taking “upskirt” photos and/or other creepshots of people without their consent is perfectly legal in the capital, as women should have no expectation of privacy in a public place.
It reminded me of this un-finished post in my draft folder about how I witnessed a guy taking creepshots during my vacation on Jersey. And the question: What do you do, when you witness something like that? So, here’s the story.
I was on the bus back to St. Helier one day. At the front of the Jersey buses there are seats which can be easily folded away to make space for a wheelchair or a parent with stroller and such. These seats are facing the aisle and thus each other. I was sitting in the first row of the regular seats facing front. On my side of the bus, one of these seats facing the aisle was occupied by a boy, probably about 16 years old, wearing headphones and playing with his phone. Because of the seating arrangements he was in my line of view, whenever I looked up. I wasn’t looking on his phone screen intentionally, rather the opposite, as I hate it, when I feel like people are looking over my shoulder when I’m using my phone myself in crowded spaces.
At one point I had dropped my camera’s sleeve and was trying to figure out if it had slipped under the boy’s seat, so I looked up and down and around him, trying to do it kind of stealthily :-) While I did that I noticed that he held his phone at a weird angle. When I did look at his phone’s screen after all, I realised that he was secretly taking photos of the young woman sitting on the other side of the aisle, facing him. She was wearing shorts which had ridden up when she had sat down. So she sat there completely barelegged. And that teen boy across from her was secretly zooming in on her naked thighs and her crotch. I think he was taking photos, but I’m not really sure. Well, I actually, I’m quite sure he did! Creep!
At first I had no idea what to do! At all! I got nervous and kind of upset and mad. And he wasn’t even taking these photos of me! So, what to do? If you know me just a little bit, you know that I’m rather timid and shy around (new) people. I can do small talk and all, but if it’s about asking or even demanding something, anything, from anyone, I’m a nervous wreck more often than not. Of course, I could have just ignored it, acting like it wasn’t really my problem and just leave it be. But I also knew that I would beat myself for being timid in that particular situation.
So, I tapped the guy on the shoulder and said something like “You know, it’s not ok, what you’re doing!” He seemed to not understand me at first, probably because he still had his headphones on, but maybe because he just didn’t want to understand. I repeated what I had said and he took of his headphones and still feigned ignorance. Only after I told him I could see his phone’s screen and told him once again that that this is not ok, he started mumbling something about “nothing serious, just a joke” etc. I can’t remember what he said exactly, because at this point I was so nervous and jittery. Rebuking a stranger in a foreign language does that to you. To me at least. He started apologizing politely, because British people sound so maddening polite whatever they say. I replied, that it’s not me that he needs to apologize to and I think that was the end of it. The young woman was about to get off the bus at this point and I think she had neither noticed the creepshots nor that the boy and I were talking about it.
The whole experience left me rather wound up, I admit. The remaining time on the bus I was replaying that encounter over and over and was wondering if I should have said more, made more of a scene, put the guy on the spot (which I know I wouldn’t have because that would have put myself on the spot just as much). Should I have asked/demanded of him to delete the photo(s)? Maybe. But I honestly didn’t even think of that in that moment.
I have no idea if what I said made a difference to the guy at all. He went back to playing a game on his phone or maybe he put it away, I’m not sure anymore. He might have kept the photos after all and shared them with his buddies and made fun of the girl or did whatever he did take these creepshots for in the first place. Ugh, I don’t want to follow that line of thinking. He might also have a good laugh telling his mates about this stupid tourist lady who thought she could tell him off doing whatever he felt like doing. But maybe, just maybe, he will remember my “it’s not ok” if he ever gets the idea of taking a creepshot of somebody else. And that “maybe” alone was worth the whole nerve wrecking experience for me.
FYI: I neither want to discuss what constitutes a creepshot nor how anyone should/must dress in public. I just believe that – as basic rule – no one should be allowed to intentionally take secret photos of anyone else. And definitely not photos zooming in on private parts.