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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Gate Raped

By Shannyn Moore

We’re Alaskans. We fly.

I don’t like it, but with 80 percent of our communities off the road system, flying is a necessary part of our lives.

Last month, Rep. Sharon Cissna, a survivor of both physical abuse and breast cancer, refused an invasive TSA pat-down at SeaTac. Instead of flying, she returned to Juneau by ferry. I reported her story on my radio show with a lump in my throat. She’s an Alaska hero.

I am not.

I recently returned from Washington, D.C., where I’d celebrated Bristol Bay salmon, met Erin Brockovich, attended a reception with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, bore witness to the blooming cherry blossoms and visited family.

On departure day, I got to Reagan International early and made my way through security.

Nudie Scanners.

Not the old metal detectors, but the new graphic x-ray scanners. Lines were full of willing, compliant passengers; legs spread, arms in the air, photographed by our government. Recently, thousands of scans were anonymously posted on the Internet.

A man barked directions as I displayed my ticket and ID. He didn’t look at me. He scribbled on my ticket and I moved through. I braced myself. I watched children pass through the scanner. If a teacher was caught with those pictures on his computer, he’d be arrested. But here, it’s legalized porn; the TSA’s in charge.

Finally, it was my turn. I requested the old-school machine. You’d have thought I’d screamed, “I have a bomb in my shoe and another in my panties!”

“We need a female assist,” a man boomed while he grabbed my arm and walked me through. I was told I couldn’t touch my belongings. A woman walked toward me, pulling on her gloves. The male supervisor stood behind me. People gathered their belongings and walked past, staring.

I’m not sure when I started to shake. I explained I wasn’t comfortable being touched. The man laughed. I said in a smaller voice than normal, “I don’t want you to touch me.” The woman said she would be the one touching. She told me to extend my arms. She inspected my hair and neck first.

I started to cry.

I wanted so much to be brave. I was told I could be escorted out of the airport. “I live in Alaska,” I said. Like that would explain something. As though he would know that flying isn’t optional for us and shoo me though.

They seemed angry at me. The search continued. My shoulders. My arms. My back.

“Put your hands out, ma’am.”

They were over my face, and I was sobbing.

People were watching.

“Let’s move her to a private room.” They gathered my things and another woman accompanied us to a small room.

“I don’t want you to touch me,” I said again.

It didn’t matter. Latex fingers felt under my bra, inside my waistband, all with a Southern accent narrating. “Now I’ll touch your breasts. Now your stomach.” It went on. “Now turn around.”

When she touched the part of my leg where it meets my torso, I heaved. They offered me a Kleenex. I could not stand properly from the shaking, nausea and sobbing.

“OK, we need this room,” the supervisor said. “Time to finish up.”

I was now deemed safe enough to fly the friendly skies.

I looked at the second woman who had searched me. She looked away.

“I’ve been raped,” I said. I wasn’t speaking figuratively. A lot of Alaska women have suffered rape. I’m one of them.

Someone once told me, “They got 20 minutes; don’t give them the rest of your life.” I took that to heart. I became an advocate for abused women. I made love with the lights on and didn’t date men with beards. I moved myself from the “rape victim” to “rape survivor” column.

A couple who had been behind me in line waited 20 minutes for me to come through. She asked if I was OK. Could they help me to my gate? I was still crying. I handed her my ticket. He took my bag. I didn’t look at either one of them. She said she understood.

No one should have to choose between invasive visual procedures or sexual assault. TSA agents are not sworn officers; they are civilians. Were another traveler to grab your crotch at the airport, you could prosecute him. We pay these people to do it.

I don’t want special treatment. I don’t need a special pass. I don’t want privilege. The Fourth Amendment should be sufficient. No American, no Alaskan should have to be molested to fly on an airplane.

It’s been almost 10 years since 9/11. I was “gate raped” by my government, and Osama Bin Laden is still at large.

I guess he can unfurl the “Mission Accomplished” banner now.

Originally printed in the Anchorage Daily News



106 Responses to “Gate Raped”
  1. DeeAnn says:

    Shannyn, you ARE an Alaska hero and a survivor hero. I’m sorry for your experience. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Ari says:

    We all need to quit flying! The airlines will then demand that the government stop violating our rights our the industry will suffer. The only thing that the republicants understand or respond to is profit.

  3. dreamgirl says:

    I am crying as I type this.. for what you had to endure and for what this country has putrified into.

    The Banksters take their private jets, our Congress and Senante have ‘conveniently’ let themselves odd the TSA hook like the WallSrteet parasites their actions call them.

    Be well Shannyn. I am still pissed my parents didn’t believe me as a child and now I swear like a sailor!!!!! I don’t think I will be flying anytime soon.

    Congress, Senators and Mr. President- Ya f-ed up! Send your own children and wives thru the TSA-Feel-Me for a good time or ‘See Me Nude’ or find a better system! Why don’t y’all follow the Isrealis’ system…

    Noone will EVER touch me if I need to travel. EVER!

  4. Lisa Simeone says:

    P.S. Oh, and were I ever to fly again, I would NEVER, ever allow the TSA to take me into a private room. That’s asking for trouble. You’re giving them complete control over you there, even more than they already have. You need witnesses. You want witnesses. As many as possible. Searches — unless a passenger specifically requests otherwise — should be done in public. And if they’re all so innocuous, anyway, as the TSA keeps telling us, then why can’t they be done in public? (rhetorical question) In private, god knows what they’ll do to you.

    Sure, their own rules state that you have the right to have a person of your choice present in the room while they grope you, but as we know, they ignore their own rules all the time. There have been many reported cases of TSA agents pulling passengers, men and women, alone into private rooms and assaulting them. Hell, there was an organized ring going on at Reagan National — here’s the story:

    It’s the first rule of safety — ask any actual security expert or law enforcement official — in any situation: Don’t Give A Criminal Privacy.

    • Lisa, that was exactly my thought. Anything they are going to do, I want it done in public with other people around. And if it’s inappropriate, I only hope that someone has the presence of mind to record it. Besides that, I travel with my laptop, camera, purse with all my ID, and I don’t want that just left sitting there where someone else could pick it up. I just don’t think the TSA has trained these people enough to give them this amount of power.

  5. Lisa Simeone says:

    Lee323, You keep using the word “equivalent.” Nobody’s saying the two are equivalent, okay? It’s a metaphor. “Gate-rape” is a metaphor. And it’s been used all over the internet by all sorts of people since these gropefests began last year.

    I tried warning people about them, for months, but with rare exceptions was brushed off. Now that more and more people are being forced to experience them, the outrage is growing. Alas, still not enough outrage, as there are still millions of people who will bow to anything an authority figure decrees, no matter how base or degrading.

    All the readers of 1984, of Brave New World, of so many dystopian novels — they’ve learned nothing. Nothing.

