Sunday, 5 December 2010

I see right through you

Flying can be a stressful business. If it's not the exorbitant cost of airport parking causing you frustration, you're probably worrying about luggage allowances, and cursing yourself for not just buying that oh-so-heavy tube of toothpaste when you land.

However, for many people, the worst part of the airport experience is the security check. Shoes off, belts unbuckled, laptops out, toiletries decanted - then slowly inching forward, hoping that no-one notices the hole in your socks, and hoping the metal detector doesn't bleep accusingly. It's a pain in the arse, even without an invasive body cavity search.

Over in the US, new guidelines for scans and pat-downs by the Transport Security Administration have been causing quite a kerfuffle. Airline passengers are up in arms about being, well, up in arms, as airport officials give them a thorough pat-down. Then there's the added indignity of walking through a full-body scanner that shows them in all their computer generated glory.

The outcry has grown so loud that now TSA is finding itself on the receiving end of a bunch of lawsuits against 'unconscionable pat-downs', 'detrimental screening processes' and 'unreasonable search and seizure'. But lawsuits aren't the only way that people are making their displeasure felt.

On Tuesday, a 52 year-old wheelchair-bound woman called Tammy Banovac stripped down to her underwear at Oklahoma to protest the security searches. She told reporters that a previous search had left her feeling 'violated', claiming "If it happened anywhere else, it would have been sexual assault."

I'm not sure what message she thought she was sending by sitting there in her black underwear and a string of pearls, but "I'm a victim" certainly isn't it. Ironically, security officials detected nitrate on her wheelchair, and she ended up missing her flight anyway. But at least she got her picture in the paper.

Thankfully, not everyone is quite so precious about being seen in all their glory by airport personnel. In fact, one ingenious company has created a new range of underwear for people who are more than willing to show-off their concealed weapons. The 'Look At My Junk' range features small metallic arrows pointing out the pubic region that can be clearly seen on the body scanner screens.

The company's website states: "Let the TSA know your proud of your unmentionable regions and not ashamed to let them see your private areas. Wear your excitement and give the TSA a little more reason to enjoy their jobs." As though a couple of comedy arrows is enough to brighten the day of someone who has to stare at smushed grey genitals all day.

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