Of Course Women Are Getting Sexually Harassed by Drones


As the old saying goes, “If you build it, the forces of patriarchy will co-opt it in order to make women harassed, threatened and/or sexually objectified.” And so it is: earlier this week, a woman took to Reddit in order to describe her experiences being sexually harassed by a remote-operated drone.

Per the Daily Dot, a woman writing under the username Forthelulzaccount posted a story about being harassed on a “private, residential beach” in Virginia. She and her mother were sunbathing, she says, when she heard a strange sound overhead:

We heard this whirring noise above us and I looked up and saw a remote-controlled plane—one of the square ones that can move really articulately in all directions. No big deal. I turned back down and napped more.
Then I noticed: a. It was getting really close to women. Like, straight up in their asses close, flying really low, staying there for probably three minutes at a time, and b. it had a camera on it.

In an email, she told the Daily Dot that the drone, which was two-foot-by-two-foot, was “clearly making other women at the beach uncomfortable,” probably because it was hovering around their asses for three minutes at a time.

When it approached her, she went to throw her water bottle at it. It backed up, which indicated to her that the operator was nearby, which was a correct assumption — she soon noticed a middle-aged man and a teenager, presumably his son, sitting up on the dunes and holding a remote. The middle-aged man was giving the teenager instructions. Because nothing says “wholesome family bonding” like taking your offspring to the beach and instructing him in the ways of chauvinist male pig-ism (“You see, son, their visible discomfort doesn’t matter, because we are 100% entitled to the bodies of every woman alive! If they didn’t want people videotaping them without their permission, they would just never leave the house!”).

She confronted them:

I walked up to the older man and said “That is seriously creepy.”
“You flying around your creep drone is really fucking creepy.”
“It isn’t going to hurt you.” He sort of laughed at me now, and I saw red here.
“I’m not worried about my PERSONAL SAFETY, though I am now worried a bit for YOURS. Your drone is creepy and violating. You need to take it out of the air, or I will.”
“Fine, it won’t go near you”
“No, I need it out of the sky. Now. You are violating every woman on this beach. Get it out of the sky.”

He and his creep-in-training son departed, leaving her feeling violated and angry. She updated the post to elaborate on this: “Being looked at is one thing… This isn’t what that’s about. It’s about the fact that we were RECORDED without PERMISSION as sexual objects. If this fellow had asked (I would have told him I wasn’t comfortable with it) then that would be different.”

This is far from the first time concerns about technologically-advanced peeping Toms have been raised: last year, for instance, a woman in Seattle reported seeing an aerial drone with a camera attached hovering outside of her window, prompting concerns about the “legal grey area” surrounding surveillance drones; a few months later, a privacy watchdog agency in Norway warned that the technology has the potential to be abused in the future. But, as Aaron Sankin at the Daily Dot points out, “the technology has moved far faster than regulators’ ability to come up with new laws that apply to drones, leaving the country’s patchwork of state and federal drone regulations a confusing mess.”

As of now, nine states have passed laws limiting drone use on privacy grounds (and four more are considering similar legislation). But even with laws in place, assholes always seem to find a way to violate women’s boundaries in public.

Image via Getty.

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