Thursday, November 25, 2010

Menstruation and the TSA

Joe Sharkey @ New York Times via Dark Politricks:
I’m getting a lot of questions about the new security regime, including some pointed ones from women. Do the imagers, for example, detect sanitary napkins? Yes. Does that then necessitate a pat-down? The T.S.A. couldn’t say. Screeners, the T.S.A. has said, are expected to exercise some discretion.
A traveler writes Gladrags about her experience with that "discretion":
This email isn’t going to be as polished as I would normally send, but I’m upset and I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else (if I can stop it).

I recently traveled via air, and was subjected to that new scanning device. “No problem,” I thought. I was wearing jeans and a linen tanktop, bra, panties, and one camouflage pantyliner.

I’m a rule follower, so I never have any problems at the airport. Not this time. I was stopped, and then held for 15 minutes while they tried to find a female supervisor. I couldn’t get to my bag, my shawl or my shoes; just standing there while the TSA agents kept me in one place.

Now, I don’t want this to be about bad TSA agents; they were doing their job, they were as delicate as they could be, etc., etc. But what ultimately happened is that I was subjected to search so invasive that I was left crying and dealing with memories that I thought had been dealt with years ago of prior sexual assaults.


Because of my flannel panty-liner. These new scans are so horrible that if you are wearing something unusual (like a piece of cloth on your panties) then you will be subjected to a search where a woman repeatedly has to check your “groin” while another woman watches on (two in my case – they were training in a new girl – awesome).

So please, please, tell the ladies not to wear their liners at the airport (I didn’t even have an insert in). I’m a strong, confident woman; I’m an Army vet (which is why those camo liners crack me up), I work full-time and go to graduate school full-time, I have a wonderful husband, and I don’t take any nonsense from anyone. I don’t dramatize, and I don’t exaggerate. I’m trying to give you a sense of who I am so you won’t think that this is a plea for attention, or a jumping on the bandwagon about the recent TSA proposed boycott.

I just don’t want another woman to have to go through the “patting down” because she didn’t know that her glad-rag would be a matter of national security.


  1. With all that I've read about the TSA these last few days, I think that this is just too much. So I guess we should also avoid nursing pads? I wonder how they would react to a wet shirt due to lactating?

  2. thelazymama - that would depend on how many ounces of fluid the shirt contained!

  3. If I was being checked wearing a pad I'd happily take it off and slap it down on the table for them to "check". Maybe they'd have some sense when faced with dealing with people's bodily fluids. :)

  4. Tell women not to wear them? Absolutely not! I really hope you reported the incident.
    I'm so sorry you had to go through this. We have to fight back against the ridiculousness and invasiveness that TSA is pushing or we'll all end up naked... seriously.

  5. I agree with Rana! Pretty soon people will be dropping their pants and speeding their butt cheeks like prisoners! INSANITY!

  6. I wonder what would happen if one was wearing a Diva Cup?? Damn. I don't know that I'll ever want to fly's just too much.

  7. I agree with B and Rana--I'd just take the pad off and show it to them and tell them to check away at it. They need the embarrassment shoved right back in THEIR faces for their humiliation tactics--against innocent people who just want to TRAVEL. So much for "free to move about the country."

  8. my understanding is that the body scans cannot detect anything inside of the body (like a diva cup or tampon)- which is one of the reasons why i feel like they are a waste of time. a person who is determined to do harm to others would no doubt think nothing of eating something or shoving it up somewhere.

    i am sorry for your experience! we travel in a few days and i due to start my cycle...hmmm.

  9. I suspect that there is a risk of them finding the diva cup while doing the groping search.