Thursday, February 21, 2008

At Your 'Service'

The other day, I was out shopping for some T-shirts and suchlike. Typical male shopping - straight from work, jumped into the first decent looking shop I could find. It was only after I had taken a couple of steps inside and had a good look around that I noticed that the salesman looked rather gay. The first thought that came to my mind was escape. But it was too late for that - I had already made clear my intentions of buying something. Besides, the politically correct and liberal part of me was protesting against this prejudiced attitude towards homosexuals. So I decided to face the situation head on.

Within 2 minutes I was wishing I had run away from that shop. To say that the guy came on to me would be an understatement.

"Let me see what size T-shirt you'd require," he said and started a slow caress of my shoulder.

"I wear size 40 shirts," I replied quickly (cursing myself for not getting out when I had the chance), and much too quickly for his liking. His hands reluctantly left my shoulder.

He went away and brought a T-shirt which looked to be my size. Just to cross-check before trying it on, I placed it in front of me.

"Perfect length," he remarked as his hand straightened the hem of the T-shirt. Wait a minute! Did his hands just brush my, know, that part of the body? Probably was a mistake - come on, nobody moves from perfect stranger to cojone caresser that fast.

I was by now desperate to get out of the shop. So I decided to try on the T-shirt and be done with it. He led the way to the trial room, T-shirt in hand. I followed, looking around to see if there were other customers being subjected to similar tortures (what if this was one of those places with a pro-gay reservation policies?). The shop was empty except for me and I did not have to break my head to figure out the reasons for it.

As I entered the trial room and stretched my hand out for the T-shirt, I realized that he had no intention of giving it to me.

"You remove your shirt, sir. I'll put this T-shirt on you," he said.

"Why can't I put it on myself?"

"I want to ensure that it doesn't get crumpled," he said with a slightly embarrassed smile on his face - as if I was making it difficult for him by making him explain the obvious. I was supposed to understand the ishare.

This was getting out of hand. He was no longer happy simply touching me. He wanted to touch me without my clothes on!

"Look here. Either I put on this T-shirt myself or I walk out of this shop now", I replied.

He seemed to have concluded that something was better than nothing, because he let me change into the T-shirt in peace. But the moment he saw me in the T-shirt he was back to his normal self.

"Excellent fit. Perfect length," he said as he ran his eyes up and down. I wasn't sure whether he was talking about the T-shirt any more. "Let me just straighten it over here," he said and started reaching out for the T-shirt.

But this time I was prepared and before he could touch me I was out of the place.

It would have been a really funny incident had it not made me feel really sick. But it set me thinking about sexual harassment and how it applies to men as well. Sexual harassment laws in India assume that the victim can only be women. Consider, for instance, these sections of the Indian Penal Code:

Section 354: Assault or use of criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty.

Section 375:
A man is said to commit "rape" who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six...

Section 509: Uttering any word or making any gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman [I've never understood why they still use such archaic terms like 'modesty of woman'. What would be the equivalent of that for a man? Or don't men have any 'modesty' which could be insulted?]

If the same yardsticks of sexual harassment were to be applied for men, I'm pretty sure that a lot of men would have been victims of sexual harassment at some point or other in their lives. Possibly very few cases of the assault or rape, but definitely a lot of the last. But whether the victim is male or female, the perpetrator of the crime is mostly male.

And if you have got the time, check out this humorous article dredged from the depths and back- alleys of Wikipedia by Mathew about, guess what, gays and Wikipedia editing.


Mathew said...

This is why I am only too happy to let my parents accompany me on shopping trips. :-)

I wouldn't have thought that such things occur, but a friend of mine (male, of course) recently told me about a similarly harrowing experience he had on a public bus.

And I think the salesman should be more worried about Section 377 of the IPC than any of those mentioned by you.

philip said...

mathew: i haven't put in my public transportation experiences for the sake of brevity.
Section 377-"Unnatural offences. Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal..."
I don't think he has to worry about that unless he has intercourse ;)

silverine said...

Politically correct or not, you will never see a straight girl hitting on a gay guy, if she knew about his inclinations. So why cannot a gay guy similarly respect a straight guys preference? Then they talk of discrimination!! I have heard too many stories like this. It's time to change the laws.

btw this is why they did away with male salesmen in ladies shops. I guess its time you guys asked for women sales folk in mens outlets too :)

g-man said...

good point. hav had the same happen to me too, but it was a guy who was er...trying to help me get a railway ticket when i was a kid. nice post, really liked it

philip said...

silverine: ah..saleswomen in men's shop - just the thing to make shopping a joyful experience for men.

i couldn't agree with you more - it's time to change the laws.

g-man: i=i+1 :D

the number just keeps growing.

Badri said...

Thats shit scary .....what would have happened if it was a lilltle kid??........