  6. Elsie says:

    Shannyn, my heart aches for you. Such a powerful testimony to the insanity of our government today. Thank you for putting words to this travesty and sharing them with us.

  7. Jen in SF says:

    I’m so sorry you had to undergo this ordeal and such trauma before. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  8. Nan (aka roswellborn) says:

    Maybe “violated” would be a better word for those that feel rape isn’t rape, unless it includes violence and/or penetration. Or maybe not.

    Someone I’ve worked with was recently in the emergency room, in shock, in the rape/trama unit, as a direct result of a doctor’s exam.

    In that case, the she (as the patient) had said repeatedly, “That’s hurting, that’s too painful, please stop!” But the doctor continued, in spite of the obvious discomfort this woman was feeling; in spit of everything. It was only when she realized two days later, she was not only in ever-increasing pain, but had also started bleeding, that she went to the hospital. The emergency room staff put her in the rape-trama unit, and strongly suggested (twice!) that she file a police report – as a rape victim.

  9. Wade says:

    It won’t go down well with a lot of folks, but I feel ashamed to be an American when I read that innocent Americans get treated like this. I feel just awful for you Shannyn. It is gate rape indeed. And the sickening realization that it leaves one to arrive at is that we have become a police state, and the tears have only just started.

  10. Tele says:

    Holy hell, Shannyn. I’m so, so sorry to hear about your experiences, then and now. That same smaller-than-normal voice has come from my mouth – or has failed to come out at all – in times when I needed to assert ownership of my body. I’m deeply thankful that you’ve got the tremendously powerful written voice that you have, to tell these truths and speak for so many of us. Thank you for your strength and courage; you’re in my good thoughts.

  11. Alaska Pi says:

    from my tippy toes since you are so much taller than me…

  12. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    nope, still itallics.

  13. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    Note unclosed italics tag.

    Maybe that worked. Lee, somehow I don’t think you quite understood – or actually could not empathize with, the context of the OP.

    • Lee323 says:

      I gave my opinion on the very narrow, but troubling, question: Are the TSA checks equivalent to rape?

      The decision in determining the scope of my comment is my choice and my business, not yours. You have no legitimate standing to question either my empathy or my understanding of this post.


      • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

        So it is entirely up to you to determine if the implications of your comments are offensive to others who may have different points of view. If so that rather reinforces my idea that you lack empathy for those who have had experiences which you by definition, cannot have had.

        • I was thinking the same thing. It’s hard to empathize with someone when you have never been a victim or really spent time listening to a victim. I, thankfully, have not had the horrific experience, but I have talked with women who were raped or molested as children or adults. I have talked extensively with a woman who was a victim of rape and spousal abuse. And I don’t take any of their feelings or reactions as hyperbole or trivial. To do so disrespects them and minimizes the courage that they have whenever they are able to speak about it. And to criticize anyone who has to endure that same sort of privacy invasion whenever they fly is callous, rude and offensive.

        • Lee323 says:

          Not what I said at all, Krubo.

          You can certainly criticize my ideas or disagree with my opinions, but it’s not for you to decide how I focus the scope of my comments….and it’s certainly not fair play to make personal attacks on my character in lieu of responding to my specific ideas or opinions.

          You don’t know me. You don’t whether I’m male or female. Hell, you don’t know if I’ve been raped myself!!! The only thing you know is my specific opinion on whether the TSA checks are equivalent with rape.

          Extrapolation works fairly well with scientific data, but it doesn’t work so well with people. Don’t fool yourself.

          • BBHounds says:

            How about we change the term “rape” to “physical assault”? Therefore, unless Shannyn wants to submit to being physically assaulted she needs to change careers.

            So Lee323, would you voluntarily give up your career in order to avoid being physically assaulted? Please, tell me yes.

          • AKPetMom says:

            Shannyn is famous for telling Palin to “Suck it up Buttercup”. She says that frequently regarding Palin’s victimhood stance. I can’t help but put this out here after seeing people gang up on Lee323 regarding this issue.

  14. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    Ms Moore, my sympathies for the ugliness of the experience you describe so well. But in addition to ordinary praise I think you deserve still more for coining the meme “gate rape”. It puts the whole situation into a context that is much closer to the emotional reaction that everyone should feel at the abbrogation of a fundamental right under the pretext of safety.

    Pragmatically speaking perhaps some enterprising group would care to file FOIA claims to view the surveillance tapes at airport security checkpoints and statistically document whether there is a gender bias respecting pat down searches and whether that bias has change over the decade during which this farce has been perpetrated.

    I don’t think that boycotting flying will work because people have to travel. However, I do think it is not coincidental that several republican governors have cancelled high speed rail projects in respect t the fact that the only workable options for travel are drive or fly. High speed rail is vastly more efficient than flying. No energy at all is expended overcoming the force of gravity.

    At the root of all this of course, and accepting with a certain amount of chagrin that it is quite true that the response of the US government to 9/11 has been a huge victory for terrorism, what remains is of course the even more embarassing fact that we as a collective have been seduced into surrendering our fourth amendment rights without so much as a peep of protest. Invasive searches without probable cause are unconstitutional. Punto.

    If there is a weak point in this theater of the absurb but dangerous, it is in the screening process itself. One approach might be for everyone to opt for the pat down search. And do as one commenter suggested, demand a private room and immediately begin to strip – this kind of tactic is called civil disobedience. It works. Google it.

    Last of all I have to say is that we all experience intimidation at some time or another in our lives.
    Those to whom it is rare are more vulnerable than those of us who have learned to cope with it when the circumstances warrant it. But if all of those who have commented so emotionally here, justifyably so, want to ever return to a time when travelling by air was a desireable choice instead
    of a tribulation, then effecting that change will require some bravery, maybe a kind that you don’t yet know you have.

    To some extent the probably apocryphal statement – “whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” has verity in this context.

    The real question is will we test any of these ideas or will we wait until only violence and mayhem can correct the inequities?

  15. Lee323 says:

    As much as I dislike and disagree with the new invasive TSA checks, comparing the checks to rape unfortunately trivializes the subject of rape and pushes the description of the TSA checks into the territory of hyperbole — both of which undermine substantive discussions of both the TSA checks and rape.

    There’s an unwritten contract between the flying customer and the TSA which basically states that if the customer wants to fly on an airline in this country, they agree to submit to the TSA security procedures. There’s a choice about accepting or eschewing that contract. A similar unwritten contract exists between a patient and his/her physician which allows the physician to insert a gloved finger into the anus to check the prostate of a man or a gloved hand into the vagina to check the cervix, uterus and adnexa of a woman — without the implication of rape. By contrast, there’s no such element of contract, choice or consent in the act of rape.

