CNN Contributor Angela Rye posted a video of the deceiving innocuous-sounding TSA pat down at a U.S. airport. Rye is asked to stand with her arms raised, and she does.
And then the screening drags on, lasting for several long, cringe-worthy moments as the officer gets increasingly invasive. Rye nods disapprovingly as the officer continues her work. The officer prods Rye's genital area, sweeping her hands around it. At this point, Rye visibly gives a start, and then steels herself, gritting her teeth.
The video ends with Rye shaken and in tears.
Rye had walked through the TSA's full body scanner once before. On Twitter, she recounted her horrifying ordeal.
1. Metal detector and AIT (same thing). The AIT is what flagged my vag. I repeatedly refused a vaginal pat down. So they called police. https://t.co/fFtjbXW9H4— Angela Rye! (@angela_rye) December 16, 2016
Rye made the courageous choice of being patted in public. This may come across as an unconventional choice, but it was the smart one at that time. Rye was in a vulnerable position, and she did not want to be left alone with security officers who have no idea how to respect bodies.
I demanded a pat down in public. I didn't want my vagina patted down in a back room anymore than in public. https://t.co/Cf52U8fuqn— Angela Rye! (@angela_rye) December 16, 2016
I asked them to do this in public. I wouldn't have felt safer or less violated in "private". https://t.co/vCB0naXCUi— Angela Rye! (@angela_rye) December 16, 2016
But then again, as is the case when women show the world a glimpse of the way their sense of self was eroded at, there were people who did not know how this was a big deal. To them, Rye had the perfect answer.
I got my vagina patted AND A HAND right between my vagina. The problem is you have ZERO idea about what's appropriate, jackass. https://t.co/aUZ3iPQswh— Angela Rye! (@angela_rye) December 16, 2016
Rye also described the incident in a short video she uploaded on Twitter, and made a very, very important point.
So, apparently TSA follows a p-grabbing Trump model...?? https://t.co/L2um8XaKbt— Angela Rye! (@angela_rye) December 16, 2016
We may have become desensitized to sexual harassment, but this seemingly inconsequential invasion of bodily privacy jolts us, tells us just how traumatic, emotionally scarring it is to have hands reach down in places they do not belong. It tells us that, even in a public place, women can very easily be rendered powerless, have their agency taken from them. And that is a terrible idea to live with.