TSA screener slut-shames 15-year-old girl

daughter-outfit
Mark Fraunfelder’s 15-year-old daughter was at LAX yesterday, trying to board a flight with a group of other students on a trip to visit some colleges. Unfortunately, the U.S. government had decided ahead of time to hire tens of thousands of strangers to intimidate and abuse her (and others) as they blocked the girl’s safe passage to her airplane.

A male TSA screener, who should have been concentrating on checking passenger IDs and boarding passes, was instead glaring at the girl, mumbling. Confused and unable to hear him, she asked, “Excuse me?” He responded: “You’re only 15, COVER YOURSELF!”

For the record, she was wearing leggings and a tank top with a large red-plaid long-sleeved shirt. Most viewers would find her outfit unremarkable, but what she was wearing is beside the point. An adult male, who might easily be mistaken for an authority figure by virtue of the fake badge on his uniform, and who doesn’t even know this young woman, publicly shamed her with a creepy, sexist insult.

What this loser said speaks volumes about his attitudes: he sexualizes young girls and then blames them for his failure to conduct himself honorably. There is an implicit threat in what he said – cover yourself . . . or else?

Or else you might be victimized, and it would be your fault because of how you’re dressed? She’s just a girl, living her life, and this guy presumes to tell her how she should live it differently to accomodate him.

Oh, the irony of screeners professing to be offended by a clothed teenager, after these amoral villains have spent years creating and eyeballing nude images of innocent travelers. Here we have a man who takes money to put his hands down peoples’ pants, who touches the genitalia of adults and children against their will, presuming to lecture a stranger on what is decent.

The TSA didn’t protect Mark Fraunfelder’s daughter. Instead, the agency dished out another dose of the sexual humiliation at which it excels (the only thing at which it excels). The TSA put this lowlife in a uniform and gave him leeway to harass women. This, along with everything else the TSA does, only makes us less safe.

I wish we could publish the name of this airport miscreant; we would if we knew it. Instead, we encourage you again to file your complaints during the last few days of the TSA’s public comment session, here. See what other people have already written, here.

Published by

Sommer Gentry

Sommer Gentry is a mathematician who specializes in Operations Research. Operations Research is the discipline of applying advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions, including optimal allocation of resources and rational responses to risks. She has a B.S. and M.S. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from MIT, and is a tenured Associate Professor of Mathematics.

  • Susan Richart

    Now we know the name of the screener who was the aggressor in this case:

    “A former TSA employee who worked at Los Angeles
    International Airport was arrested Tuesday night after he allegedly made threats to terminals and left a suspicious package at the airport the same day he quit his job, the FBI announced early Wednesday as a bomb squad conducted a search in connection with the investigation.

    “Nna Alpha Onuoha,………….

    “The suspect also was involved in a high-profile case
    in which he allegedly shamed a teen because of her attire, NBC News confirmed. The June “shaming” incident was reported after a blogger wrote about the encounter and posted
    pictures of his 15-year-old daughter in the attire she was wearing at
    the time.

    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Inglewood-Man-Arrested-After-Threats-to-LAX-223252271.html

    Thanks, Mike V., for the link! 🙂

  • Jeremy Smith

    Call me crazy but perverts don’t usually tell their victims to cover up. Isn’t more likely that the guy was just telling the girl to be more modest in her appearance. Cover yourself or else? I don’t know much about people who commit sexual assault but i doubt they warn probable victims to cover themselves. Isn’t it more likely that this man has a daughter or granddaughter and he thought that if they weren’t dressed properly that he’d want someone to tell them?

    When a guy told me fly was undone, I didn’t accuse of him at looking at my crotch. I zipped my pants and said thank you. Not every act is a prelude to some villainous sexual crime, Ms. Gentry.

    • Annapolis2

      I was not suggesting, and I do not suggest, that the screener was imminently a danger to this girl. I’m stating that comments which accuse women of bad behavior when they’re just living their lives contribute to rape culture. Here’s an example of rape culture: the fact that, when reporting the gang rape of an 11
      year old girl, the New York Times chose to print that the victim wore
      “makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s.”

      Please learn about rape culture here: http://www.marshall.edu/wpmu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/

      In particular, note one of the bullet points in a list of elements of rape culture: “Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress”

      • Jeremy Smith

        I doubt his comment had less to do with rape culture and more to do with from being a different generation. I’ve seen the elderly constantly go on about how kids today dress and act. It was just an example of an older generation trying to impose it’s values on a younger one. I don’t think the comment was trying to contribute to any culture except that of an older generation.

        • Susan Richart

          In his position as a representative of the United States government, it was not his place to comment on her state of dress. He might have be expressing his own opinion but he can’t do that when he’s in his pretend-cop clothes.

          • Jeremy Smith

            If representatives of the United States government didn’t reveal their opinions, how do you propose we elect people? I guess we could just look at their faces and make a judgement, hmm?