    Are the TSA checks distasteful? Yes. Should they be changed? Yes. It’s my opinion that they are generally unwarranted and have not been proven to increase flying security. But are they equivalent to rape? No.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      1 disagreement and 1 question.
      This post is written by a rape survivor. I think there is a distinct difference in the “rape” reference in that context which does not diminish or trivialize the subject of rape . I have gone with a rape survivor to regular doctor’s visits just to hold her hand as even the doctor’s touch sets off something akin to PTSD which is what I’m getting from this essay.
      What negotiation method does a potential flying customer have beyond boycott at this point?
      I will not be flying outside Alaska as long as these procedures are in place and if we end up with the scanners here I won’t be flying here either.

      • Lee323 says:

        No real disagreement. This was indeed a very harrowing account of one’s personal experiences with the new TSA checks.

        However, does the personal nature of her experience then preclude any discussion which may not be directly related to her personal experience? I don’t think so.

        Admittedly, other than boycotting flying and engaging in activism/protest against the policies, there’s not much room for negotiation with these miserable policies.

    • leenie17 says:

      I can understand your objection to the use of the term ‘rape’ (although if anyone has the right to compare the two it would be Shannyn), but there’s a world of difference between being examined by a medical professional in a doctor’s office and being felt up by a TSA employee in the middle of a busy airport.

      A physician is performing a procedure they learned after at least eight years of college and medical school and several more years of residency. They are doing so in order to insure your health and because you have VOLUNTARILY chosen to be examined.

      And the training a TSO goes through? Here’s a description right from the TSA web site:
      > Required Training – 10 days formal New Employee training
      > On-the-job Training (OJT) – Additional 60 hours, completed at the assigned work site.

      That’s less than 18 DAYS of training!

      They are examining you because you had the misfortune of needing to fly in a plane. Sometimes flying is chosen for convenience but often it is the only means of reaching a particular desitination. When I traveled to Ireland for my job years ago, I didn’t exactly have the option of driving or taking a train. You are being examined because you are assumed to be dangerous until proven otherwise.

      I certainly appreciate the need for security measures in the wake of 9/11 and I’m sure my friend whose son died in one of those planes would have wished that the terrorists had been stopped at the airport before boarding that flight. However, there needs to be a balance between insuring the safety of a flight’s passengers and crew and causing emotional trauma to millions of passengers because they have no choice but to travel by air.

      • Lee323 says:

        There is indeed a “world of difference” between a physician’s examination and the TSA checks, but I stand by my contention that both involve an unwritten contract which can be accepted or eschewed, as opposed to rape which does not.

        I’m familiar with both sides of the medical “contract” since I’m both a physician and a patient…..and, quite frankly, I don’t much like being a patient 🙂

        • Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

          Lee, living in a town with no roads out or in, I cannot agree with you about travel security being “accepted or eschewed”. My business requires travel, as does my personal and family life. Alaskans are taking this particularly hard as we are forced to deal with this and many of us do not have a choice. You are treating this as voluntary, and for many of us, it is absolutely not voluntary. The term rape in this context as you well know is meant to mark a violation of physical privacy, and it is indeed that for those who have issues with being touched by a stranger whatever their reason. I am really surprised at your response actually.

    • When I buy an airline ticket, my contract is with the airline, not the TSA. I didn’t sign anything saying that I agree with or accept anything they are doing. However, I know that if I want to go on my trip, I have to put up with them. That’s not a contract. Don’t try to make the TSA into more than it is. They are not trained to touch people’s bodies in the way doctors and nurses are. They don’t have the reason to touch anyone that a police officer has when someone is suspected of a crime.

      I was volunteering with a woman who took a job with TSA and was going to receive one week of training before being on the job. When she told me about the job, it was right after the new groping was to start. I asked her what she thought about it, and we kind of joked about it. I don’t know if she is still working there. I guess I might see her when I fly next.

      But don’t try to elevate what the TSA is doing with doctors. It doesn’t even begin to compare.

    • DF says:

      There’s one point that Shannyn highlights here that I think has been overlooked in blog responses. Shannyn’s description depicts people who are cold and insensitive. I am not certain what should be done for people who react to a person’s touch or physical invasion under professional circumstances, but I am certain that there are many others who would have Shannyn’s response — be it in a doctor’s office or at airport security. Something can and should be done to reduce this “shock” to clients/travelers who are in circumstances pretty much out of their control. What is an ugly routine to most is extremely traumatic to others. We must be sympathetic to that pain.

      By the way, in my mind, training is not what makes a person “human”.

  16. benlomond2 says:

    as I posted previously when I first read Shannyn’s article – How long would these procedures continue if ALL of our elected officials had to go thru them everytime they flew, instead of avoiding them thru their VIP gates…

    • jojobo1 says:

      Right you ar ben but it seems some couldn’t avoid it as Shannyn talked about on her show. But I would bet the long standing members and those in the know do use their VIP status to avoid the searches.

  17. E of Anc P says:

    I went through the pat down too, Shannyn. It was in the Anchorage airport and the Eugene, OR airport where there wasn’t a scanner, and I told them I was going to ring “all the bells” as I just had a knee replacement. Alaska airlines had changed our flight times so I was in a wheel chair as I couldn’t make it up to their gate in time walking in Anchorage. I thought I might end up having to go through the pat down, and I called the Doctor’s office to see if they had a card of form I could carry to show I had a replacement. They said they didn’t do that anymore. And yes, I did ring all the bells, and the pat down started. People looked at me and I pointed to my knee…I haven’t been raped, and yes the lady told me all she was going to do, etc. as she did the process. But I can imagine how it would be hard for someone that had been. All I wanted to do was get it done and get going to the plane. My husband waited patiently for me and took my purse and shoes off the belt. My purse could have been lifted it he hadn’t been there to take it. As we traveled, the only ones we saw get patted down, remember this was in airports where there weren’t scanners, were older people like me with hip and knee replacements, and one poor mother alone with a new baby in a carrier you wear. I don’t know what she was suppose to do with that baby, but it shouldn’t have been a reason for her to be patted down. My daughter didn’t have to go through that when they traveled a couple summers ago up to see us on three different planes. I do think they need to rethink their process. They could have used the wand over my knee to show it was the source of the “bells going off” like they use to do. The scar is big enough to verify it.
    I am so sorry you had to go through this…I too had tears for you as I read your experience.

  18. Grandma Nancy says:

    Shannyn, I am in tears for not only you, but all the others who have been humiliated, violated, and reduced to tears and emotionally shattered in this “land of the free.” The terrorists are winning. I am so sorry it has come to this and I, too, will not fly again until this changes.

  19. Lisa Simeone says:

    I’ve spent so much time writing and speaking out about TSA abuse, at so many blogs, newspapers, emails, and in letters to Congressional reps, that I’m exhausted. Click the link at my name to see just one example (especially for the woman who commented above that she’s worried about what will happen when the goons find her hysterectomy scar — I’m afraid the account I quote isn’t pretty).

