This is Why Pants are Far More Modest Than Skirts: Beware the “Upskirter”

Posted on March 10, 2014


For all the religious and cultural conservatives who believe women should wear skirts for “modesty”:  think again.

It’s simultaneously heartening and disheartening that the Massachusetts legislature just passed a law making “upskirting” – photographing what’s under a woman’s skirt, without her knowledge –  illegal.  Heartening that they recognize that this behavior absolutely is a violation of privacy, and should be illegal.  Disheartening, because the law was passed in swift and direct response to a pervy voyeur being let off the hook by a Massachusetts court which ruled that existing laws against photographing “nude or partially nude” women without their consent did not apply in the case of Michael Robertson, who got his jollies by secretly shooting pictures up women’s skirts on the Boston public transportation system.

See, this is partly why Lila almost never wears a skirt, when she does, it is always well below the knee, and there is not one single dress in her closet.  Back when Lila was just a pup, little girls were expected to wear those useless little smock-dresses that seemed positively designed to show one’s underwear. Clearly, pants were a much better deal.  They stay put.  They don’t blow in the wind.  They don’t give anyone an eyeful when you are climbing a tree or a ladder.  They don’t fly up on the swings or the slide, or when some silly class clown flicks them up as an embarrassing joke.

Where did anyone ever get the idea that skirts are modest but pants are not?  And for God’s sake, never, ever tell me that skirts somehow “protect” a woman’s modesty.  The effect is quite the opposite.

In the modern age of miniskirts and thong underwear, I have many times been in meetings or on a subway train seated across from a woman whose tiny skirt reveals quite a lot to anyone in the facing seats.  I have more than once been riding up an escalator behind some silly young thing whose too-short skirt reveals everything to anyone standing below.   Maybe you don’t have a lot of sympathy for the scantily clad if they happen to be photographed; what they’ve got is plain for anyone to see, in public, at normal eye level with no special effort.  Hey, if they don’t seem to care, why should we?  And those aren’t real skirts anyway.  Shoot, they barely qualify as clothing, right?

But even with a more conservative skirt, you will have creeps who hang around, say, the Lincoln Memorial, intentionally seeking out and photographing women seated above them on the steps, as Christopher Cleveland was charged with doing last year.  Well, you might think, women should be more careful about where they sit, they should tuck their skirt around their legs, there are ways to avoid this kind of thing.

But then there are those perverts who, like Boston’s own Mr. Robertson, go through some contortions and make special efforts to actually insert their cameras under a woman’s skirt.  Conservative clothing will not defend against these creeps.  Taking care in where and how one sits will do no good, because that’s not when they strike.  No, these perverts are bold.  They will follow you, literally put their cameras up your skirt, and take the picture.  Check out the personal experience of “Hhager85” who describes feeling something touch her inner thigh as she rode up an escalator in a shopping mall in 2011.  She whipped around to discover a man, camera in hand, who had just photographed her underwear.  No one helped her as she confronted him.  He nonchalantly walked away.  He was not an anomaly; as Joanna L. Grossman and Lawrence M. Friedman write for,

The upskirters seem to have common techniques:  Some crouch down pretending to get something from a lower shelf, while they point a camera up the skirt of an unsuspecting woman standing nearby; some have shoe cameras; some stitch cameras into shopping bags that can be brushed against someone without necessarily triggering suspicion.  There are how-to websites for upskirting wannabes, and hundreds of websites where anyone can watch the fruits of various upskirting expeditions.  Modern technology plays into the hands of these fetishists:  smart-phones, with quiet, high-quality cameras built in, make it much easier for an upskirter to go about his business undetected.

So… no.  No woman’s modesty is completely safe in a skirt.  There is always some freak out there with his twisted way of getting a camera under your hemline, however conservative it may be.

You know where it’s hard to get a camera?  Inside someone’s pants.