WASHINGTON — A frotteur is someone — usually male — who takes aberrant pleasure in rubbing his fully clothed groin area against someone else — usually female — generally in a public place, say a subway, perhaps a funeral parlor. The frotteur is a pretty weird duck. The word is obviously French in derivation, and it unsurprisingly has an arty origin. Frottage is “the technique or process of taking a rubbing from an uneven surface,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “…as a point of departure for a work of art.”
Now there is no national organization of frotteurs, even in France. So I cannot call up a spokesman to ask the particulars of this heretofore-unusual sexual predilection. Possibly in years to come frotteurs will tire of being harassed on the subway or wherever else they practice their sexual orientation, and they will organize. I suspect, however, they have been reading the New York Times, which is on to a hot story. The Times reports that as many as 6,000 young girls are competing in high school wrestling, many in competition with boys because their states have no girls category. There are 270,000 boys, presumably all in boys’ events. So if a frotteur learns at an early age that he/she is inclined toward frottage, he/she will want to try out for the boys wrestling team. Or perhaps they can just attend a match and simply watch. Many wrestling matches are conducted in darkened gymnasiums with but four spotlights over the mat.
If he/she can qualify for the 103-pound class the competition is apparently exquisite. Rachel Hale just won the Vermont state tournament over a young man, though possibly both won, at least if both are frotteurs. Whatever the case, it was a joyous occasion for Ms. Hale who became the first of her sex to win a state championship in boys wrestling. Ms. Hale is a 15-year-old freshman and she is going to have to watch her weight. If she puts on 10 or 15 pounds she will be in a heavier class. “I don’t know any girls competing over 160 and not many over 140,” says Kent Bailo, the director of the United States Girls Wrestling Association. “The boys beat them up; they get clobbered. It’s no fun.”
It was not all fun at the Iowa state boys wrestling championships recently. Braving charges of sexism, Joel Northrup forfeited to a girl in the 112-pound class for ethical and religious reasons. “…Wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times,” Joel wrote in a public statement. “As a matter of conscience and of my faith, I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner. It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most high school sports in Iowa.” A rather eloquent statement that — perhaps he had in mind what happened in Vermont where Ms. Hale “kept the boy subdued on his hands and knees, then flipped on his belly,” reports the Times, rather excitedly I would say. “Both wrestlers were 103 pounds of leverage and intent. She hooked her leg tightly around his, flattening his hips [!] toward the mat, trying to turn him on his back and pin his shoulders, careful not to let him score decisive points by escaping or reversing positions or pinning [!] her.” As I say, a frotteur might have a good time just sitting in the audience.
Being a high school student can be confusing nowadays. In the hallways and the cafeteria one has to be careful where one puts one’s hands. But then in the gym, if one is on the wrestling team, one had better be quick to move one’s hands fast. Ms. Hale “was careless,” the Times reports, in “looping one arm around” her opponent’s “neck and the other between his legs.” The result could have been catastrophe. There are other problems. Language can be loose and authentic, but it can also be hurtful and full of sexism and racism and, well, it could be insensitive to frotteurs.
Fortunately among the best and the brightest of Americans turn out to be educators, and so they keep our nation’s high schools safe and secure. If they did not, it would be a jungle out there.