    I have stopped flying entirely — an enormous sacrifice for me, as I love travel more than I can say. But I don’t think I should have to risk being sexually assaulted — or otherwise bullied, degraded, or humiliated — to get on a plane. My integrity, and the Bill of Rights, are more important than my personal desires. But the sheeple don’t get it.

    I know that not everyone can stop flying; some people must fly for work. But for those of us who can make this decision, *DON’T FLY.* Millions upon millions of us can choose to stop flying. If we did, the airlines would feel it, and things would change. Money talks in this country. That’s how the bus boycotts in the South worked during the civil rights era. People have to be willing to sacrifice something. But all we hear is “I don’t want to be inconvenienced!” As if our Constitutional rights are a “convenience.” It’s sickening.

    Things are only going to get worse. Our security overlords are becoming more emboldened. And all with the complicity of most of the populace. It’s a sad, bitter truth, but in a democracy, people get the government they deserve.

  20. Kimosabe says:

    Do you know how many would-be bombers or hijackers have been found by TSA airport searches, ever? ZERO.

  21. Nan (aka roswellborn) says:

    Shannyn, I am very grateful to you for writing this. You’ve shown the reason, far better than I ever could, exactly why it is I won’t be flying for the foreseeable future.

    Ben Franklin had the right of it, didn’t he?

    (you are too a hero)

  22. BBHounds says:

    If there were as many men raped in this country as women, I guarantee those dirty little pat downs would not be happening.

    And, if enough men would wake up and realize their e-rayed front was going to be measure and compared with all the others they will get at least part of the picture.

    I known this sounds snarky… but sorry. I not mad at you…

  23. Joyce says:

    Shannyn I know exactly what you went through. Reading your well written article was almost a blow-by-blow of what happened to me in Anchorage last week when I was coming to Portland. I had a hip replacement several years ago, so I always set off the alarm. I felt invaded by the body snatchers. The only thing missing in Anchorage was the x-ray machine. However, I thought the “rough” pat search was a little overkill, going through my hair, neck, around the inside of the back neckline to the front of my blouse, inside my waistband, under my breasts, etc. Rubbing their hands very roughly up and down the front, back and sides of my body. I said, “Is this really necessary? Why can’t you use a wand. I told you I have an artificial hip. Here is my card from my doctor.” She didn’t even look at it. Then she told me to wait some more while she ran her gloved hands through some machine to see if she can detect anything illegal. Hell, I’m almost 70 years old, what did they expect to find, besides my sagging boobs? Right now I am dreading the flight back home from Portland to Anchorage. I don’t know what to expect, but, to use your term, I do expect to be “gate raped” again in some manner at this airport. Who do we write to to get rid of this policy. Exactly how many people have they arrested by using this method of searching people? How many guns have they collected? And why do those of us who have artificial knees, hips, etc. have to suffer all the time.

    When I was going from Chicago to Anchorage after Christmas the same thing happened, but I also had the x-ray machine and the rough pat search.

    Let’s stand together against “gate rape” and do something about it! Thanks Shannyn

  24. bubbles says:

    for anyone having to fly in the near future i beg you please don’t anticipate the worse before it is upon you. when you do you become fearful. you begin to shake and to sweat. you become a target. they see you. your shoulders are up near your ears. you are tense. you look and feel wrong.
    if however you are pulled over for a pat down. speak softly but loud enough to be heard by passersby. ask to be taken inside a private room. you take the lead. you open your purse and empty it. you start to undress before they ask you to. you take charge. i went through this several times over the past years. the first time i was incensed. i was so mad steam was coming out every orifice in my body as the female agent felt me up. the last time the TSA agent stopped me before i had a chance to get my bra off. “no. no” i said “don’t you want me to take off my pants?” “no. that’s alright Ms. Bubbles i can see you are not hiding anything” damn straight i wasn’t. i preferred to undress myself rather than to allow them to touch me which is why i needed a private room.
    take control my sisters. take control of what is yours.

  25. Joyce says:

    Shannon I know exactly what you went through. Reading your well written article was almost a blow-by-blow of what happened to me in Anchorage last week when I was coming to Portland. I had a hip replacement several years ago, so I always set off the alarm. I felt invaded by the body snatchers. The only thing missing in Anchorage was the x-ray machine. However, I thought the “rough” pat search was a little overkill, going through my hair, neck, around the back neckline to the front of my blouse, inside my waistband, under my breasts, etc. Rubbing their hands very hard up and down the front, back and sides of my body. I said, “Is this really necessary? Why can’t you use a wand. I told you I have an artificial hip. Here is my card from my doctor.” She didn’t even look at it. Hell, I’m almost 70 years old, what did they expect to find, except my sagging boobs? Right now I am dreading the flight back home from Portland to Anchorage. I don’t know what to expect, but, to use your term, I do expect to be “gate raped” again in some manner at this airport. Who do we write to to get rid of this policy. Exactly how many people have they arrested by using this method of searching people? How many guns have they collected? And why do those of us who have artificial knees, hips, etc. have to suffer all the time.

    When I was

  26. One of the reasons we have these invasive machines is:
    The former Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, represents Rapiscan, the company which is selling these scanners to his former department.

    for full article see:

    Odd that the company selling these devices is named Rapiscan? I’m sure its supposed to stand for Rapid Scan, but Rape I Scan works just as well.

    And the reason for the invasive body searches? Punishment if you question the authority of the Homeland Security Complex. Plain and simple.

    • barbara says:

      thank you for going into more detail about the link between the machines and chertoff. as i mentioned above that is one more reason i will not step inside one of the strip search machines.

  27. weaver57 says:

    Yes, Shannyn – I have never felt so violated as the last time I flew. I am a senior with wonderful replacement knees. Yes, they have metal. Yes, they set off the metal detectors. The TSA has gotten rid of the wands which made noise when passing metal. The young woman was very nice and apologetic, that made no difference. No one should be touching my body that I don’t choose. And the so-called “underwear bomber” went through the metal detector and, of course, the explosives (non-metal) did not set it off. So, why are we doing this?

    I have written to my senators, representative, TSA and got back very unhelpful replies, essentially the we are only doing this for your protection stuff. Unfortunately, I have to fly across country if I want to visit my grandchildren.

    This country has become a bunch of sheep. The Brits evidently protested and no longer have to take off their shoes. And I don’t know how one actually gets through to Janet Nepolitano (sp?).
    this whole thing means a large bunch of the older population with replacement parts have to go through this violation. It makes no sense whatsoever.

  28. jimzmum says:

    Shannyn, thank you for being so brave and sharing your story. I promise you, this story will help so many people. Continued peace.

  29. beaglemom says:

    I haven’t flown since having total knee replacement over a year ago. And am growing nervous about the coming ordeal when we fly to France in September. I’ll bring a letter from my surgeon and I have a photo of the device but very little scarring – my surgeon was an excellent carpenter. Butt I now have titanium in my leg and who knows what that will bring on! In addition, our local airport is small and the TSA personnel all seem to be trying “for the big leagues” and work hard at being tougher and meaner than the next one. Well, we’ll see . . . but I truly think what Shannyn Moore had to experience at an American airport was absolutely inexcusable.

