TSA Under Fire After Agent Shames Teen Girl: What His Hostility Says About the Cultural Attitude Towards Women

“TSA officers are trained and expected to perform screening methods in a dignified and respectful manner at all times. We work to make our screening procedures as minimally invasive as possible while providing the highest level of security for the traveling public.”

That’s what the Transportation Security Administration is saying in response to allegations that one of their agents humiliated a teenage girl during the pre-flight security check.

According to the Los Angeles Times , the girl, who turned out to be the daughter of Boing Boing founder Mark Frauenfelder, said that the TSA agent muttered something under his breath about her attire. When she said, "Excuse me?”, the agent hostilely responded, “You’re only 15. Cover yourself”.

So much for “dignified and respectful”, eh?

Needless to say, Daddy Frauenfelder is fuming. In an indignant post on his blog Sunday night, he said that the agent "humiliated and shamed" his daughter. Frauenfelder included a picture of his daughter's outfit in the post but says, “It doesn't matter what she was wearing, though, because it's none of his business to tell girls what they should or should not wear. His creepy thoughts are his own problem, and he shouldn't use his position of authority as an excuse to humiliate a girl and blame her for his sick attitude.”

The TSA has issued a statement of apology and assured that they are investigating the report. Phew! That's a relief. I would hate to think this sort of gross misogyny and aggression by a man in a position of power would go unchecked. Pause.

But seriously, look at this girl's outfit. Perhaps there's some validity to the TSA's gruff remarks.

<img alt="" src="http://media.boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/daughter-outfit.jpg" class="article-body-image" title="Image: http://media.boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/daughter-outfit.jpg"/>

Conservative at first glance? Look closer. Her tank top reveals at least a quarter-inch of midriff and just look at those sleeves! I mean, honestly, has she no shame? Who does she think she is flaunting her wrists like that? I'm sure this photograph is cropped as such to hide her scandalous bare ankles too.

Come on. I halfway expected this girl to be donning a hot pink sports bra and a jean thong (note: If she were, it still wouldn't matter) and I get Joey Potter from Dawson's Creek. Her attire is not what's offending here. It's the fact that the TSA agent felt that it was his place as a man to criticize her for how she chose to dress in public. Why?

Is he just stuck in the vacuum that is the 1930s? Was he attempting to guilt her for his own statutory thoughts, as Frauenfelder suggested? Or is it deeper? I think that his sentiments reflect something greater than his own piggishness. They are evocative of the culture of hostility towards women in this country. What's scarier than the systemic domination and objectification of our group by men? How young the oppression begins.

Image: Boing Boing