Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Upskirting: Sex in the Slow Lane

The Sunbury Daily Item this morning reported the arrest of an out-of-state visitor in the Susquehanna Mall for upskirting. (The online edition changed the headline so as not to unintentionally encourage its readership). Upskirting, according to the Deadly Item (as it is fondly called by those of us who adore it), is bending over to take a digital photograph up a lady’s skirt (or a naughty girl’s, for that matter). Given the length of skirts these days, I have difficulty visualizing this, since either the man is something of a contortionist or the skirts involved were very short.

The important point, however, is that the perp is from out of state, Missouri, to be exact. Readers in that state should be on guard! Another important point—aside from the one on this guy’s head—is that upskirting is not yet listed among the crimes in Pennsylvania, so the district attorney has to decide whether the actual crime is disorderly conduct or harrassment, neither of which carry stern penalties.

Here at alphaDictionary, of course, we are more interested in the fact that this new verb has reached the area. To upskirt, according to the Urban Dictionary, has been around since 2006, along with the misuse of photographic cell phones itself. Since the verb to skirt means “to go around, circumvent”, I would have expected to upskirt to mean “to circumvent by raising to a higher level”, as to upskirt an insult with a compliment to the insulter. Apparently, that is not the case.

Anyway, this brave new step into sexual perversion and the vocabulary it shleps with it has us all talking in appropriately hushed tones here in centrally isolated Lewisburg. Who knows where it will lead to next: peeking at girls in bikinis at the beach, no doubt. What’s the world coming to?

6 Responses to “Upskirting: Sex in the Slow Lane”

  1. Mike Says:

    While not entitled as “upskirting”, PA does in fact have a criminal statute aimed specifically at this conduct: 18 Pa.C.S. § 7507.1, entitled “Invasion of privacy.” Section 7507.1(a)(2) is the relevant portion of the statute, but I’m copying the entire statute below in case you’re interested.

    § 7507.1. Invasion of privacy

    (a) Offense defined.–Except as set forth in subsection (d), a person commits the offense of invasion of privacy if he, for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of any person, knowingly does any of the following:

    (1) Views, photographs, videotapes, electronically depicts, films or otherwise records another person without that person’s knowledge and consent while that person is in a state of full or partial nudity and is in a place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    (2) Photographs, videotapes, electronically depicts, films or otherwise records or personally views the intimate parts, whether or not covered by clothing, of another person without that person’s knowledge and consent and which intimate parts that person does not intend to be visible by normal public observation.

    (3) Transfers or transmits an image obtained in violation of paragraph (1) or (2) by live or recorded telephone message, electronic mail or the Internet or by any other transfer of the medium on which the image is stored.

    (a.1) Separate violations.–A separate violation of this section shall occur:

    (1) for each victim of an offense under subsection (a) under the same or similar circumstances pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct whether at the same or different times; or

    (2) if a person is a victim of an offense under subsection (a) on more than one occasion during a separate course of conduct either individually or otherwise.

    (b) Grading.–Invasion of privacy is a misdemeanor of the second degree if there is more than one violation. Otherwise, a violation of this section is a misdemeanor of the third degree.

    (c) Commencement of prosecution.–Notwithstanding the provisions of 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 55 Subch. C (relating to criminal proceedings), a prosecution under this section must be commenced within the following periods of limitation:

    (1) two years from the date the offense occurred; or

    (2) if the victim did not realize at the time that there was an offense, within three years of the time the victim first learns of the offense.

    (d) Exceptions.–Subsection (a) shall not apply if the conduct proscribed by subsection (a) is done by any of the following:

    (1) Law enforcement officers during a lawful criminal investigation.

    (2) Law enforcement officers or by personnel of the Department of Corrections or a local correctional facility, prison or jail for security purposes or during investigation of alleged misconduct by a person in the custody of the department or local authorities.

    (e) Definitions.–As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

    “Full or partial nudity.” Display of all or any part of the human genitals or pubic area or buttocks, or any part of the nipple of the breast of any female person, with less than a fully opaque covering.

    “Intimate part.” Any part of:

    (1) the human genitals, pubic area or buttocks; and

    (2) the nipple of a female breast.

    “Photographs” or “films.” Making any photograph, motion picture film, videotape or any other recording or transmission of the image of a person.

    “Place where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.” A location where a reasonable person would believe that he could disrobe in privacy without being concerned that his undressing was being viewed, photographed or filmed by another.

