Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Trauma Aboard Flight 1016

I, too, am a woman. Or so I thought.

He’s just your average college dude.

School team hat. Beaten jeans and sneakers. Blonde hair.

He sits to my right.

He is a boy.

I am a girl.

This girl and this boy are on flight 1016, both excited for their arrival in Miami.

They are sitting way too close for comfort, and this trip’s battle over the armrest takes an easy loss on the side of the girl.

We’re in the air.

The boy spreads out as much as he can, reclines his seat, and shifts his hat to cover his eyes.

Something’s holding me back from relaxing.

No, not something.

A boy is holding me back from relaxing.

I’m not accustomed to sprawling out and resting in such proximity to a college lad.

So this girl is sitting upright.

There is no plan of action when you're stuck in 5 square feet and thousands of feet in the air. She'll just have to deal.

Soon enough, the young mister starts moving.

Ever so nonchalantly, our young man pulls out a magazine from his stuff.

And, no, it's not Newsweek.

They call it "Men's Health Magazine."

Apparently, a tan and barely clothed model in an extremely creative position has something to do with men's health.

I glance over. I have to see the expression on his face.

Is he seriously about to peruse through this magazine with a young lady seated right beside him?

This girls cheeks are probably a little flushed.

So he opens it.

The flashy pages totally grab my glances in this empty, crammed, and temporary space.

And now, every time he turns the page, I naturally look over…almost against my will.

The pictures. The vulgar headlines.

This men's magazine is totally dedicated to the objectification of women.

Women - for men’s viewing pleasure.

I am utterly amazed.

Does this boy not realize?

I, too, am a woman.

I am a feminine being.

I have the same body parts

I may even wear the same lipstick.

And the boy sits beside the girl, turning the pages ever so casually.

This guy is acting as if I am a separate creation. As if I have nothing to take personally.

He is effacing my gender.

The lack of embarrassment is startling.

How could he not be uncomfortable?

I have within me all those things that put women in men’s magazines.

And, who does he think he is – making me aware of this?

Who does he think he is – exposing me to this?

Aisle 21 has never been the scene of so much squirming. I am cringing from within.
This girl wants to cry.

On a flight to Miami, I am forced to face the harsh reality of the nature of secular usage of the female body, the truths of our all-too-often shameless society, and the horrors of a world with no respect for boundaries.

As I sat in 21E, this girl realized that people have become all too comfortable with their own perversions.

There’s no such thing as “behind closed doors” anymore.

And not just that, but our young fellow has lost touch of the world. He doesn’t even realize he’s sitting next to a woman.

When he opened the magazine, I became an object.

That was the only way he could open the magazine without being guilt-ridden, without it feeling wrong.

After all, who opens a men’s magazine with provocative pictures while seated an inch away from a young lady?

This girl feels a little taken advantage of.

She feels a loss of innocence.

And all because of your average college dude.

School team hat. Beaten jeans and sneakers. Blonde hair.

He sits to my right.

He is a boy.

I am an object.


Chana said...

Oh Mimi, how awful! What a painful and disturbing situation. As frum girls, of course we're more sensitive to tznius, but I hope that any woman would feel uncomfortable sitting next to that. Ew! May your experiences in Miami be so inspiring that they wipe away this dirt.

LubaGal said...

So true!

Gila Manolson's book Outside Inside happens to be lying on my desk near me... and your article brought this paragraph to mind.

"....Covering yourself is therefore the most fundamental way of saying, 'I'm more than a body.' The Hebrew word "Levush", clothing, is related to the word "busha", shame.
The body isn't shameful but being seen as no more than a body is.
Clothing removes that shame by directing attention past the outside to the inside.
It's the first step in asserting our personhood. And the more of our bodies we cover, the less they eclipse who we are..."

Darling, we live in a crazy world... but BH we've got Tznius, Taharas Hamishpacha etc... how lucky are we?

? said...

Wow- howd u experience two such opposite feelings on one plane ride?? The Rebbe is on the Plane, and Trauma?

Mimi said...


The truth is I recognized this when I wrote it, was waiting for someone to point that out.

