Los Angeles TSA Needlessly Slut-Shames The Wrong 15-Year Old Girl

From what I can gather, being a teenaged girl doesn't seem easy. Even if you're a teenaged girl with one of the best dads I've ever known. One of the reasons it seems so difficult is thanks to creepy TSA agents who need to keep their mouths shut.

The young lady in question was going through security at LAX, travelling with a group of other high school students on a college tour. As she was going through the line, this happened, as described by her father, Mark, on the little website he started, a sleepy little hamlet called BoingBoing:

Here's what happened, as my daughter described it in text messages to us: she was at the station where the TSA checks IDs. She said the officer was "glaring" at her and mumbling. She said, "Excuse me?" and he said, "You're only 15, COVER YOURSELF!" in a hostile tone. She said she was shaken up by his abusive manner.

I've met the girl in question before, and I'm a friend of her father, Mark Frauenfelder. Mark is also editor of Make: Magazine, and was, among other things, responsible for Make: agreeing to sponsor my LeMons team. I mention this to disclose everything fully, and to confirm that this is not someone who makes a big deal out of nothing.

There's so much wrong with what the TSA officer did. Even if we temporarily ignore the fact that the man has absolutely no right to comment on what a person is wearing anyway, look at what she actually was wearing: Leggings, a big lumberjack shirt, another shirt under that. What the hell needed to be covered here? Gloves? A toboggan? Was he upset by the inch or so of flesh visible between her inner shirt and pants? Is this the sort of guy who gets flustered when he sees any strip of roughly skin-colored material? Does he avert his eyes from rulers, or maybe a series of band-aids laid end-to-end?

Of course, it doesn't really matter what she was wearing, the last thing that matters is what the jackass in the badge thinks of it. To tell a 15 year old girl to "COVER UP" is absolutely humiliating. It turns a decidedly asexual situation into something sexually charged, and it's all in the head of the TSA agent. The problem's not with the girl or her clothes— it's the TSA agent's reaction, and his own insecurity at his reaction.

The more you think about the idea that a girl is being told to cover her body because of the reaction of one man in a position of (slight) authority, the more problematic it gets. If you want girls really covered up, you end up with a burqa, and I think those probably have TSA issues of their own.

The one good thing out of this mess is that this TSA agent really picked on the wrong kid. Slut-shaming a very appropriately dressed girl is terrible, but when that girl's dad runs one of the most-read blogs on the internet, you can be sure something will happen to bring attention to this sort of thing.

So, while I'm sorry she had to go through such a humiliating experience, I'm hopeful the end result will be that all the attention brought to this will weed out this sort of insipid jackassery for good. So far, an investigation has been opened after Mark contacted the LAX TSA office. From his BB post:

My wife and I met with the TSA at LAX and they are opening an investigation. The supervising officer we met with, Officer Murphy, was apologetic, concerned, and professional. He cc'd me on his incident report to his manager and it looks like they are taking this seriously, which is good to know.

Be well, Frauenfelders.