Tuesday, December 13, 2011

4 Ordinary vs Sexual touch - How do you know?

Child abuse is common - but so is women abuse. It is difficult to trace child abuse because children either do not understand the touch or fail to communicate out of fear or shame. Women abuse is confusing and subtle - even for a well-informed women. It is a way of life for women but it still leaves a stain.

Once when I went for a Hair spa (an exception), and since it was an unisex spa, a male hair dresser was assigned to the task of placating my hair. It was expensive but the guy did a good job of massaging the head and the shoulders. But when it came to the shoulders and the back, I was extremely uncomfortable. Even though, I wanted to think that it was ok, it was not ok for me to let some random male touch me even under required circumstances. Some conflicting thoughts due to cultural conditioning. Add to it the fact that this guy was smiling at another guy periodically - as if to say "See .. I am touching her". I decided for all my modern thoughts about men-women, I am not going to get a massage done by a guy again.

My paati (paternal grand-mom) had seven children all of whom were delivered with the help of a male doctor. She talks about this doctor in a reverent manner - she still wishes that he is alive so that she can solve her ailments in a second.(Do we have doctors like this anymore?). In the US, I have heard that male gynaes do an excellent job. But how do I trust - I have equally heard of horror stories of doctors capturing patients in hidden cameras. I also have a doctor friend who told me that one of his acquaintances (a dermatologist) asks patients to remove clothes to examine even small complains - just to feel them. He had openly admitted this but not much could be done. He warns me against going to any male doctor.

On a visit to Delhi to my maternal grand-parent's home, I had a severe skin infection on my breasts. We went to well-known female doc and she referred us to a male dermatologist just to check that this was just eczema and not a symptom of breast cancer.(Yes. Breat cancer can also start with a skin infection on the top layer). I had no way out but to get examined by this person. He was a middle-aged man but I made sure that my aunt stayed in the room when he performed the analysis. It was really embarrassing but we got through it fast. I had some trust because I trusted the other doctor who had referred us.

And for all the men who are 'Ladies tailors', whenever they start measuring the breasts I become all tense. Some exploit at this stage - they touch the breast or the side or the hips. Can I just start screaming right there? No I cant. Was it intentional - I will never know.

I have written about My car driving stints here. This is when I attended the classes for the second time in Bangalore. I chose a guy instructor because lady instructors did not train on weekends and on Santro. The first few classes were good. When I was learning the reverse drive I could not get the vehicle to move in the right space. This guy steers the car suddenly and the problem is there is not too much space between the steering and me! He touches me and I know its intentional - but I did not want to create a scene. I just made sure I dont go driving with him after that. But the incident was already past.

Some questions
1. How many of you are completely comfortable getting styling services from men?
2. How do you know that a man is not exploiting you when providing any service?
3. Are you comfortable going to a male gynecologist and letting them guide you during the pregnancy?


  1. My doctor friend once told me that the best gynecologists in Chennai city are male doctors!

    Though this is off-topic, here is a good video on prevention of child abuse:


  2. @Chandru
    Thanks for sharing the video.

    Agree that there are good male docs . I personally know cancer/skin doctors who do an excellent job. But the question here is how do I trust - I find this sometimes difficult. Wrt doctors we can say that at least these are an highly educated lot and chances of abuse are lesser. But it does happen.

  3. @Sam,

    You have a point here. It is only natural to have concerns on abuse. Sorry for the longer comment, but here is my opinion on this (seeing things from two different angles):

    1. As a patient (or a customer in the case of hair spa), we go with some trust/belief that these people will be "professional" and just do their jobs and will not exceed their 'limits'. Note the 'limits' might differ for different professions. The doctor might have to examine private parts of his patient, but a hair dresser just needs to touch the back of his customer, both of which might make one uncomfortable. A "professional" doctor will tell upfront what he is going to do. It is also his duty to answer the questions (if any) about such examinations.

    If people are "professional", they will automatically get more patients/customers. For example, your grandmother would have surely recommended her doctor to a lot of people. If it was only your grandmother who had a good experience, that doctor may not have too many patients! He probably may not be the most sought after doctor in Delhi!

    If you have such doubts, ask around! That is the only way to build trust on doctors. It is very easy to get opinions about doctors etc in this age of information. And if you had good/bad experiences about a doctor, be sure to spread the word. I agree with your point that just because these are an highly educated lot, we should not assume that abuses cannot happen.

    2. From their angle, you should understand that it is not easy to attract patients/customers if they abuse their profession and get into such practices. The hair spa guy lost a customer in you. If he really took advantage with you, he may be doing it with other women too, and eventually most women will stop going to him. If it was only you who felt uncomfortable, he doesn't lose much if you stop going to him! In either case, things even out.

    You may have probably heard of horror stories, but they are rare. I do feel bad for the victims, but awareness by blogs like these help a lot. It quickly spread the word around, and people who want to stay away from such abuse, get the message. The youtube video is an excellent example of creating awareness about child abuse!

  4. @Chandru You are absolutely right on the 'word-of-mouth' trust. Especially when it comes to doctors, all of tend to ask around - so I guess the chances of exploitation does come down. But like I said sometimes you realize after the incident.
    But asking around and checking on the internet defn helps.


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