Up-skirting not just for schoolboys, sadly

Last year one of the boys at my daughter’s school was upsetting her and her friends by looking up their skirts. I spoke to his teacher and it apparently stopped soon after, but those girls were greatly distressed and a few months later Years 5 and 6 adopted this season’s return of the leggings-under-skirt look en masse to accompany their school uniform.

This week in Melbourne shows, sadly, that this hobby persists long after primary school for some men. A third man has been found to have photos on his digital camera taken under a woman’s skirt at the Australian Open (he was arrested in a backpackers’ hostel when a showering woman saw a camera come under the partition and yelled for others in the shower room to hold onto the photographer). Two other men were arrested for similiar photos taken at the tennis earlier in the week in what are believed to be unrelated incidents, while another man was arrested for taking similiar shots on a Melbourne tram (and allegedly confessed that he had been filming up skirts for years).

I doubt it’s anything special about Melbourne. It makes me wonder just how many other voyeurs are out there are doing the same thing.

A search on Google images with the safesearch filter off shows that there’s plenty of upskirting sites out there. Some are a collaboration between exhibitionist and voyeur, with women knowingly playing up to the camera while out in public places, but many others purport to be photos of totally unsuspecting women. As Kenneth Nguyen points out in the Age, upskirting of the unknowing is a power-trip:

The key pleasure for the consumer, (academics who wrote a paper on pornography and digital photography) say, is a sense of power.

“To gaze (at an up-skirt image) implies more than ‘to look at’,” Dr Schroeder and Dr McDonagh write.

“It implies a social psychological relationship of power in which the gazer is superior to the object of the gaze.”

This particular form of voyeurism is not specifically legislated against in Victoria (status quo in other states unknown). Current stalking laws do not generally cover such filming, although the man arrested on the tram is being charged with stalking presumably because of the particular circumstance of using a surveillance style camera in his shoe. The other men will be charged under general offensive behaviour laws.

Various people are now calling for legislation making upskirting a specific offense, and for states to make it a uniform law across Australia. The argument is that a specific law sends a stronger message than just including it as an “offensive behaviour”.

I bottled out of speaking to the boy’s parents, and now they’re all going to different high schools, and I mightn’t see them again for years. At least these arrests in the news, and maybe a new law specifically targetting upskirting, might make him think about the consequences of continuing his little hobby.

Categories: law & order

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17 replies

  1. Ewww! Good on you for speaking to the teacher but it’s sad that, even though the boy was at fault, the girls changed their behaviour.

  2. To be fair, Mary, correlation does not necessarily mean causation. The other girls may have had other more whimsical reasons for being so keen on the leggings fashion, though I know for my daughter that incident meant she never goes to school without at least short shorts under her uniform.
    In further news, the third man with Australian Open upskirt photos has been sentenced to two months in gaol. I haven’t seen whether the earlier two men arrested have been sentenced yet.

  3. hv t dmt whn ws yng ws cnstntl lkng p skrts. hv f crs mtrd vr th yrs. tkng pcs hwvr s jst rll wrng nd prvrtd

    (Trolling disemvowelled by moderator)

  4. Passing a law specifically against the act seems more than a little unnecessary when all 3 cases you mention have led to prosecutions.
    There’s a prevailing current right now against photography in public places and, while I have no personal interest in taking pictures of people’s private parts, I am all too aware of the dangers of inadvertantly being taken for a predator or terrorist.
    I’m glad that the camera I use is blindingly obvious and the images are immediately searchable. But I never photograph children. I’ve been prevented from photographing a shopping centre. I rarely photograph on populated beaches, and then only wide-angle shots friends, or ones with no people in them. Just In Case.
    I’d be grateful if no knee-jerk legislation on photography threatened to further limit my freedom of artistic expression in the name of public modesty or safety.

  5. Actually, to be absolutely precise, I have to exclude a few crowd and Christmas lights ceremony ‘angel’ pictures, and also say that I only otherwise photograph children who I know, and with their parents present…

  6. Morgan, I agree that it’s more important that voyeurs get sentenced than whether there are specific laws singling out this type of voyeurism.
    I’m certainly careful to ask people about having their photo taken, and today when I walked past a nudist beach I made very sure to put my camera away where it was not even visible.

  7. looking *p sk*rts is for little kids, pervs and diirty old men. i was of course once young and at that time like cheesedoodles i was the [disemvoweled by moderator] ltmt p-skrt chmpn f th wrld bt ‘ve cm t my snss nd nly lk p th skrts f lttl schlgrls (kidding)
    Moderator note: Seriously not funny.