            The first amendment extends to everyone whether they’re working or not.

          • Susan Richart

            Elected representatives are different than employees of the U.S. Government, such as members of the armed forces, TSA employees, NPS employees and on and on and on.

          • Jeremy Smith

            Really? Besides a pay grade and better benefits, there really isn’t a difference. People express opinions whether they’re working or not. The first amendment doesn’t stop when you clock in for work.

          • The First Amendment simply says that government cannot pass a law that restricts your speech or your right to worship as you see fit. It does not mean there can’t be natural consequences for your speech. If you work in public service, even as a government employee, and you say or do something that is either spelled out in the employee handbook as being prohibited, or offensive in such a way that reasonable people would agree–yes, offensive–you can and will receive disciplinary action commensurate with what you said/did, meaning, warning, suspension, or termination. That’s not a violation of the First Amendment: you’re quite free to say those things until your face is so blue it matches your gloves–just not while on duty. Take it or quit.

          • Susan Richart

            You are sounding more and more like an adolescent.

          • Susan Richart

            While on or off-duty, employees are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does
            not adversely reflect on TSA, or negatively impact its ability to discharge its mission, cause
            embarrassment to the agency, or cause the public and/or TSA to question the employee’s
            reliability, judgment or trustworthiness.

          • Jeremy Smith

            On or off duty? So they should never say anything about anything for fear of how it will reflect on the government. I doubt anyone working for the government is that tight lipped. My grandpa worked for the government and constantly talked about them when he wasn’t working. I’m glad he’s retired. I hate to have to report him.

        • Annapolis2

          And I don’t think you comprehend what rape culture is. Of course no one makes a rude comment out of a deliberate effort to contribute to rape culture. This screener and others like him contribute to rape culture with their offensive comments because they are sexist and ignorant. And people like you contribute to rape culture by excusing sexist and creepy behavior just because the offender is “of an older generation”. Old or young, what that screener said and did is vile and he needs to be disciplined for it.

    • Mr. Smith, he had no business telling her to “cover up.” And her outfit, as you can plainly see in the photograph, is not analogous to an unzipped fly.

      • Jeremy Smith

        I hate to break it to you but the first amendment applies to TSA as well. I agree that he had no business telling her to cover up, but it was his right to do so.

        • Jeremy, thanks for Sophistry 101. Nobody claimed he doesn’t have First Amendment rights. We’re claiming he should’ve STFU.

          • Jeremy Smith

            And yet if it wasn’t TSA specific, you couldn’t care less. Or are you going to open a site for young people to complain about old people?

            This happens all the time. Are you going to rail against elderly folks who try to impose their own values on a younger generation? The only reason you or anyone else cares is because a TSA officer said it and not some old man in the streets.

            If she was slut shamed, I guess I was slut shamed by that woman who told me to pull up my pants.

          • Jeremy, you must have superhuman abilities in order to get inside my mind and tell me what I would or would not care about, complain about, or “rail against.”

            The wonders of my fellow homo sapiens never cease to amaze!

            (Oh, and by the way, the name of this blog is TSA News.)

          • Jeremy Smith

            I thought it was the TSA Complaint Board because someone lecturing a young person isn’t news. It happens everyday and has happened since the beginning of time.

            Or was that news to you?

          • Susan Richart

            I presume she was not wearing the uniform of a TSA screener.

          • Jeremy Smith

            No, but I didn’t ask where she worked so you never know.

          • “Elderly folk” or not, the TSA screener is a public servant, paid with our tax dollars, working in that capacity when he issued his offensive order. It would be no less inappropriate and offensive if a young woman behind the desk at the DMV had said this to anyone who was not her own child.

          • Jeremy Smith

            They also pay taxes to the government which guarantees their first amendment right. Unless the government is going to contest the rights of it’s own employees, they are well within they’re rights to say whatever they want.

          • I wrote this below; I’ll repost it here, because you clearly don’t get it.

            The First Amendment simply says that government cannot pass a law that
            restricts your speech or your right to worship as you see fit. It does
            not mean there can’t be natural consequences for your speech. If you
            work in public service, even as a government employee, and you say or do
            something that is either spelled out in the employee handbook as being
            prohibited, or offensive in such a way that reasonable people would
            agree–yes, offensive–you can and will receive disciplinary
            action commensurate with what you said/did, meaning, warning,
            suspension, or termination.

            That’s not a violation of the First
            Amendment: you’re quite free to say those things until your face is so
            blue it matches your gloves–just not while on duty.

            Take it–accept the rules of your job as a public servant–or quit, and critique young women’s attire to your heart’s content. Well, as long as your luck holds out.

    • Susan Richart

      Aren’t you the 15-year old who was calling a screener in her 60’s an “old lady?”

      I can see that you still don’t understand.

      • Jeremy Smith

        Huh? Another person talking down to a youngster. Why does this seem familiar?

        I can see you don’t know how old I am.