    “Views.” Looking upon another person with the unaided eye or with any device designed or intended to improve visual acuity.

  2. Emily Says:

    Usually I enjoy your column, but seriously, what’s up with the misogynist bulls–t in the last paragraph?!?! There’s a world of difference between looking at women in bikinis on a beach (where being admired for our looks isn’t just commonplace, but pretty much expected, that often women go to the beach just to put ourselves on display), and having some a–hole willfully try to violate our right to privacy!

  3. rbeard Says:


    I still fail to see the difference between the bottom of a bikini bathing suit and bikini underwear. The point is, why go to jail to accomplish something a trip to the beach gets you for free? But then it was a joke.

    You should spend more time on the alphaDictionary website to improve your vocabulary. I should expect a more appealing vocabulary from the lips or fingers of someone with a name as lovely as ‘Emily’.

  4. Emily Says:

    You clearly are clueless about what “upskirting” really means then. Looking at our bodies as a whole at the beach is one thing; it’s expected, and as I said before, we all put our bodies on display at the beach (both men and women). But when someone makes the effort to look up a person’s skirt, they clearly have a more directly sexual purpose in mind. It’s a form of sexual harassment.

    Men look upskirt because they’ve fetishized the idea of voyeurism – basically, they get off on violating our right to privacy. Some fetishize the panties we wear, though most do it in the hopes that they can catch a glimpse of our genitals, which goes much further to violating our right to privacy than the bikini underwear you purport that they are looking for.

    Furthermore, most upskirters don’t just look. Most set up mechanisms such as putting mirrors on their shoes to make it easier to view up someone’s skirt. And they use cameras – so they can take their images of our private body parts and post them on the internet for anyone to see. Another clear violation of our right to privacy!

    Finally, have you ever considered that people who dress in bikinis at the beach choose to do so and are essentially consenting to being looked at? But when someone is looking up a person’s skirt, no consent has ever been given or implied. Furthermore, if a woman doesn’t want men looking at their bikini bathing suits, they can choose not to go to the beach. However, someone going around trying to look up people’s skirts do it to anyone, whether they want it or not.

    Now, back to your original comment and the point you were trying to make. Unfortunately, people who upskirt don’t move on to looking at women at the beach. If that was a joke, it wasn’t funny at all, because what upskirters often do move onto is rape. And unless you have less intelligence than a rock, I’m sure I don’t have to explain why that’s a huge difference.

  5. Stargzer Says:

    On June 18, 2009, Dr. Goodword said: “Anyway, this brave new step into sexual perversion and the vocabulary it shleps with it has us all talking in appropriately hushed tones here in centrally isolated Lewisburg. Who knows where it will lead to next: peeking at girls in bikinis at the beach, no doubt. What’s the world coming to?”

    Emily, I didn’t see that paragraph as mysogynistic, and Doc is certainly not clueless, but as far as language goes, he is the type that calls a spade a spade, while you and I would call it an effing shovel. That’s just my upbringing; my father was a Marine who never talked in his sleep–he swore!

    Anyway, the Good Doctor, a long-time resident of “cenrally isolated” Lewisburg, was making a little self-deprecating humor about his fellow denizens of that small university city.

    Were this to have happened where and when the Doctor was growing up, I’m sure there’d be no need for a state statute or the police; the male relatives of the victim would have taught the perverted perpetrator some manners. If he survived, he wouldn’t try that again any near that Western North Carolina town.

    When my children were younger, someone was discovered up above the ceiling at a local children’s clothing store with a video camera. If I had been there with my children they would have had to call a hearse instead of the police.

    To find out what type of town Lewisburg is (think of Lake Woebegon on Valium), and why he would take that type of potshot at his neighbors who talk in “hushed tones” about this incident, check out one of his earlier blogs from August 7, 2006, “Life in the Slow Lane.” Then you’ll see why “upskirting” is so rare there that it took someone from Missouri to bring it to them. It sounds like a nice safe place to retire to. Except for the drunken Amish man in the horse-and-buggy; but that’s another blog entry you can search for.



  6. mazin Says:

    I really would like to thank ya about this awesome information about american slang. You supported me in an important words never knew them before. I ask ya to send me some documents about american slang and the origion of the afro-amrrican slang and sex slang in .

    mazin h. ali

Leave a Reply