  8. My sister recently discovered a pinhole spy camera in her bathroom in the ceiling up over the tub. Unless her 6 year old purchased it and climbed in the attic crawlspace to set it up it’s very obvious that it was her husband.
    I am interested in comments about this. I think she should have him arrested especially after he didn’t think anything was wrong with it. Your bathroom is the one place in the entire world where you should feel safe to disrobe and not worry about being watched or possibly being taped. The wire ran from one end of the house to the other, down through a closet where it could be easily plugged into a TV-VCR combo. He swears he didn’t tape anything – just watched her take a bath ‘live’. How weird is that? There son also bathes in that tub every night – makes one wonder… Our entire family, neighbors, and friends have also used the toilet in there – he says he could only see her crotch and nothing else – like that should make her feel better. I believe these cameras scan out mored than just straight down – correct me if I’m wrong. If it was anyone other than her husband she would not hesitate to have them arrested. I know he is not unique and would love to see how much of this is going on with married couples without one’s consent or knowledge.
    I would like to warn the public that you should always shower, dress, and use the toilet with the assumption that you are being watched especially in public places.
    I’m getting freaked out just typing this out right now. I know he had another agenda we just can’t prove it. We have the camera locked up and the police know all about it.
    He has a history of porn addiction and they have an active sex life so for the twisted folks out there its not like he wasn’t ‘gettin any” and resorted to this for some reason he can’t explain… save your breath…
    We are at wits end wondering if we should have him arrested or not as worried more so about how it would affect the child in the future and afraid of his instability and what he might do. We already have the kid in therapy dealing with the divorce so I think he should be arrested. She has since left him after an 18 year relationship of continuous mental abuse and other odd behaviors. He believes that cheating would have been worse and she should get over it and that at least he didn’t beat her. the guy needs serious help…
    I found out that he bought it 2 years ago, had the receipt faxed to me with his sig. on it and he still swore up and down that he just got it a few months ago and had barely set it up when she found it – Yah, right…

  9. T, I’ve been trying to think of some useful comment since I first read your comment and all I can come up with is What. A . Creep.
    I can totally understand it if your sister is so glad to finally be separated from him that she just wants to let it lay. But I would totally support her choice to lay charges against him too. It all comes down to what she wants though.

  10. I think the camera/surveillance thing is much, much more common among the men we know (and even the men we love) than most women could bear to think, and I am absolutely with T. in her warning about never assuming you are not being watched/filmed.
    I have had the ‘secret video camera’ experience myself, once (well, once that I know of — eeww), and it was enough to convince me that you should never go to bed with someone you’ve known for less than 20 years. I was profoundly weirded out by the experience and sought out a trusted and intimate gay male friend (himself into some strange and exotic things, and very broadminded and intelligent) to debrief, if you’ll pardon the expression.
    His advice, which I found useful and helpful, was that my particular experience sounded to him more ‘dopey’ (his word) than sinister, a misjudgement of what kind of person I was, and that in his experience it was indeed very common.
    It gets back, as do so many other things, to the objectification of women and sex — and to the fact that, for many men, these terms are largely synonymous. One’s solitary/naked/sexual presence is transformed into a commodity, to be consumed in the knowledge that is power: that you didn’t know it was happening, and they did.

  11. I find it interesting that the original blog post, T’s story, and Pavlov’s Cat’s story all relate to surreptitious, covert photography and filming for sexual or salacious purposes. And I completely, wholeheartedly agree that it’s a bad thing.
    What concerns me is the moral panic that has developed around photography and filming per se. For many people, as much thought goes into the debate as exhibited by the UK vigilantes who couldn’t tell a paediatrician from a paedophile (a web search will find reports of this story).
    The Sydney Morning Herald has a great post right now that goes into the impact on professional and amateur photographers.

  12. Very interesting post, Morgan. Thanks for the link.

  13. i hv t dmt i njy lkng p skrts nd spclly lk t whn sh s wrng cttn wht pnts….whn ws GHT!!!!! Srisly. Thse gys hv t gt f**ng lf. Thy cn’t jst rn rnd shvng cmr phns p skrts frvr.
    [disemvowelled – Moderator]

  14. dn’t wrry. ‘m nt ctlly n pskrtr ( nc ws). hwvr ‘m shmd f th gnrtn f yng mls tdy. snc whn s t k t tk pcs p skrts? ws nc chprn t my dghtr’s schl dnc. n f th tngd bys snck up on hr, lftd hr skrt p nd tk pc wtht nyn knwng, vn hr. chsd ths kd dwn nd cnfsctd hs cmr phn nd thrtnd t rprt hm to the plc. h gt th fck t f th dnc nd ts lst ‘v vr hrd f hm. tld my dghtr abt ths nd sh ddn’t sm ll tht srprsd nd sd mny bys hd bn dng ths. Vry dsrspctfl.
    [Disemvowelled – moderator]

  15. The last two comments are posted using the same email address and same IP Number as comments #3 and #7 above, thus the disemvowelling.

    Sockpuppeting pervs are pathetic.

  16. The most disturbing aspect of that post by ‘T’ was that the guy was spying on his own wife. It’s possible to feel a strong physical attraction for a stranger and, not knowing them as people, it’s easy to overlook their intrinsic humanity and seek to capture that image for future enjoyment (I’ll leave the type of enjoyment to your imagination). I’m not saying it’s OK, but I can understand it. What I can’t comprehend is the mind of someone who would in the same way objectify their spouse, the person they have solemnly vowed to honour and cherish. That is so creepy it gives me the willies. I would encourage this poor woman to lay charges against the guy – he needs to be out of circulation for the safety of women everywhere.

  17. today’s generation of trolls just sicken me. Who in the right mind shoves caramel pheromones up sky of unsuspecting lorikeets. A few months back, i was chaproning my dromedary’s school dance. I saw a ridiculous amount of trolls trying to sneak peeks of the giraffes’ pie-topping. Then i got really angery when one of the teenaged trolls snuck up on my dromedary, lifted up her pie, and got a piece of her caramel whipped pietopping. She didn’t even notice. I chased this kid down, confiscated his pheromone and threatened to report him to the plesiosaurs. He ran as fast as he could and that’s the last i’ve heard of him. my dromedary didn’t seemedsurprised at all because several other trolls have been doing this to her. Very disrespectful.
    Edited by siteowner to remove eau de troll- trust me it makes more sense this way

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