I was in a recent conversation on Face book this article about how a man’s up skirt photos didn’t violate a woman’s right to privacy. For me the conversation involved telling my friend (a woman) that I could see the judge’s point. If you are wearing a skirt and positioned in such a way that someone form a certain angle could see up your skirt then you shouldn’t expect what is up your skirt to be private from that angle. It’s kind of like wearing a low-cut shirt and then telling people telling people your cleavage is private. I would also point out that what is taken as photos up a skirt is no different from what one would see if you were in a bikini at a beach. I have never understood a woman who will wear a bikini to the beach and then get all in a huff because some guy sees her in her bra and panties. The parts covered are the same. What the case covers (oh, and the judge was a woman) is that there is a measure of personal responsibility to maintain your personal privacy. If your going to wear a skirt in public there are certain ways you have to carry yourself so no guy sees up it. Personally, I think the guy was rude (for not asking to take photos of someone), and probably creepy, but I don’t think in this particular case he violate the law.
Now this incident aside what it got me to thinking about privacy and asking a question – Is privacy really a right? Now in the US many people have used the fourth amendment about illegal searches and seizing of property to indicate some right to privacy. Row v. Wade made its central case on the right to privacy. In this country there is some expectation of a right to privacy but the amendment really only talks about the right of individual to have some ‘privacy’ from government interference, what has always been sticky is what right to privacy do I have from private individuals and organizations outside the government? I mean the amendment really does not cover that idea at all if you read it so the question has always revolved around what the government can do to enforce private privacy. I think this is why the above case ultimately failed because the nightmare of enforcement would ensue as the government would end up violating a lot of people’s right to privacy to enforce other people’s right to privacy.
But the question remains – Do we really have a an inherent right to privacy as human beings? One of the ways to test this idea is to throw ourselves on a desert island and see if it would work in such a setting. In this case lets throw roughly twenty people on a desert island. To make this interesting and more about privacy let’s also postulate that everyone when they arrive is naked. If privacy is a right, then how at this point would it play out. Well, some would probably try to hide to keep their private parts private but others would simply deal with it and try to function. The basic problem of saying privacy is a right at this point is no one has established a place to live and clothing simply has not had time to be manufactured. People would have to get used to being naked at least at first to function. Some might pull and Adam and Eve and make some grass skirts but that points out that in order to get some basic privacy about what your body looks like you would have to take action to gain and maintain that privacy. I am going to have to say privacy doesn’t hold up well as an inherent right in this scenario.
What does hold up is every one’s right to pursue happiness. In that pursuit the other right that holds up is that if you establish something or create something to preserve your privacy you have the right to keep it and no one should steal it from you. The woman who builds a small hut on such an Island and creates a grass skirt to wear should be allowed to keep these things as her property and if someone takes them they are thief. She has the right to pursue privacy as part of her pursuit of happiness. This of course does not mean still that she has a right to privacy just that she has the right to do what is in her power to maintain her privacy as she sees fit. If the same woman sits at a gathering wearing her skirt and lays back with her legs spread on the beach, she probably shouldn’t get upset if a few guys walk by and look up it. She has the means to maintain her privacy but did not choose to use them. It would be the same if she chose to make a shower apparatus in the jungle but didn’t put a curtain around it.
There is a saying that has developed because of Facebook that if you don’t want something to be on Facebook, don’t post it. To post your drama there and then get upset because people notice is kind of stupid. The same goes for any other aspect of privacy. You have the right to pursue privacy as part of your pursuit of happiness if privacy makes you happy but it is not inherent. If your going to wear a skirt in public places you should be aware that there is a responsibility on your part to keep the color of you underwear (or the fact your not wearing any) private, if you don’t want people to know.
That said, no defense is perfect. No matter what you do someone will accidentally or on purpose violate your privacy. There is simply no way to be private all the time if you live with human beings. The only way this could be achieved is to go to the island alone. The problem with privacy is that it is something that can be PURSUED, not guaranteed and so it is important to remember this. This is becoming increasingly more clear in our society where everything is recorded and snap chatted.