So, Brie Larson thinks she was sexually harassed by a TSA officer who asked for her phone number after she smiled at him. Kira Davis, replying to Ms. Larson’s outrage, expertly satirized what a horrible chore it is to be a good-looking woman in the US these days. I’d like to share with Ms. Larson an actual story of sexual harassment by the TSA, both verbal and physical.
Last week I traveled to the Phoenix area with some other RedState, Townhall, and Hot Air writers (as seen in this photo and the featured photo for this story. Yes, I’m pimping us).
When I left from Phoenix, I lucked into the agent I’ve now dubbed Angry Paul Blart (APB). As I stepped into the body scanner and assumed the position (as I’ve done a million times), APB tells me how I’m supposed to stand, though I’m already in the position. Clearly, as a female wearing high heels I needed his patriarchal instruction.
Then he says “Don’t move for 3 seconds” and, as I was not moving, he starts to yell “hold still.” Naturally, I flinched – and the 3 seconds wasn’t yet up. So then he yells, “I told you not to move,” and I replied, “I wasn’t… until you yelled.” Such disrespect is not tolerated well by APB, who yells back, “Well, you should listen.”
I ask them to just do it again. “We can’t do it again. You should have listened.” As I exit the scanner I’m informed by the female officer that SIX areas lit up on the scanner so she has to physically check all of those areas – including all of my sensitive areas. She asks if I want to be felt up right there or privately. Since I’ve already been shamed by APB and just want to get on with my travels, I tell her to go ahead and feel me up there.
She does, as I look to the side with a resigned Tina Fey eyeroll look on my face.
As I am wearing skinny jeans and tank top, it’s easy to tell I’m not concealing anything between my clothing and my skin, but whatever. APB is still telling me that I should have listened, so I start explaining to him that when one is already complying with his instructions, it’s confusing and startling for him to pipe up and yell at them to do what they’re already doing. I can’t get through a sentence without interruption and denial from APB. Why does he hate women?
After the groping, they swipe my hands to test for explosives – and inform me that I have set off the alarms. Whut?
APB is still standing there scowling at me.
The female agent grabs my belongings off the conveyor belt gets a male agent to start going through them and testing them as she does the second, more intensive (!), groping.
While I’m being groped the nice male TSA agent and I start football bonding (yes, I can multi-task because I’m a woman) after he finds my Panthers jersey in my bag (thank you, Becca!) and the he asks how I ended up over there. As I’m quietly telling him what happened at the scanner, Angry Paul Blart hears and was none too happy about it – and also because the rest of the agents like me more than they like him (of course).
So he saunters (waddles) over there and says, “Someday you’ll listen to people. You should listen to directions.”
Would he have said that to a man? I highly doubt it. Yet, no one stopped him.
I reply, “All I’m saying is it’s confusing when someone is already doing what they’re supposed to and you loudly tell them to do what they’re already doing.” APB is undeterred. “You can plead your case all you want, lady.”
By then I’ve had it. (Oh, and by then they’ve come back and said that my second, more “sensitive,” explosives test has come back positive so they need to take me in the back room and REALLY give me a full-body check. And she’s finding another lady to “witness.”)
Plead my case? Have I been arrested for insurrection? I say to APB, who was the C butting into an A and B conversation: “I wasn’t talking to you. And by the way, I am allowed to disagree with you and believe that the way you give your instructions are confusing.”
Nice Football Fan TSA Guy, whose back is to Angry Paul Blart, stifles a giggle. Angry Paul Blart harrumphs and shuffles back to his station.
I’m then led behind the frosted glass for my third feel-up, which I’m told will be more invasive. At this point I’m wondering if that means a cavity search? Or bare hand inside my skinny jeans? I’m wondering, Ms. Larson, if you ever had THAT kind of fear in your horrific interaction with the TSA agent?
No alarm went off that time, though we had to wait three minutes for TSA Supervisor Lady to get off the phone to give me a thumbs up so I could put my heels back on and do the walk of shame to my gate. I held off on giving Angry Paul Blart a raspberry and a one-finger salute as I walk away.
Ms. Larson, it was absolutely unprofessional for that agent to ask for your phone number, but it wasn’t sexual harassment. You said no and you walked away. Had he then subjected you to a higher level of screening, it would have been sexual harassment. Let’s not water down the standard so much that it is meaningless, and the experiences of other women are cheapened.
(Why did the alarm keep going off? Fortunately, the Nice Football Fan TSA Guy told me that if people have used a lot of lotion on their hands they can set off the explosives alarm. The alarm tests for nitroglycerin, and a common ingredient in many lotions is glycerin. Since I was in Arizona – which is known to be a little dry – I had slathered lotion on my hands just a few hours earlier. When I looked at the ingredient list on the lotion I used, the second one was glycerin. Mystery solved.)