Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wear Your Bathing Suit Through Security The Next Time You Travel

Yesterday we all learned that Chicago O'Hare Airport will be implementing the full-body scanners. If we won't go through the full-body scanner, we will be subjected to a pat-down, instead. Those are our only options. If I have to choose between going through a full-body scanner or be subjected to a pat-down, I say neither!

Maybe it's because I was sexually assaulted when I was 18, but there is no way in hell I am going to allow a TSA staffer to look at my naked body or feel me up to get on a plane. If anyone one else out there feels the same way as I do, please join my Facebook group; Wear Your Bathing Suit Through Security the Next Time You Fly.

According to this article, a representative for a company that sells the scanners admits that the machines "show intimate piercings, catheters and the form of breasts and penises". While there have been reports that the genitals will be blurred out, a woman's breasts won't. So, the TSA staffers will get a boob show at least, the Full Monty at most. This is not acceptable, and I will not be subjected to a pat-down every time I fly, either.

The last time I had to have a pat-down I felt molested. This was when they basically felt up a woman to determine we weren't hiding anything in our bras. The TSA agent tried to do it in a non touchy way by using the back of her hand, etc., but still... This is a no-win for travelers and a big win for the scanner manufacturers. I doubt it will mean anything to terrorists.

Also, there is still some uncertainty as to how dangerous the machines are, because a scan with microwaves used one type of scanner corresponds to 10,000 mobile phone conversations. The scatter x-ray technology used on another scanner, which I believe will be used in Chicago will dose us low radiation, equal to what we are exposed to in flight, so it is like we are flying twice. For frequent flyer's like myself and other business travelers, the jury is still out on what this does to us.

So, what am I going to do the next time I fly out of Chicago? Well, maybe I should just go through Midway instead. That would be the easier way out. But if I can get a cheaper flight out of O'Hare, then I don't think I should have to pay a financial penalty to protect my privacy. Also, full body scanners will be used everywhere, eventually, so I'll have to face this at some point in time. Besides, I think it is obscene and that is the point I want to make.

Have we really gone this far? Have we failed diplomatically to the point of no return where we subjugate innocent men, women and children to displaying their naked bodies to strangers in order to get on a plane? Is this what we are protecting our freedom for? If so, I am deeply saddened and embarrassed for the world we live in. I know this will bring some "well, if you can't handle it, move" or, "if this will prevent another 9-11, then I'm all for it" comments. I refuse to accept either position.

To the first, I say that I want to stand my ground for personal privacy and the tyranny of failed government policies. If the Bush administration hadn't taken the shoot first, ask questions later approach after 9-11, we could have possibly avoided war altogether. Instead, Bush created a never-ending war against terrorism, which should not be fought with guns and ammunition, but with diplomacy. Why should I have to abandon my country because our former administration made things worse, not better? And why is the Obama Administration continuing Bush's failed policies? I need to stick around to change things, not run away.

I am also angry that the Obama Administration is believing the fallacy that these scanners will really be effective. There is no way to guarantee that this will prevent another 9-11. There is also reason to believe that these full-body scanners would not have detected what was in the Underwear Bomber's drawers. So, what's next? Will we be strip-searched and forced to bend over to prove we don't have anything stuck up our bum? I won't wait for that.

Therefore, the next time I fly out of Chicago I will take a stand for myself and for everyone else who feels as uneasy about all of this as I do. I will fly out of O'Hare, but I will wear a one-piece bathing suit underneath my suit jacket and pants. I have to take the jacket off anyway, so all I have to do is let my pants drop quickly and I will be in my swim suit. Then, I will respectfully request that I be allowed to pass to my gate without being scanned or patted down as there will be no need. There will be nothing the TSA agents can't see with the naked eye that a scanner or a pat-down would find.

I swam competitively for many years when I was a kid, and I worked at a YMCA when my children were in school, teaching swimming. While my body isn't very toned anymore and I have a few fat rolls I can't seem to get rid of, I'm used to walking around in my bathing suit. It will cover me in a way in which I will I feel comfortable but will obviously show that I am not hiding anything. If security doesn't let me through, then I will let them throw me out. I won't make a scene, but I will make a statement. I choose neither.

I started a group on Facebook called; Wear Your Bathing Suit Through Security the Next Time You Fly. I have 16 members so far. Please join me and spread the word.


  1. Joined! Excellent post Ilene. Thank you for the dialog today. It was definitely healing - so that makes you kind of important to me now:D

  2. Thanks and Great!

    And you are now important to me too...I was telling my husband about you. Too bad you live all the way on the other side of the country. I assume you still live in CA. I never did go to therapy for this, so maybe we can be our own support group.

    Click on my name and read the story I wrote about my attack.

    I do have a couple of funny stories in there about my kids - the earliest post will tell you how I named the blog. However, you will see it is primarily reserved for posts about my brother.

    I'll be in touch with updates on my travels to Chicago