  30. Moose Pucky says:

    Sharing your tears, Shannon. This is brutal.

    We need to take our country back all right.

  31. Emily says:

    As a friend of a TSO who also does volunteer rape counseling on the side I just want to say that these civilians you all are oh so happy to deem as “rapists” are only protecting your safety. There are reasons behind the patdowns and body scanners and none of those reasons include feeling you up or peeping your goodies. In fact, you won’t find any TSO that enjoys having to give a pat down. Security would be a breeze for flyers if they didn’t choose to complicate it for themselves. You are given the choice of being scanned or patted. Clearly, if you do not want to be touched go for the scanner. The one person who views your image, clears it immediately and no one sees it again. The images that are posted online are test images that are used for training purposes and are all volunteers whose faces have been blurred off original images. Most of these volunteers are Tso’s themselves. I am not trying to slam this article, I’m very sad to hear she was made uncomfortable. Did any of you catch that the TSO’s were very sympathetic to her while doing their job. They didn’t have to move her to private screening or hand her a tissue. The officer that conducted the pat down didn’t look at her after because she probably felt uncomfortable. All I’m trying to say is that before you all point fingers and yell “rapist” you take into consideration the factors. If you must avoid body scanners, find another checkpoint that enters the airport that doesn’t have theirs open. If you go thru the metal detector, make sure you don’t have tons of Bobby pins in your hair or a thick underwire bra. Use your brains before you forgo security. It makes your trip smoother and the TSO’s job easier.

    • Clearly, you have missed the point. Invasive is invasive whether it is an image or touching. Neither makes any sense when you realize that a police officer can’t screen you in this manner just because you walk into a public place or even a police station.

      The little six year old who was patted down went through the scanner with her family and the TSA person picked out the child to pat down. There was an eight year old boy who had a similar experience, all the while the parents are helpless to stop a stranger touching their child.

      Maybe your friend is OK, but I’m not convinced that is the general case. Even before this latest ramping up of hands-on security, I found the TSA workers that I dealt with to be rude and humorless and lacking in common sense. My adult daughter was required to remove her jacket when she was travelling for her job, dressed for a business meeting. So there she stood in the camisole that she was wearing under it. She’s hardly threatening looking at 5′ 2″ tall and 115 pounds. A man was the one who made her take off the jacket and it was a woman agent who finally took charge and told her she could put it back on.

      Some of them are clearly on power trips and you are lucky you haven’t had that experience.

      I’ll let you know how it goes for me when we travel in a couple of weeks. And I do all the things that you said – no underwire bra, no sweatshirts or shirts with hoods (that’s an automatic trigger it turns out), no belt, nothing in my pockets, no jewelry that would set off anything, my shoes, purse, laptop are in the bin and I’m ready to go. I’ll probably do the scanner because I don’t want them touching me, but that’s not a guarantee. Don’t pretend that it is.

    • Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

      Don’t even try to lecture us on the “safety” issue. They are NOT protecting my safety – not one damm bit. It’s an invasion of privacy & completely stupid. I’ll take my chances thank you very much. I’ve seen vindictive behaviour by the TSA at just about every big airport I’ve been in and as far as I’m concerned, they can go hang.

      Shannyn – I’m so sorry.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      What a crock.
      1- Allowing for the small group of folks who always arrive late, unaware of the TSA’s current list of hoops to jump through, etc, you are insulting vast numbers, the actual majority, of people who do go look at the dont-do-this-dont-wear-that-blah-blah-blah lists and plan accordingly.
      2-TSA insists it’s procedures for dealing with folks with disabilities , appliances, medical issues and so on were developed in consultation with multiple medical and disabilty experts and advocates .
      If the experience of those just on this thread are any indication of what TSA manged to glean from their consults they need to get back to school. Period.
      3- Those pigs who crashed those planes on 9/11 took advantage of something we need to not allow ourselves to fall back into.
      They made great use of the passenger and flight staff’s FALSE sense of safety and security.
      Everytime I hear the safety crap while I watch TSA pull the diapers off a baby or insult a frail elder with a knee replacement I grit my teeth.
      Life is not safe and life is not fair.
      We spend a lot of time trying to achieve those 2 goals and that is mostly a good thing.
      Pretending that all this expensive scanning, invasion of personal privacy, and actual psychological damage of those who one is charged with keeping safe is acceptable is horsepunky.
      First- someone will just have to prove they can evade the scan.
      Second- if that false sense of security takes hold again we will see some terrible thing happen.

      I work in a hardware store . I had 2 men lay a pile of items on the counter to check out.
      I looked at the stuff and I looked at them and I looked at the stuff again.
      I finally asked them why they thought I should sell them those things.
      One asked me why not.
      “Well- buster buns, the only thing you are short of here is something like gunpowder and you’d have a nice tidy lil pipe bomb.”

      After much fooling around and credential checking and verifiying it turned out they were a test-the-security at federal buildings team in town to see if there were holes in our local building.

      They said no one ever asked them anything when they bought their bits and pieces before a test.

      A real pig would not be at all likely to buy their bits and pieces of whatever all together nor in the open but people need to stay aware and stay awake and not let TSA or anyone else fool em into thinking they are safe.
      Thank heavens for the alert passengers who subdued the shoe bomber hopeful and fooey on invasive body searches and scans of thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of ordinary everyday people at the cost of their sense of self, pocketbook ( we are paying for this crap) .

      pfft on phony safety crap.

    • Connie says:

      I am not concerned about the TSO seeing my “image”. I am concerned about the radiation that is emitted by the scanners. The TSO are not required to wear meters that gauge the radiation levels. Nor are the scanners monitored by radiologists. Folks who have had cancer and others who are more susceptible to skin cancers are at risk. Excessive radiation will do damage to your internal organs and this only takes mere seconds to occur, I will not be the least surprised when 10 years down the road they will find an increase in cancers among the TSO that work the scanners. Most scanners in Europe work by scanning with radio waves and no danger of radiation. Thanks to Chertoff and his cronies we get these crappy machines just so they can line their pockets.
      And to top it off, we are no safer then we ever were, Actually more at risk of being taken out in the long waiting lines.

  32. leenie17 says:

    Wasn’t there something in the news fairly recently that the pat-downs by the TSA were going to be reviewed and made less invasive?

    Or was that just for children?

    • Emily says:

      The pat downs on children do not go high up the thigh to their torso. I wasn’t there but maybe the officer went too high. But children don’t get the full standard.

  33. I’ve just sent an email to my favorite US Senator, Patty Murray. I chose her first because she is a vocal and strident supporter of women’s rights, and people’s rights in general. I’m going to look for a way to send the same email to Janet Napolitano, though I don’t know if it will go further than someone hired to check her email. I just don’t know what we can do. This whole thing makes me feel very helpless.

