Sometimes, sexual assault really is about power

Try doing this in a social setting, and you’d get your ass kicked:

On April 20, 2014, the plaintiff was making her way through a second security screening point when  guard spotted the feminine hygiene product partially exposed in her pocket.  The woman was told she would have to get a “CCA-approved” pad instead.  An annoying, but not terribly unreasonable requirement.

At this point, however, the male guard, along with another male guard standing beside him, told her, “But I’ll have to make sure you are — I’ll have to make sure you are actually —”

The male guards called over a female guard at the point, who upon arrival, asked what was going on.  Jane Doe responded that she was on her period, to which the female guard sarcastically responded with “oh, great,” before walking into a restroom.

According to the lawsuit, once inside the restroom, the plaintiff asked the guards what they wanted her to do, to which another female guard responded “show me.”

The female guard stood infront (sic) of Jane Doe at this point, as the first female guard stood by the bathroom door and the two male guards waited outside the door.

The plaintiff then asked again, what the guard wanted to do, to which the guard responded with, “What do you think? Show me!”

Jane Doe then exposed her pelvic area and the guard squatted down so she was eye level with the woman’s vaginal area.  Once the guard was satisfied that the woman was in fact on her period she was finally permitted to exit the bathroom and go have her visit.

It gets worse:

According to the lawsuit, the woman who has chosen to be identified only as “Jane Doe,” due to the embarrassing nature of the incident, offered to leave the prison and was not permitted to.  She also claims to have offered to leave the pad behind and end her visit early if she needed to change it, urinate in the toilet without flushing and show them her menstrual blood in the bowl, or show guards her used menstrual pad- and all of these reasonable compromises were denied.

Instead, she was sent into a bathroom stall where she was forced to drop her pants and underwear to allow a female guard to examine her vagina in violation of her Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches.

The woman says she called and spoke with the head of security at the prison the day after her visit, concerned about being subjected to another degrading search if she returned for another visit during that time of the month, and was told that strip searches of menstruating visitors were standard policy there.

This clusterfuck had nothing to do with prison security. There is no evidence that Jane Doe was attempting to smuggle contraband or that any of the guards suspected her of smuggling contraband. This let-me-watch-you-bleed strip search was a naked power grab by tinpot quasi-state actors. For what it’s worth, Spc. Charles Graner, the Abu Ghraib sexual humiliation creep, had been a prison guard in Pennsylvania before he became a prison guard in Iraq.

If the Tennessee guards had been mere menstrual fetishists, they might have placed a hidden camera in the women’s restroom, and some visitor might have discovered that an AV perv had filmed her with her pants down. Ironically, this much less intrusive invasion of privacy would almost certainly have resulted in an immediate criminal investigation on account of its having nothing to do with the prison’s visitor search protocol. It wouldn’t have mattered that the distress caused by the hidden camera would have been contingent upon the victim discovering it or discovering images retrieved from it on the internet. A lot of dirtbags curate surreptitious footage of a lot more unsuspecting victims of hidden bathroom cameras for the online gratification of sexually adrift losers, but unless the intrusion is discovered by the victims or their acquaintances, it’s functionally no harm, no foul. I’ve been told that there may be some embarrassing footage of me at Philadelphia-area drinking parties floating around on YouTube, and I’ve seen some of the embarrassing still photos from similar parties on Facebook, but I certainly don’t trawl the internet looking for that crap. There are dipshits who get off on that sort of paparazzi horseshit; I’ve gone drinking with some of them a few too many times; but if the broader society’s morals and manners aren’t utterly corrupted, it should be possible to pretend that these embarrassing pictures don’t exist. That’s what I try to do, in any event. It seems an equally good course of action for women who are embarrassed that they got undressed in public for some club promoter dirtbag with a film crew on one of the tacky parts of the Gulf Coast: after all, the only way for others to find these compromising images is to poke around the internet looking for dirty pictures.

It’s a lot harder to pretend that one wasn’t held hostage by prison guards and forced to drop trou and let one of them stare at one’s vulva until blood dribbled out, and then be told by a prison official that this assault was more or less in line with the company’s visitor search policy. For one thing, the actual invasion of privacy is much worse, as it involves the removal of clothing under duress from mercenaries acting under state authority. It isn’t just some freelance weirdo discreetly taking a peek.

American sexual mores are deranged, and their derangement aggravates the humiliation of women who are subjected to show-me-the-flow strip searches when they visit loved ones in prison, but the guards knew that what they were doing was extremely abusive and offensive. It’s their fault. They understand the sexual mores that they’re taking advantage of to intimidate visitors. They know that mainstream Americans are squeamish about menstruation. They know that they aren’t dealing with the sort of old-school English peasant girls who bled straight onto the mill floor because, for one thing, they figured the eligible bachelors would find it hawt. It’s exactly this squeamishness that allows them to insinuate that a woman trying to visit a loved one in prison is simultaneously polluted and feigning pollution. It’s the same mindset that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay used to come up with the ruse of smearing fake blood on their fingers so that their pious Muslim prisoners would freak out at the thought that they were being degraded by menstruating infidel whores. This ruse wouldn’t work on inmates who are sexually experienced with women, at peace with their own sexuality, and comfortable around menstrual blood. Like, uhh, is that even blood?

Yeah, sure. I’ll believe you when you drop your undies and show me.

These CCA guards in Tennessee, like the guards at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, are predators who know what buttons to push. They’re immoral and dangerous people. They’re operating at depths of viciousness that Joe Francis has never even thought of exploring. He likes to videotape women who are drunk and eager to show off what they’ve got. The guards, meanwhile, are in the business of sexually abusing visitors on security pretexts.

They’re probably worse to the inmates in their custody.

There’s this hideous American notion that sexual laxity is somehow dignified by the parties to it being under duress or the sheer force of state power. This belief is rarely articulated, since it’s so self-evidently perverted and evil, but it’s there. Prison (or even school) strip search protocols can come completely detached from any credible security concern, but sexually mature teenagers who photograph themselves nude are child pornographers. Todd Akin did more than his part to advocate this sort of belief with his “legitimate rape” comment, in which he inferred a sort of purity of psyche and body on the part of women who are forcibly raped, as opposed to filthy sluts who must enjoy rough sex if it got them pregnant. Akin immediately became a national byword for creepy misogyny, but he also won over a million votes, 39.2% of the total cast, in a three-way race for the US Senate against Claire McCaskill. There’s this enduring, if mostly unspoken, belief that unashamed, noncoercive expression of sexuality, especially by women, is filthy but that sexual degradation of others is acceptable as long as it’s done for a nonsexual reason and under color of authority. Our jailers positively love us for this.

It’s time for Corrections Corporation of America to be sued into liquidation.

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