The fact that this word even has to exist is enough to make you sick. Like, where have we come to, as a species, that after spending millions and millions of years dragging ourselves up from the primordial ooze, slogging through some of the most hostile environments imaginable, dodging between the feet of gigantic murder-lizards, and evolving to the point where we had the means of creating world-conquering civilizations—where have we got to that it’s become necessary for us to smash two words together to create a whole brand new one just for the purpose of succinctly describing the practice of a man sticking a camera up a woman’s skirt without her consent? Like, really, human race? This is where we were heading? This is what it was all leading up to? The wheel and the written word and all the music and the pyramids and the patent-free Polio vaccine, those were all just appetisers for some perverted walking fartpillow deciding to shove a camera up places he has no business shoving it, were they?
Upskirting is a vile assault on women’s bodily autonomy. Last week, a bill was introduced into the British House of Commons that aimed to see the practice treated as a specific criminal offense, and one punishable by a jail term of up to two years. This bill has since stalled, as one Conservative MP blocked and delayed its passage through the House. Originally introduced by Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse after a campaign by upskirting victim Gina Martin, the voyeurism (offences) bill on upskirting was put forward as a private member’s bill. This is a type of bill introduced by an individual MP rather than as part of a party’s planned legislation, and as such their passage into law is relatively rare. Nevertheless, upon its introduction, the sitting justice minister said that the government would back it, thus giving it a chance. But later that day, when it came time for the House to debate the bill, a lone voice cried out: ‘Object!’ Tory MP Christopher Chope’s objection, coupled with there not being enough time in the session for a proper vote, meant that the bill would have to come back around for another try on the 6th July.
Chope was roundly condemned for his objection, with cries of ‘shame’ echoing throughout the chamber and more denouncements following since from across the political spectrum. A local artist, Lorna Ree, decided to send a more direct, colourful message, decorating Chope’s door thus:
Good to see some redecorating happening in my corridor over the weekend. Christopher Chope's door looking much better. pic.twitter.com/oPn27UCAN3— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) June 18, 2018
The Lib Demp MP introducing the bill tried to be more diplomatic. According to The Guardian:
Hobhouse said she was furious at Chope’s objection, which prompted calls of “shame”, including from the Tory frontbenches.
“I don’t think he actually has any substantive problems with the bill,” she told the Guardian. “He hardly knows what upskirting is, I think. It’s just he doesn’t like private member’s bills and certainly doesn’t like them when they come from other parties.
“It was meant to be a good news story. We were all lining up to say, this is a modern crime and the government is keeping up with crime created by modern technology, which particularly affects young women and children. It is very, very annoying and frustrating that objections to procedure take precedence for him over the right thing to do.”
A far more insidious line of reasoning came from Nick Freeman, a high profile, media-savvy English lawyer who refers to himself by the tabloid-given name, Mr. Loophole. He tweeted:
Whilst this is totally unacceptable conduct, if women— Nick Freeman (@TheMrLoophole) June 15, 2018
assumed some responsibility for their attire, they would not be in jeopardy. Prosecutions will only utilise valuable police and CPS
resources that should be prioritised elsewhere. #upskirting https://t.co/dkUGnIVCpV
Twitter was, unsurprisingly, not having any of it—including Freeman’s own daughter:
Get real dad - what an ignorant and thoughtless comment. Upskirting can quite easily happen even when women dress conservatively… but the responsibility still lies with the woman? This is for sure one of the top 3 stupidest comments you’ve ever made. #EngageBrainAndReassess— Sophie Freeman (@SophieOFreeman) June 16, 2018
Also his daughter calls him out and all he does is correct grammar. What a twaaaaattttt no Father's Day gift for you mate. pic.twitter.com/3Qu5vKBjxX— Holly (@bakersaurusrex1) June 16, 2018
People who get mugged - take some responsibility and stop looking well-to-do!— Stuart Taylor (@stuartctaylor) June 15, 2018
People who get burgled - if you're going to keep your things in one place, what do you expect?
People who have their cars stolen - well, it's a very nice car; what did you think was going to happen?
Wait, what?! Women can’t wear skirts because creepy men might take photographs?— Sam Elliott (@LeftyBarrister) June 15, 2018
Victorian Dad has landed.— Andy Morgan (@fivestring) June 15, 2018
If women just stayed indoors and never left the house, presumably their modesty would be protected and the police resources would be optionally employed?— Aozora (@aozora_aonami) June 15, 2018
FFS! This is 2018, not 1818!!!— Curious Chak (@Curious_Chak) June 15, 2018
Did you really not stop to think that valiantly defending perverts’ right to look at non-consenting women’s genitals without prosecution maaaaaaybe puts you on the wrong side of an issue?— Hollie (@HollieTheNerd) June 15, 2018
Pray tell me, what is the threshold of outfit that makes it NOT my fault if someone shoves a camera under my clothes without my consent?— Margaret P Houston (@HoustonMargaret) June 16, 2018
https://t.co/d0hFx9Zz8R Is this attire too provocative for you? What would you say is provocative about it? There are a million examples, Nick.— Danny Wallace (@dannywallace) June 16, 2018
And there was a man charged in Australia a few weeks ago doing precisely this. Trains are double decker so he’d sit on the lower level which is lower than the platform and photographer up girls skirts. School girls. Please tell me how we can take responsibility in this case.— Clare ⚡️ (@claregarry6) June 16, 2018
Adorably, I think he’s being provocative for attention.— Katherine Ryan (@Kathbum) June 17, 2018
Upskirting is awful. If people want to get a sneaky photo of a cunt they should just pop round your back garden instead.— Incapable Hans (@WhatEvil) June 15, 2018