    * * *
    Dear Senator Murray,

    I’ve signed many petitions that have been sent your way, but today this is just from me. I follow The Mudflats, a blog from Alaska, and the post today has me very upset. I’m including the link to the post written by Shannyn Moore, “Get Raped”. I hope you can take the time to read the article and the comments that include more personal experiences of ordinary people with the TSA.

    It describes her own experience of flying and dealing with the TSA and feeling, that as a rape victim, she has once again been victimized. The authority that the TSA workers have is so far beyond the reality of our need to fly safely. They are not police officers, they are not medical personnel who are trained to touching people. And yet, they are allowed to view images of our bodies or touch us in ways that would count for assault by anyone else. And there is nothing we can do except to decide that we won’t fly.

    I understand that the government is trying to keep us safe as we fly. Our family was on the first plane out of SeaTac after 9/11 on our way to Disneyland. That day, no one questioned the extra security checks, the thorough search of our luggage, not being allowed to carry certain kinds of things. I’ve never felt more safe flying than I did on that trip.

    But the increasing invasion of our privacy is not making any of us feel more safe when we fly. Hearing of rape victims being traumatized, or those recovering from surgery having a new incision prodded, or breast cancer survivors being humiliated or children being touched by strangers only makes people angry. It doesn’t make us feel safe.

    Is there nothing that can be done to ensure our safety without subjecting people who have not committed a crime from being subjected to such an invasion of our privacy just because we want to take a nice family vacation or travel for business? There must be. We live in a country that was founded on personal freedoms and guarantees from unreasonable search and seizure by the government.

    In reading Shannyn Moore’s recent experience, it makes me even more apprehensive about the upcoming trip my husband and I are taking to Walt Disney World. It means going through TSA security on the way there and home, and I dread it. But mostly, it makes me think that the recent assault on women and children by the Republicans passage of legislation (or attempts) has been extended to any person who wants to fly. Unlike unfair legislation, there seems to be nothing we can do about this abuse of power and invasion of our privacy.

    Thank you for listening to me. I really do appreciate having a Senator with your strong and fair voice representing me in Washington.

    Patricia ______

  34. Becominggrace says:

    Feel so bad you had to endure the insane indignities, but applaud the bravery it must have taken to write this frank, informative and moving article.

  35. OzMud says:

    Why isn’t passenger travel inspection up to a public vote? It’s been over ten years – if you try to do the math, the percentage of bomb attempts versus normal flights doesn’t seem really to warrant this continual overreaction.

    I am so, so sorry Shannyn – your unnecessary and most horrific gate experience is the exact reason I have told all of my children NOT to fly to Australia to visit – and the next time I can travel to the US it will be on a boat.

    The Republican party simply put Home Security and TSA in place – no vote – no public discussion – seems to me we should be able to choose if we want to risk letting a bomber on a plane once every 250,000 flights or put millions of passengers through this insane trauma daily.

    Forced pregnancies, forced same sex relationships, forced physical examinations, maybe it’s time we told the Republicans to get the hell out of our bodies – and mean it.

  36. Tim says:

    This behavior by our government is shameful. Thank you for publicizing the pain TSA is causing. They are trampling our rights, and it won’t stop until there is sufficient outrage.

    You wanted so much to be brave? I think you just were.

  37. Oh, Shannyn, you just brought tears to my eyes. I’ve never been raped, but I know women who were – really, I think we all do, whether we know it or not. I’ve been appalled at the power given to the TSA and it is getting worse not better. I’m so thankful that the couple waited to help you after that horrible ordeal. And I hope those TSA agents are ashamed of themselves and had some sleepless nights. I wonder if they ever report what people say to them to their superiors.

    We are travelling across the country in a couple of weeks for a dream vacation. We’ll spend time at Walt Disney World, Universal to see Harry Potter, and a three day cruise on the Disney Dream. The part I dread is flying. And on the way home, we have to change planes so that’s one more time of dealing with the TSA.

    Every time I see video or read of someone’s experience, I get angry. And I remember the time we were returning from Guatemala in 1993, long before 9/11 and the TSA. My husband, in a hurry to make sure we caught our connecting flight, went on through security and I was with my daughters. Our 11 year old was fine but our 14 year old set off the alarms. No belt, no jewelry, nothing in her pockets. The agent (a woman) gave her a once over with the hand held wand – still, the alarm. She said she would have to take her to a private room, and I said, “You’re not taking my daughter anywhere without me!” About that time, Sarah remembered that she was wearing her knee brace that had metal in it. Security smiled, cleared her without further question and we ran to make our flight.

    I’ve thought so many times that the outcome would be completely different now. And I shudder every time I think of it. I’m not looking forward to that part of our trip, but I really want to go, so I’ll try to keep my temper and keep my mouth shut. But it still makes me so angry that women and men and children are being treated as criminals just because they want to get to their destination without driving in a car for extra hours or days.

    It won’t stop until we are willing to protest at the airport or be arrested for refusing this unjust invasion of our privacy.

  38. MelvisB says:

    Your letter needs to be sent to every member of congress, by everyone who reads it. Thank you for the courage to publish it.

  39. sdragon says:

    Oh gulp! Shannyn, I am so sorry. I’m flying for the first time in about 20 years the middle of June. I can’t even begin to say how terrified I am of planes. But even worse is the thought of the airport ordeal. My friends will have to gray tape my big smart ass mouth shut if they want to get me thru security. I’m known to be a bit outspoken, but will have to bite my tongue, literally.

    And we have to switch flights on the way down & the way back. So that’s 4 take offs & 4 landings & 4 airports. It’s 2 months away & I physically shake just thinking about it.
    Just know that by sharing this nightmare, you have given me the strength to do it. As I pass thru the torture chamber, I will be thinking of you.

    Oh and just for you, I won’t be wearing a bra or underwear. And I’m an old lady. I hope the disgusted look on their faces doesn’t make me burst out laughing.

  40. lisa says:

    This happened to me in Australia. I was taken to a room by a woman who apologized the entire time. She was compassionate and kind. I do not sense this type of compassion in the US. TSA workers seem to be on power trips and energized by their new-found “power.” Your post made me cry Shannon. We must find some way to make this right.

  41. GoI3ig says:

    Recently, I was sitting at the gate waiting to board my flight, when a gaggle of TSA operatives showed up at the gate next to mine. I was somewhat intrigued as is was the Juneau flight. I watched them “select” four people from the line as they prepared to board the flight.

    Three of the four were young, attractive women. The three TSA males all watched, as the lone female agent groped the helpless passengers. It was reminiscent of a scene from a bad movie. It was like a gang rape, with the perverted gang looking on.

    The random gate pat down is the TSA version of a flash mob I guess. They re-humiliate passengers who have already been humiliated at least once.

