must be thousands of laws that apply already. Copyright infringement? An easy bust. Attempting to set light to His Majesty’s dockyard? A bit harder to prove.
    We don’t need more laws, we want decent enforcement of existing laws, e.g. re burglary, mugging, etc.

  17. I wondered what those telescopic sticks you attach phones to were for. Now I know. But there must be a lot of this upskirting going on. They sell’em in nearly every phone shop.

  18. Though I think it’s likely already illegal behavior

    As mentioned: it’s supposed to be, but the law making it so was badly drafted by the ‘never mind the quality, feel the width of the statute books’ Blair government, such that it’s quite easy to get off on a technicality (you there at the back, don’t think I can’t hear you).

    The right thing to do is simply to correct the law using an amendment bill. The wrong way to do this, given it has government support, is as a Private Member’s Bill.

  19. I know a number of young women (viz. too young to have lived behind the Iron Curtain) who have visited family in the Old Country and come back quite traumatized by the fact that aggressive, borderline-violent groping in public is apparently pretty common

    Much of the trauma presumably being the discovery that the UK is not the most evil sexist mysoginist ist country in the world, after all.

  20. …the police told her they could not do anything because upskirting was not a crime…

    I don’t believe any part of that for a goshdarn second

  21. This bloke was convicted of doing it

    Note that all the offences for which he seems to have been convicted either

    (a) happened with witnesses present, eg, on a crowded train, so would fall under outraging public decency; or

    (b) happened in private (eg, the woman he filmed during a private meeting).

    So none of that disproves the point that there are instances of behaviour which is meant to be criminal, but which would not be under existing laws; for example, if he had used the camera-pen to film up a woman’s skirt on a train carriage in which he and she were the only passengers, that would not be illegal (it wouldn’t be outraging public decency because there were no witnesses, and it wouldn’t be voyeurism because sitting in a train carriage isn’t a private act).

  22. Even without any new statute law, surely already covered by lewd behaviour (criminal offence under common law). There’s also a civil law remedy of bringing an action for tort by outrage. Pity the poor lawyers & bureaucrats who try to explain that to the Minister, though…

  23. surely already covered by lewd behaviour (criminal offence under common law).

    Do you mean the common-law offence of outraging public decency? As repeatedly pointed out above, that only applies where there are witnesses (you can’t outrage public decency if there are no members of the public around to be outraged; you can legally be as lewd as you like, as long as there’s nobody around to see).

    So taking pictures up a woman’s skirt with a concealed camera in a train carriage in which only the pervert and the woman were present wouldn’t be prosecutable as outraging public decency.

    There’s also a civil law remedy of bringing an action for tort by outrage

    Several problems with that: the most obvious being that if it were to fail, the plaintiff would be liable for the defendant’s costs. This seems an unreasonable burden to place on a victim and a significant deterrent to bringing cases for behaviour which we all agree ought to be prosecuted.

    Also the fact that British courts (unlike, say, those in the wild and uncivilised colonies) generally don’t like to give huge awards of damages for nebulous things like ’emotional distress’, and certainly don’t go in for things like ‘punitive damages’. So the actual punishment would likely be rather low.

  24. Somehow I can’t imagine this sort of thing being tolerated in places like Russia either.

    It would and it wouldn’t. In places where low-grade scumbags congregate women are likely to get groped or worse, but only once the scumbags in question have made sure the woman is unprotected – either because she’s on her own, or he own social standing will make it unlikely anyone will intervene on her behalf.

    It’s unlikely middle class Russian blokes attending a festival would engage in something like upskirting because it’s likely seen as a bit cowardly. They’re more likely to chat them up and tease them verbally than resort to that or groping. In addition, any middle class Russian woman is likely to be at a festival with friends (both male and female); I find it interesting that the woman in the story appeared to have been alone. Where were her friends? In Russia, a middle class woman being harassed would stand a good chance that blokes nearby would intervene on her behalf, and if she was with a boyfriend or male friends things would probably get ugly.

    In other words, whilst harassment is rife in Russia, women do have some protection in the form of decent men willing to intervene and a degree of social class meaning such harassment is generally only found among scumbags. In Britain, it appears harassment is carried out by the peers of a middle class woman and she cannot rely on any others standing up for her. What you’d never see is Russian women relying on nearby policemen to protect them from somebody upskirting, or even copping a feel.

    There are likely several factors to explain the differences, but one is almost certainly that Russian men have not had their position in society subject to decades-long assault by radical feminists.

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