“Taking off your bra for national security”

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That’s the title of this story at Broadsheet (NB: You may have to watch an ad and then click “enter Salon” to read it). Below is an excerpt:

… According to the Associated Press, [Lori] Plato set off security alarms when she and her husband were entering a federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene. Plato told the AP that the U.S. Marshals Service not only asked Plato to remove her bra but gave her no viable options for doing so with any measure of privacy: “I asked if I could go into the bathroom because they didn’t have a privacy screen and no women security officers were available. They said, ‘No.'” Plato told the AP that when she placed her bra on the security conveyor belt, “One of the officers said, ‘It’s a girl.'” A statement from the U.S. marshal in Boise accused Plato of exaggerating the brahaha, claiming that she could have removed her bra in her car or visited the ladies room of a local restaurant. Plato countered that she was parked on a busy street and was unfamiliar with the city’s businesses.

Are undergarments now considered a danger to security? The U.S. marshal spokesman seemed less than certain, reportedly telling the AP: “I don’t think they’re considered a weapon, really, the last time I looked.”

On a scale of gender injustices, bra removal doesn’t rate high, but it’s interesting to note that Plato’s experience of being humiliated before a gang of smirking security guards is hardly anomalous in this age of increased security concerns. In 2003 a Northwest Airlines flight attendant sued the Massachusetts Port Authority after her underwire bra triggered an airport metal detector in Logan Airport, and security guards searched her and compelled her to partially undress. According to several blogs that reposted the story, as security machines are turned up to ever higher levels of sensitivity, belts and underwire bras are setting off alarms more frequently. In a 2004 story from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, several women complained of being traumatized by intrusive security searches. …

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0 Responses to “Taking off your bra for national security”

  1. Ralph M. Stein says:

    What this incident amply illuminates is the combination of a dearth of common sense among the less than highly skilled security types and an exaggerated and useless focus on searches that have little hope of achieving true heightened security. While the smirking and alleged comments are sexist, the underlying motivation is CYA and that is making life more difficult for millions with no return benefits.

  2. Eric says:

    Are the U.S. Marshals Service now hiring 12-year-old boys for courthouse security gigs? If there were such a thing as “underwire boxer shorts”, does anyone seriously imagine that a man would ever be asked to remove them, then and there, at the security checkpoint?