  • RonBonner

    There are about 314 million people in the United States. I understand there are always a few bad apples in any population. Seems we have about 65,000 (.02%) in ours.

    Funny how they all work for TSA.

  • Chris Bray

    I think this was reasonable behavior. Look, if you’re the first guy at the TSA checkpoint, you know that an underage girl is about to run a gauntlet of sexual abuse managed by leering pedophiles and wannabe rapists. Andrew Cheever was a TSA officer at Boston Logan until his child porn conviction. Randall Scott King was a TSA officer at the Atlanta airport until his rape conviction. When Thomas Harkins was defrocked as a priest for sexually abusing young girls, he got a job with the TSA. It’s a GED-optional job with lots of authority, a chance to run your hands up strangers’ thighs until you meet glorious “resistance,” and limited background checks. You can do things that usually land you on Megan’s List, but you have a government uniform — that makes it legal.

    The organization all but has a flashing red light on top of it that says, “Sex criminals welcome here.”

    So yes, I’d be concerned about a fifteen year-old girl going through a TSA checkpoint under any circumstances. The TSA officer in this story just had the self-awareness to realize that he and his co-workers are the scum of the earth, and he reacted appropriately.

  • medicine

    It is incredible what these TSA screeners are taught to do to navigate around people’s bodies day after day, year after year, slowing down lines, with their blue-gloved hands, repeating the motions if the person steps back because the agent got too close to their junk, parting hair to see if some sort of (what?) device has been rigged. What are they expecting to find by running the hand between the breasts? It’s obvious even watching a video, unless the device is invisible, there is nothing there. It all looks so ridiculous, and useless, and of course, we all know that it’s about conditioning the public to submit to authority. As far as I know TSA has never caught a terrorist yet. As if a terrorist would be stupid enough to get on the plane with all his or her stuff. I notice that in other countries, it’s the police who actually catch terrorists, or potential terrorists. http://www.adnkronos.com/IGN/Aki/English/Security/Italy-Police-arrest-Moroccan-blogger-for-plotting-Jihad_32288511447.html

    Basic police work, not all the insane bs that’s going on in America today. But then the people running the country today in Wash DC are clinically insane.

  • Dolt

    The comments on several other sites with this story make me want to give up on society. Do people not get what is happening? It’s not a friend, family member or teacher giving her this lecture. It’s a damn government agent. The Huffington Post even mentions in their post on this story about another previous story with a girl told she was dressed inappropriately at school. They want to pretend that the problem with this story is being told how to dress, which isn’t the point here. The point is that NO ONE – male, female, young, old – Not a single damn person should have their attire commented on by the government. I cite 1st Amendment, Mission creep, and just creep in general. Just unbelievable. This infuriates me.

  • Daniel

    I saw this on Yahoo. Most of the comments were talking about how stupid the father was for complaining and letting his daughter out in public dressed in a way that would generate complaints:http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/tsa-officer-shames-teen-for-wearing-leggings–dad-s-got-this–192409505.html#

    It was grotesque. All I could help thinking was, what if it’s your daughter?

    • Of course; it’s the same attitude expressed by people who blame rape victims. “What was she wearing??” “What did she expect??” “She asked for it!”

      All I can hope is that such people get the comeuppance they so richly deserve.

  • Eric Hodgdon

    Harassment and abuse of women never ends, does it? I’ve too many decades reading about the degeneracy of men and what they inflict on women, and it sickens me more each time.

    Now we have state-sponsored harassment/terrorism.

    • Enaylius

      Harassment knows no gender, creed etc. Happens to everyone. Harassment and bullying is universally bad. Here’s the canned response from our overlords “TSA officers are trained and expected to perform screening methods in a
      dignified and respectful manner at all times. We work to make our
      screening procedures as minimally invasive as possible while providing
      the highest level of security for the traveling public.

      We regret that this passenger had an unpleasant experience and are in the process of thoroughly reviewing the circumstances” Source- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/17/mark-frauenfelder-daughter-tsa-humiliated-_n_3454322.html

      • Sonja

        Harassment knows no gender, creed, unless you are in total head to toe coverings known as the Niqab, or half of that the hijab or a turban, then it apparently matters as ‘racial profiling’. Otherwise, upstanding citizens, teenagers, babies, elderly, handicapped can be humiliated without restraint. This is purely ‘conditioning’,

        • Sonja

          I would never allow my child to be molested by a stranger, perhaps causing future psychological harm. This is why we don’t fly and have not since the TSA started their tactics. Yes, Disneyland is off limits, but it’s ok since we can take them to BBQ’s and the river, sailing on local lakes and change the ideal of what life is.
          I would have thought that airline boycotts would have been felt across the airline industry, but no, since they are subsidized by government and never create a profit anyway. In any case, there is NO WAY my kids will be molested by TSA perverts in my lifetime.

        • enaylius

          ???? Did I say something bad? *confused*