San Antonio columnist Cay Crow recently printed an interesting letter commenting on a March column she did about what she called “frotteurizing,” which sounded to me like something French people might do to milk but which turns out (she says) to mean “nonconsensual groping.”
To begin with, I officially hate both these terms. The first one is French. They may have invented groping, but there’s no reason we can’t describe it now in English. But Crow’s English phrase, "nonconsensual groping," doesn’t seem necessary. If groping is “nonconsensual," it’s “battery,” or just "groping." And if it’s consensual, it’s “foreplay." Isn’t it?
I’m not sure if there is a gray area there or not. Which might explain why I don’t get more second dates.
Anyway, the letter was written in response to Crow’s March column, which (I assume) was critical of those who grope sans consent. The letter went like this:
I would just like to share my own groping story with you. It’s not quite like the others, but it is equally disturbing.
I am a costumed character at a well-known theme park. [This is the point at which I began to reach for the keyboard.] Since it is a performance, I have to stay in character. That means when people ask me if I am a boy (and all of our characters are), I have to say yes (we are not allowed to speak).
Very rude people, always adults and older teenagers, say, "I bet you aren’t!" and proceed to try to grope [to find out]. I have been told by some that it "comes with the territory" of my job, but when I informed my manager, he said that it was completely inappropriate and next time it happened, I have every right to inform security and have these people escorted off the premises.
Cay, this is not only men who do this! Women do it as well! And it upset me very much. I am sure that they would not like it if I were to go grabbing right back at them!
Cay consoled Ms. Anonymous (who, based on the very limited evidence available, I suspect was portraying Yosemite Sam at Six Flags Fiesta Texas) and put the San Antonio area on notice that nonconsensual groping/frotteurism was not okay, even in connection with cartoon characters:
I am so sorry that this happened to you but I am thrilled that your manager is having those animals removed from the park. OK, San Antonio and surrounding areas, you have been warned! I just can’t believe that people could be so insensitive and crude. . . . What does this behavior, even toward a cartoon character, teach children?
Well, it might teach them where Daddy gets his bail bonds. Let’s try to think positive. Anyway, up to this point, Cay was making a lot of sense, but then she went on to offer a somewhat surprising explanation for the nonconsensualized gropery:
I suspect that some of these folks groping cartoon characters are either "plushies," people with strong attachments to stuffed animals, or "furries," individuals who are drawn to furry cartoon characters. . . . Within this community, there is a specific term, a "furvert" for the individuals who groped you indicating, presumably, their sexual attraction to a mascot.
I’m not sure we really need to go there in order to explain what’s happening – rudeness and stupidity are probably enough – but at least mascots in San Antonio and surrounding areas (and now the rest of you) are on notice that the person frotteurizing them may be a "furvert."
This is probably one of the few things not covered by the USA PATRIOT Act, so the public will have to protect itself on this one. Be warned.