Upskirting: A Systematic Literature Review

Upskirting’ – the non-consensual taking and/or dissemination of intimate images taken surreptitiously up a skirt – is a relatively new addition to the repertoire of men’s violence against women and girls. Recently, it has received considerable media and public attention in many countries and some academic scrutiny. This systematic review explicates how scholars construct upskirting as a matter for academic inquiry and a social problem that requires remedy. Four research sub-questions address how scholarship constructs: the problem of upskirting; perpetrators of upskirting; victims of upskirting, and remedies. Five bibliographical databases were searched, yielding 26 sources that met the inclusion criteria. Most of the studies (16) and most of the earlier work are from the discipline of Law. Other studies come from a combination of Criminology, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Psychology, Social Work, Sociology, and Computing. The predominance of legal scholarship has created a framing of upskirting which constructs it as an individual sexual act, for purposes of sexual gratification, as gender-neutral, as the act of aberrant individuals, and scrutinises the act of taking the photograph. By contrast, scholarship from other disciplines is more likely to locate upskirting as highly gendered behaviour in the context of gendered relations of power, and of violence against women and girls, and to consider both the act of taking the photograph and its dissemination online. We argue that future research ought to: approach upskirting as a form of violence against women and girls; be empirical and intersectional, and engage with victims and perpetrators.


University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Ruth Lewis, Northumbria University, Department of Social Sciences

Sundari Anitha, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences