For all my writing about glimpses up women’s skirts, I’m not really a big pursuer of such glimpses without permission. But as I’ve been writing about those glimpses in recent days, I’ve found myself not so much seeking such glimpses as observing women in skirts and dresses as they ascend and descend stairs.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but I’ve been struck by how vigilant many women are in stairs. Many – most? – seem to devote some effort to limiting the prospects for those who might be attempting to sneak a glimpse. And some are downright obsessive with the care with which they gather the fabric of their dress or skirt close to their legs.
It got me thinking.
First, foremost, I feel for these women. It seems unfortunate, unfair, that people shouldn’t be able to navigate their lives without having to worry about their privacy’s being invaded.
But I had other thoughts, too: first, as I wrote long ago about creep shots, there’s more than a little magical thinking that informs such behavior. What, after all, does a leering view-grabber actually take when he successfully steals a view of a woman’s thighs or panties? Nothing. A view. An evanescent image and thrill, one that’s utterly costless, presumably, if the woman in question isn’t consciously aware of the viewer. And even if she is consciously aware? It’s still nothing. Except that we are conditioned to imagine such things are somehow violating.
And second: if I look, if I stand and leer up women’s skirts, I’m a lech. But if I take a picture, I’m (in my state) a felon. I’m guilty of a crime more serious, in many instances, than sexual assault. That’s right: at least in New York, if I take a picture up your skirt and get caught, I’m a felon, guilty of unlawful surveillance. But if I touch your breasts, or your pussy, in public, without your consent, I might well have committed the misdemeanor of forcible touching.
What. The. Fuck.
That just makes no sense. And yet – as I watch women gathering their skirts to walk up or down a flight of stairs, it’s clear that being seen is, somehow, scary to them. And, that our laws reflect this.