In the discussions of the sick, fucked-up methods security theatre is using these days (pornoscanners and "enhanced" pat-downs that, if done by anyone but a TSA agent, would be grounds for a sexual assault charge), I was linked to a video that disturbed me greatly. Trigger warnings for disrespecting a child's bodily autonomy apply.
For those who cannot view it, the video is a clip of a news segment about security procedures and the ordeal of the three-year-old daughter of one of the news program's employees. A blurry clip taken on the man's cell phone shows his wife and daughter at airport security, when his daughter was required to undergo a pat-down. The little girl is crying hysterically, screaming over and over again, "Stop touching me!" while her mother holds her for the TSA agent to examine.
And as I watched it, my heart hurt for that little girl, and all I could think was, This is how we are trained. This is how the message sinks in, reinforced in so many ways by so many people: Your body is not your own. You do not have the right to not be touched. You do not have the right to say no. Saying no, saying stop, does not work. We tell children that if an adult touches them in a way they don't like, they should do something, say stop, tell their parents, etc. And then in a situation like this...this three-year-old child is trying to say stop, and yet the adult carries right on touching her, with her own mother's assistance. Tell me exactly how this doesn't completely undermine every time she's been told to say no and fight back?
Furthermore and specifically, this is not only how we are trained to the knowledge that our bodies are not our own property despite claims to the contrary, but this is how we are trained to accept the intimate control of those in power. When you are forced to accept touch you don't want by your own parents, because *this time* it's different, because *this person* is a Person In Authority, you learn additionally that you might be able to say no to other people, but you can never say no to Authority. The government has the right to put its hands on you, whether you want them to or not, and all you can do is submit to it. This is how you train a populace to just accept government overreach*, to not agitate, to not question. Inculcate a fear of authority and a knowledge of one's own helplessness in the face of that authority, starting at a young age, and you'll end up with a society in which this shit goes unquestioned. In which criticism of the government may safely be labeled "un-American", and it's considered legitimate discourse to tell dissenters to just shut up and support the President no matter what he does. (Weren't the Bush years just *so* much fun?)
I hope this child is all right. I hope this didn't scar her too badly. And I hope that we can move away from this kind of violating security theatre, fast. How, I don't know...but I hope we can.
*And before anyone - yes, Dad, I'm looking at you - jumps in with "Welcome to the Republican side!" or makes a crack about Dems that involves the phrase "nanny state", I'll remind you that the biggest expansion of executive power *specifically pertaining to* issues of "security" came from a hyper-conservative Republican, that conservative ideals of "small government" have only ever been meant for the privileged (white, male, cis, able-bodied, wealthy, etc) and that conservatives have always been quite happy to have government intruding on and regulating the lives and bodies of those with less privilege.