    I felt sorry for the “randomly selected” victims of the TSA. We have truly lost lost the war on terror. When we treat each other this way, the terrorists are the ones who can claim, “Mission Accomplished.”

  42. analaskancitizen says:

    A friend of ours went Outside for knee replacement. When he returned about 10 days after the surgery, they actually probed the incision site. Brought a tuff guy to tears. Whoever is giving these people their instructions should be re-educated and possibly re-employed … or deployed to some military zone border crossing.

  43. Melissa says:

    I am so sorry.

    I will be traveling with my 2 children in a few months and I have to make the decision of what to do. Do I submit my 10 year old daughter to a perverted sneak-peak of an x-ray or do I force her to be inappropriately touched? Do I show my 12 year old son that it is okay to see people unclothed or to paw all over people? Finally, as a mother and survivor what do I do?

    These are my choices in the land of the free.

  44. Gimme-a-break, Sarah says:

    I read a similar story back in mid November:

    My heart goes out to you, Shannyn. I am sorry, sad, and very angry this happened to you; I’m sorry it happens to anyone, and I’m even more sorry that there isn’t a huge public outcry about this kind of BS. What can we do to stop this horrible invasion of privacy? When they first unveiled this pretend security/body invasion stuff last Nov, there was a flurry of publicity on it but since then the media’s been quiet about it. It is outrageous and no one should have to put up with it just because some turd supposedly had explosive materials in his undies. In fact, I’m not sure I even believe that anymore, given government lies and overreach.

    Deep peace to you, Shannyn.

  45. barbara says:

    this is my nightmare. i’m so sorry you had to endure that. i won’t go through the strip search machines. last time i flew from RDU to PHL as we were boarding in Raleigh, i saw the same thing. traveler after traveler submissively entering the strip search machine and going through the paces. i ducked into the line with the normal scanner and went through no problem. but i remember the actual fear i felt as i imagined what would happen when i said i am not going to be strip searched today. your story has done nothing to allay my fear. hugs. you are a survivor.

  46. PollyinAK says:

    Can it get any worse? This is horrible.

    Do other countries have severe airport security measures?

    • Irishgirl says:

      In most parts of Europe, you just have to go through the normal scanners. If it beeps, they will pat you down, but not in the manner that Shannyn experienced.

  47. WakeUpAmerica says:

    Osama wins, we lose. Tears of sadness and anger running down my face. You have more courage than I have.

  48. Diane says:

    I was in tears, but not because I was raped. I can’t even imagine having to go through that. My pain was shorter in duration.
    I have not flown since the new pat downs were in place.
    My neurosurgeon flew me to Washington DC to get a second opinion. This was when they had a 10 mile perimeter from Washington when passage rs could not get up during the last 10 miles till DC.
    I told the stewardess I had severe leg cramps and had to stand if they got bad. She told me to raise my hand and she would come to me BUT NOT TO GET UP.
    I had severe leg cramps, raised my hand and she didn’t show up. I was in tears by the time we landed.

    Then I hear republicans say, If we fought a war in a country and won, we should take their oil, or the donald, ‘we should just invade libya and take their oil’, or we should kill them all before they kill us.
    And I think, OBL doesn’t have to lift a finger, the republicans are creating the terrorists for him.

    What a sick country we live in, where survivors and people in pain are reduced to tears just because they need to fly.

  49. Ivan says:

    how long before our homeland STASI starts to pull people from the line to be whisked away to a room and never be heard from again. ? detained? executed?

    vee see that you are opposed to the corporations excess profits. vee can not allow zis.

    whats next torture , oh wait Her Bush/Cheaney already gave us that in the name of Jesus.

  50. Ndjinn says:

    I am very upset for you. I have played it in my head to be strong and brave like you when presented with the same choice. I worked (VERY past tense) for the TSA at ANC. I lasted 6 months. During some training I walked through a checkpoint with inert C4 (explosive), detonator, switch and the next day quit.

    What was a running joke is now an agency that is hurting people.

    I am so sorry Shannyn.

  51. Mark says:

    Don’t put up with this unconstitutional garbage! It’s all worthless security theater that does nothing to keep you “safe”. Boycott Flying ENTIRELY until sanity returns! Please join us on Facebook:

    • Waay Out West says:

      Boycotting flying does not work if you live in Hawaii. There is literally no other way to get off the rock, even just to go to another rock.

  52. Zyxomma says:

    I haven’t flown since the new “security” measures were added, but know I’ll have to. I’ll have to endure this crap, too, since I WON’T go through the X-ray scanner. The radiation from being aloft I’m willing to put up with, but I’m going to live a long time, and the scanners they’re using cause cancer. I’d rather live without it. Too bad I can’t take trains to all the places I have to go. So sorry Shannyn. Health and peace.

    • barbara says:

      i will not either and not just because of the potential health risks. i do not consent for total strangers who are not medically qualified to view my unclad body. and i will not willingly do anything that furthers the financial comfort of Michael Chertoff.

  53. Sally says:

    I am sorry that the US has come to this, but what are the alternatives? Obama was blasted over the underwear nut, and if and when another plane is taken hostage, then what? When kindergartners in Texas are carrying loaded guns to school, we have a huge problem. When terrorists are busy trying to find ways around whatever system is in place, how do we protect people? It is horrible what you went through, and I don’t fly so hopefully will never be put in the situation, but I ask again, what should we do to protect honest citizens? Bin Laden said after 9-11 that the US would go down economically, and he has been proven right. But we have given up something far more important than cash: our dignity and right to personal privacy.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      We take back our lives.
      We don’t let fear dog every step.
      We pay attention to what is going on around us and we live our lives.
      We sure as heck do not hand over management of that fear to corporate creeps who make tons o bucks on selling scan machines, fence materials for the borders, guns, and all.
      If we herd all ourselves into one big barn and pay someone to watch over us, to protect us, to keep us safe we have truly lost to pigs like Osama Bin Laden.
      The economic crisis was our own doing, not Bin Laden’s- don’t give him power he doesn’t have.
      Take up your own power.
      Live each of your days
      until there are no more.
      Please don’t sit alone and afraid.
      The human world is always a mess.
      This is just our set of messes.

  54. Geri says:

    Easy to say ,” I would shower and still be me.” Now imagine yourself beat to the ground, held down and raped over and over, beaten and hurt some more, naked, bleeding your life ripped apart like your body, laughed at, left and broken. Spare me your “pissed.. my friends…but me”. Do what you can in the world but don’t forget your experiences are not the same as many other women. You are just too smug.

