Upskirting Is Legal In Georgia And Most Of The Country. Welcome To America.
Did your mom always tell you to wear clean underwear (or any underwear at all) in case you get in an accident like mine did? I never understood that particular nugget of mom-advice, but now that upskirting is legal in Georgia, it seems very appropriate to tell everyone to cover up. Unless, you know, they’re into that sort of thing. Upskirting, or taking a picture under someone’s skirt without their consent, has been ruled legal in Georgia due to a technicality, because apparently a glitch in the legal system is more important that a woman’s privacy. Since there aren’t laws about upskirting, it can’t be illegal. Yes, really. It’s infuriating.
The precedent for this is a 2013 case in the state, when a Publix employee, Brandon Lee Gary, made a video of a customer. He was even on the store tapes doing it. But the Georgia Court of Appeals eventually threw the case out because the state doesn’t have a law forbidding people from using mobile devices to harass women.
And legislators can’t make any new laws until the General Assembly is back in session in six months. So, all fucking summer, men (and maybe some women) can legally take videos or pictures of your ass without consequences.
This whole, “no law” thing is actually pretty common, but one by one, many states have started to sign upskirting bills into law. Masschusetts, Ohio, Texas, New Jersey, and North Carolina all have upskirting laws on the books now, with fines up to $5,000 and some jail time, usually around two to three years. It’s fucking gross and a violation of a woman’s civil rights — motherfuckers should go to jail and see how much that stray ass cheek that wasn’t offered to them was really worth.
But a lot of states still have loopholes in their “Peeping Tom” laws. Usually, that’s because many public places aren’t protected, according to Holly Kearl, an adjunct professor of women’s studies at George Mason University in Virginia who has written books on sexual harassment.
“One of the biggest weakness with many voyeurism laws [in America] is that they don’t include public spaces as places that people have the right to privacy,” she told Vice. “Places like locker rooms or bathrooms are protected, but places like subways and parks often aren’t.” Or the laws haven’t kept up with the times, so video or iPhone pictures aren’t included and then the assholes get away with it. Congratulations, America.
There is a federal law, the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act of 2004, but that includes just federal property, which means federal employees are safe, or if you happen to be in a national park or museum. But that doesn’t help every day women on the subway or on an escalator at the mall or in a grocery store.
The problem is so prevalent that some countries have “women only” subway cars. Germany, Israel, Japan, India, Egypt, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates all have them, and if New York City had them, I would hop right the fuck on. Rhitu Chatterjee wrote for NPR that she loves riding them in India. “The body language of women in this car feels different,” she wrote. “They look carefree. Some listen to music on their headphones or read a book or newspaper, rarely looking up.” They don’t have to think about how maybe they should have worn a cardigan over their crop top for the commute or look suspiciously at that man across the way facing them, holding his phone in a position that doesn’t really look Candy Crush-compatible.
Being a woman in public means always being on guard — I can’t imagine what a public space with no men would feel like. It’s probably really liberating, even just for a minute.
For now though, American women-only subway cars seem like a pipe dream. Let’s just get some fucking laws on the books that say it’s not legal to take a picture up a woman’s skirt. Why is this even a discussion?