What Is Upskirting? And How Can We Stop It?

It won’t come as a shock from the above picture that I like my skirts on the shorter side, preferably with a side of long-limbed leg please. Part of the premise of this blog is my lengthy legs and how darn psyched I am to whack them out.

I was once lambasted at a job because my skirts were too short. Did I make them longer? Did I heck. I hoicked up that waistline and got on. Sure, when I’m roaming the streets (in a non-Pretty Woman way) I’ll get some looks. Everyone does in a short skirt. Some jeers. Some lingers. I don’t act upon them. They’re flitting and they come with the territory, as disgusting as it is.

When it comes to skirts, it’s the shorter the better for me – but then I haven’t experience Upskirting.

SCENE CHANGE.

You’re at a festival. Everyone’s happy as clams to have their fleshy bits out in the sun for once. You’ve personally opted for a skimpy slip you just bought that makes you feel all kinds of fancy. It’s got the leg room for ‘Proper Dancing’ and is loose enough to air out the botty area when you really crack those moves out. Crack, geddit? You’re ready for some overpriced beers with garnish de grass, squawking with pals to booming music that will be your source of happiness through those S.A.D days in the bleak depths of grey hell we call winter. It’s going to be memorable.

You get there. Spirits are high, there’s Instas to make an influencer proud and there’s that lukewarm beer you promised yourself a few sentences ago. The music begins. The bopping happens. The crowd is vibin’ (ew, sorry). Then, you spot a couple of dickheads sneering. They’re loitering a bit. You try to ignore them, even tell them to F off, but their shifty presence is now bothering you. Something in your stomach tells you these guys ain’t right. You turn away. They move closer. You feel a push and one of them has grabbed your phone. You try to grab it back, but they run. You run too. Someone else runs with you. The police notice and you scream, ‘HE’S GOT MY PHONE’, so the police run too. They catch him, they give back your phone, they charge him for stealing. Relief.

This is based on a true story, but it’s not entirely correct.

Imagine all of this happened, but instead of a phone, it’s your vagina. Perhaps not your full vagina, unless you like going commando. Your vagina covered in a sliver of lace, or whatever briefs you put on that morning, but your vagina nonetheless.

Re-picture the scene:

You’re standing in the crowd, dancing away, eyes on the stage and the shifty AF guys are behind you. The F’ing off has happened and then you feel one move between your thighs. You see them laughing at a picture. It’s of a girl’s bum and legs. You stare in disgust, and then realise with horror that those are your legs and your bum. Naturally, you try to get it back. You manage to snatch the phone. You run from the crowd, you spot the police and head for them. You explain what these sick men have done to you. The police, although helpful, say they can’t do anything.

They couldn’t do anything because it’s not an indecent image, you’re wearing knickers. You leave dejected, made to feel small and like it is your fault.

This is the true story of Gina Martin, a woman who, after this act was not prosecuted, is now on a mission to create a specific Upskirting law. Because the thing is, something could have been done when this happened to her. Upskirting is not legal, there’s just not one specific law that covers all bases of this act.

This is partly the reason so many women don’t feel like they can report sexual assault and partly the reason so many people feel they can get away with doing it. It’s why when we slip on that short skirt we silently gird our loins knowing that some sort of sexual assault is going to happen, however small. And this shouldn’t be how it is.

At the moment it’s a case-by-case basis. It’s circumstantial. In order to prosecute, the offender has to have done something else vulgar to get the law’s attention. It kind of comes under the law of “outraging public decency”, but this doesn’t cover everybody, because this is an offence against the morals of the public, not the individuals feelings of indecency and complete violation of privacy. You also need two people to have seen you to make it public.

Then there’s the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which tackles voyeurism, but this is only for private acts. The two person rule is often satisfactory evidence for big crowds, but sometimes there will be times when cases don’t fall under either law: Enter Gina.

At time of writing, Gina is very close to making this specific law a reality.

upskirting

Lawyers have been involved, parliament meetings have been had, MPs are on board. But it’s not enough. She’s had hate from the public, been told she should have been wearing trousers and it’s been pointed out that the police have better and bigger things to tackle.

Gina could have gone home and let it sit with her, but she’s determined to get everyone to #StopSkirtingTheIssue.

No woman should feel they can’t wear a skirt in fear of this happening and no justice being served. Equally, no person should feel they can do this and get away with it. It’s not just a law that needs changing, it’s a mindset.

This is where you can make the real difference.

If this has made you just as determined as Gina there are ways that you can help. You can send a ready-made email to your MP, you can sign her petition and you can speak up about your own Upskirting stories. Just click here.

In the meantime, let’s keep wearing our skirts. Not just because we feel damn fine in them, but because we’re one step closer to helping make Upskirting a thing of the past.

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