    • Juneaudream says:

      Geri..not smug..old and a survivor. My life experiences..are indeed..not those of the ..curr. crop of urban and suburban women. Your suggestions as to an imagined one that too many women..through time..HAVE survived, culture, by culture by culture…..and crawled back to personhood. If women..through time..had not been capable of giving birth during conflict, seeing family members flayed and shot and beated and beheaded the human population..would have ..withered upon the genetic vines..and the world would have a different set of trails, and footfalls..coursing through it now. Let me suggest you consider women who have lived through war..from time immemorial. Pick the war Geri..and the ..time frame..and then..consider the entire range of that time. Perhaps that will allow you to see/understand..the way I look at things. will simply..nettle you..I cannot say. This I a ..further decoding a woman..who’s not..resonate with you..which comes from out of a life experience with cultures and several generations who have lived close, taught, learned and a matter of culture pride..and strength. Peace.

      • Geri says:

        I have survived what I described. I honor your wisdom and compassion, but felt your comment ignored the panic that lingers long long after the attacks and violently surfaces when some stranger gets to grope your body. Your words,”If I were gang raped in the street I would Get a shower and be pissed… but me.” Still sound like shit to me.

  55. DF says:

    Shannon, I’m so sorry to hear how this effected you! I want to also thank you for bringing this scenario to our attention. Not all of us understand the sensitivity of airline security “victims”. I suppose most of us simply accept it and just hanker to get through it.

    What can we do to help eliminate this kind of pain? I don’t like being touched in this manner and I’m sure others don’t. But, many of us don’t have past experience that would turn this GIGANTIC invasion of privacy into abuse. There must be something that we can do.

  56. Ripley in CT says:

    Jesus, Shannyn. This makes my stomach turn. My heart goes out to you and all the other women who must endure this invasion of privacy, as well as personal space and are made to revisit trauma. It’s PTSD you suffered there. This is just another reason for me not to fly. I can’t imagine someone doing that to me, either, for similar though not same, reasons. I’m so sorry.

  57. Juneaudream says:

    I know a good many..who have the personal responce you had..and for reasons that combine..a number of ‘situations’..that are the same,/similar or ..would/have..created the emotions..that have damaged your sense of Self. My heart..aches for how..this has ..affected you. 73..I am..from another culture..and experience. We bathed nude in the old Finn sauna..with both family and friends, my body image..was always one of body. My ability to say..what happened ..inviolate. Once the needs for scans and all the rest..rose from the sociatal concerns..I found I had no such fear/concern/timidity..and..wondered at that. I think it goes back to having grown up on trap lines..and learning to bushwhack through Cascade slopes..and break off branches to use as a walking stick..when poking up and down slopes..a tad too steep. I ..protect self. That said..I carried that sense of..self my teens/college students, I carried that outward..for children I birthed. Strong..primal..watching out..for the family, the extended family..and..the clan. Now..I see/experience all a mere ‘blip’ it is helping prevent a maniac..from blowing up a plane..with all the others who may be on it with me. Is MY body..being violated? No. I fully space, their space..and the idea of..watching out for..all those in line with me. Others may older woman..with one arm set of hippy bangles, a touch more mascara, a nice dollap of Dune fragrance on..and a good book to flight. I see my outer buffalo robes or bark shelters..of cedar and branches..smoke the top of my head..and I see me..looking the Family of Man..passing all around me. Raped? Never my friends..never..I ‘own’ me..because of the ..Cultural strength..passed on from women with ..strong self identity. If I were..gang raped in a street..I would shower and still be ME! friends..but..ME!

  58. Laurie says:

    Shannon….as someone who has experienced sexual abuse, I identified with this post. I have had such a difficult time, getting my husband to understand my behaviour in airports. My fear is palpable, and often it rears its head as anger. Its so awkward, but the only thing that happens is the airport security, makes sure to thoroughly examine me. At almost 60 years old…5’1″ and 104 lbs…I am truly scary I suppose.

    This post made me cry. Its unfortunately, the story of many women, some of whom cannot verbalize it. Thank you.

  59. Dagian says:


    Oh honey, I’m so sorry. What happened was obscene and outrageous. It takes real courage to write about it.

    Have you sent a letter to the Washington Post? Please consider doing so!

    • carol says:

      Where this should go is to Begich, Murkowski, Young, to start. I’m flying next Friday, will the scanner see my recent hysterectomy scar? Do they want to see my bare belly to see if I’m hiding some thing there? We’ll see. Note to self, don’t wear an underwire bra. Someone, somewhere, in this imagninative, problem solving nation, should be able come up with a better solution.

      • carol says:

        Israel comes to mind, they have done things that wouldn’t be accepted here. Why not?
        There’s more, but I don’t know how to copy and paste multiple links.

        • I’d much prefer a detailed interview with airport security and bomb-sniffing dogs to what our TSA has turned into.

          • Zyxomma says:

            Don’t forget, we have elected (and former) officials with a financial interest in the cancer-causing X-ray machines.

          • jojobo1 says:

            You got that right Pat.Shannyn I am so very sorry you had to endure what you did..WE should not have to endure those kind of searches.That is reserved for jails and prisons.I am so Glad I do not fly anymore and that when I did the restrictions 6 years ago were not that bad.The terrorist have won when we let fear rule us so things like this seem normal to others.

        • physicsmom says:

          This is a common meme: Israel has all the answers. However, I’ve seen an Israeli security guy on MSNBC say that those techniques just cannot be scaled up to accomodate the number of airports and amount of travel in the US. He says Israel only has two airports and less than 50 flights per day (I don’t remember the exact numbers, but they are small). America needs to come up with completely new ways of protecting passengers while not denying them Constitutional rights to privacy and protection from unreasonable searches. It’s a failure of imagination and entrenched interests (as Pat says) that keep us looking down the same paths of x-ray and grope.

  60. leenie17 says:


    We’re given three unacceptable choices:

    1. Have our bodies violated in great detail by x-ray to complete strangers and, potentially, to millions of people on the internet.

    2. Be groped and sexually assaulted by people in uniform who are NOT medical professionals or sworn law enforcement officers.

    3. Not fly.

    You’re absolutely right…the terrorists have won.

  61. Molly says:

    I don’t get how ordinary civilian workers can just go along with doing invasive body searches, like they were “just following orders”…….oh yeah, now I get it.

    I think I fully understand now why Sharon Cissna took the ferry instead.

    Thank you for writing this, Shannyn.

  62. 10catsinMD says:

    So sad this happened. I am getting to fly to and from Seattle. Hope it goes ok. I have thought about this. I don’t want the touchy stuff either.

  63. Leota2 says:

    This is what we have come to . . .So sorry Shannyn.

  64. Irishgirl says:

    I read this a few days ago (ADN) and it made me cry. No one should have to undergo that. It is just WRONG.
    Take care Shannyn.

  65. CAAZ says:


    I am so sorry for the experience you had. God bless you for sharing with us all.

  66. Dan says:

    Powerful, well-written article. I feel terrible for you, and you are right. Bin Laden seems to have taken ‘the rest of our lives’. We suffer through all this and cargo continues to go through unexamined, sitting inches below us on the plane. Makes no sense at all.

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