As Christmas descends upon us like an angry vulture my job has become increasingly more a challenge of finding product to sell rather than selling anything. They need to stock the floor and entice harried holiday shoppers with scuffed copies of “Equilibrium” at $4.99 a pop and while my own efforts has deposited a fair amount of cash into the coffers the season demands baubles to be readily available. I have found myself trying to keep busy with an odd assortment of DVDs from foreign lands and other regions which sell better when tourists come from overseas in the summer.

Among versions of Fletch for the European market and Trauma dubbed into Italian (funny as it’s a Dario Argento movie and his daughter Asia stars– they’re Italian) was a colorful little DVD called Saekjeuk Shigong, or Sex is Zero. It looks to be the Korean equivalent of Meatballs or American Pie, a sex-comedy of mishaps and humiliation all in the name of getting laid. A curiosity, particularly as the more reserved Korean film market tends to keep girls covered and this genre is about cheap laughs padded with T&A. Looking the movie up on IMDB one of the user added keywords caught my eye.

What the fuck is “Frotteurism“? Turns out this is the official term for people who get gratification by rubbing their privates on other people against their will, usually using crowded places to cover their actions. Psychologists lump frotteurism in with other paraphilia such as exhibitionism or voyeurism– deviant mental disorders where people have mistaken notions as to the connection between their actions and the person they’re acting upon. Groping is the layman’s term, although while groping can be approved by both parties frotteurism relies on a victim for the perpetrator so they can believe this illicit contact is actually some deeper level connection tacitly desired.

My only encounter with this behavior was when I was much younger. The family had rented Burglar and there’s a scene where Whoopi Goldberg is in a dentist’s office snooping for a lead. The dentist, while scraping plaque, takes advantage of his position and her hand, hilarity ensues and suddenly he’s gone all high-pitched and Whoopi’s giving orders. I’m not sure if I understood the significance at the time but it probably received a hearty dose of laughter.

Flickr user Tavallai

This probably happens all the time but I never take buses and I hate crowds so it’s never been something I’ve witnessed firsthand. A common phenomenon of going to shows is the pervert gropers in the audience which might be the most obvious outlet for American errant behavior. In other countries, however, there seems to be an epidemic of lechery afflicting schoolgirls and housewives alike. Japan, possibly the world capital for bizarre sexual frustration and self-expression, has terms for both male and female frotteurs and polls have over 60% of female subway and railway passengers claiming they’ve been molested while in transit. The massive crowds make identifying the perpetrators impossible and many are too ashamed to make reports but the Japanese government has recently increased the maximum penalty for convicted gropers and some lines run trains with women only cars. This isn’t necessarily a recent craze; if memory serves me well there’s a chapter in Akiyuki Nosaka‘s The Pornographers where the protagonist is leading a salaryman on commuter trains acting as a guide for his patron’s desire to molest women passengers.

Another country notorious for not respecting women has responded to similar circumstances and pressures– Mexico City has recently started running buses for women due to the amount of verbal abuse and unwanted contact. The program has been well received by the patrons who ride these buses but men interviewed in the video (assuming this is the one I saw– my computer won’t play this) seem split between understanding and sympathizing or regurgitating the boys will be boys philosophy. Women in Japan are advocating for complete segregation on the railways instead of having their own cars but as of yet this hasn’t come to pass.