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Some perverts live happy lives in overcrowded buses and trains rubbing against young women

The cases of men groping women or rubbing against them while traveling an overcrowded bus or a metro car are not rare these days in a city.

“A typical groper looks respectable, he went to university, and has a steady.”

However, this kind of sexual harassment is not a sign of our time. Those who began taking advantage of their potential victims’ helplessness and restricted freedom of movement appeared shortly after the public transport became a reality.

An excerpt from the memoirs of the actress Zoya Fedorova: Frottage

“I had a nasty experience while riding on a streetcar in the summer of 1930 in Moscow. The streetcar was literally packed. The air was hot and stuffy. Suddenly I felt someone pressing hard against my backside. There wasn’t any ambiguity about the movement of that hand. So I turned my head and looked that guy right in the eye. He didn’t even look away, his hand was still slithering about my dress. All of a sudden he said in a loud voice: “Stop pressing against me, will you? I don’t even know your name.” My face flushed as I elbowed my way through the crowd to the door. I got off on the next stop. And I could hear him giggle at my back. It was disgusting.”

Frottage (from French to frotter – to rub) is a sexual perversion when a person gets sexual stimulation and satisfaction by rubbing against another person.

“Gropers” and “antenna men” were the words for referring to males with the above sexual practice in the Soviet era. Medicine has a specific term – frotteur- for designating a man who makes a woman feel awkward and disgusted because of his offensive sexual harassment in a crowded public place.

It is practically impossible to spot a frotteur in a crowd since the propensity for frottage has no impact on a person’s looks. However, an average frotteur is likely to look like a middle-aged respectable man. But a man in his thirties who had too much to drink or a shy and pimple-faced senior pupil can become frotteurs too. In any case, female passengers of the public transport can follow these simple recommendations in order to prevent a sudden act of sexual aggression: make an effort and find a seat or press you back against the window.

There are no statistics for cases of frottage in this country. Below are some figures on the situation in Japan.

- 800 people were arrested and charged with frottage in 1996;

- The number of frottage-related lawsuits went up to 2201 in 2004

Our concept of a pervert differs from the latter’s social status. It is highly unlikely that a hot-blooded mountain dweller or a social outcast will resort to rubbing against a girl who takes his fancy while riding on a cramped metro car in the rush hour. A typical groper looks respectable, he went to university, and has a steady.

Psychiatrists still debate the origins of frottage. We can list the following reasons behind the phenomenon by summarizing different points of view:

- problems in sex life

- sexually explicit attire of female passengers

- a crush of passengers (some sexually unsatisfied males find it hard to fight an irresistible urge of the flesh when crushed against a sexy babe wearing hot pants and a low-cut top)

- riding on a hot and airless bus or commuter train

- psychological and mental disorders of an “antenna man”

Up to 70% of all female residents of megalopolises fall victims to the public transport perverts at least once in a lifetime. Unfortunately, a Russia-based frotteur can be brought to justice only in theory. As a rule, a lecher acts discreetly, and therefore he does not stand out in a crowd. A victim of sexual harassment should be determined enough to put up opposition to an “antenna man.”

To tackle the problem of frottage in Tokyo metro, the city authorities had to allocate a few cars for women only. In Russia, a woman riding on the public transport must cope with the problem herself. Anything will do if it does the trick.

It would be unfair to say that frotteurs are exclusively males. There are just a few cases of sexual harassment committed by women or homosexuals on the public transport. The number is pretty low, but still it is.


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12/2008 02/2009


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