It happens to be, they are intimately tied together. The fact that this was happening encouraged me to take out a pen and paper and write the previous post! :)

Mottel said...

He didn't think twice because he was not looking at anything that shook the status quo. Woman today, with all the 'strides' made by the feminist movement, have played straight into the arms of man's desires . . .
They wish to see, so they feel that they must be seen -that to be accepted they must play into these 'styles'.
In doing so, they become desensitized to their own degradation -which in turn further numbs men from seeing anything wrong in their actions. I doubt he saw a contradiction in his actions to sitting next to you . . . I doubt he thought twice about perusing his periodical while sitting next you -in his mind all women agree . . .
I hope you have better flights from now on (You can always ask to be moved, to switch seats with someone)

Anonymous said...

at least he didnt do anything to you.
I WAS once on a plane,sitting nere the same type of blonde,college dude when i felt something strange & unfamiliar.
A foot. but not just a foot,a rubbing,carresing foot.
footsies? i dunno!
i was too dumbstruck to speak..i pretended i was sleeping.
Dont ask...

talk about cringing and feeling sick!

annoying grammar dude said...

Oh Em Geeee! That's my favorite magazine!!!!

But for real: I wholly agree with you. A bissel self-respect, dude!
And to write the previous post while feeling this one - psssssh!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

My G-d, I wish I was still so innocent, so naive, I wish I believed in the all that 'beauty' of the jewish woman, the tznius, etc, etc, I wish I could find it in myself to write about how awkward it is to sit next to a boy, and actually feel repulsed!!!

But nothing surprises me, girl. I am not innocent anymore, and the world is not innocent. Boys will be boys, the secular world is more and more open and casual.

Nothing is holy, anymore, and not just the secular world, but the jewish world as well.

I went to seminary, don't worry, and it was only a year ago. But a year can change one's whole perspective. I don't believe in anything anymore, not the Rebbe, not Lubavitch, not tznius, not the purity and beauty of the woman, not the beauty of yiddishkeit. Nothing is beautiful, the world is a harsh and terrifying place, and nothing is fair.

Get used to it. G-d is out to make us suffer. I would be scared that he will burn me in hell, but I've suffered too much in his hands to care, because my world is a worser hell then gehinom will ever be.

Keep being innocent. At least you have something to strive for. At least you will be happy. At least Hashem is looking out for someone, even though he has neglected me.

Keep being tznius. Keep your identity, but know that others out there are having a hard time in this world, you are lucky not to be having doubts about who you are.

Itzhak Schier said...

OY - so that is what "Men's Health" is? Another GQ or whatever that is also nisht far unz? When I was living abroad it came out in the language of the country where I was living, but when I glanced at the headlines I thought it was about extreme sports, overpriced men's fashion etc. I never bothered even looking to see what was really in it, and now I am glad I didn't.

And if that is what a healthy man is supposed to be about, I guess that in oilam hasheker, men like me whose choice of subway, bus and plane reading material includes a pocket Tanya, Chassidus Mevueres kuntresim, the Dvar Malchus, and, horror of horrors, Mishpacha magazine :), are unhealthy, and I am proud to be considered as such.

mendy said...

As a male, I am sorry.

Nemo said...

Hey, we don't have to apologize for nothing.

the sabra said...

that was good of you. thank you.
im waiting for you to answer anonymous above.

guy said...

ok i see were ur coming from and how this guy is sick, for having no shame, but what is up with this "we are just objects to guys"? every girl says it these days its such stupidity, and im not saying every guy is inocent, there r some sick ppl, out there, but some and i beleive most guys veiew women as ppl, and we dont go and say women consider us objects, when they need a hug or somthing. we all have needs some may just be a bit stronger.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mimi said...

Comments that transcend the public nature of this blog can be addressed to me via e-mail(Mimi@notik.com).

I'm in Fl and very busy. Can't wait to make time to really respond.

- M

Nemo said...

I thought this blog was all about transcendence? ;)

Just Cruisin' said...

Anonymous Above...
Just curious-
What turned you off?

Dovid said...

Mendy, you make me sick.

jakeyology said...

haven't been to your blog in a while. seems i've missed all the fun.

how ironic is the magazine's name, "Men’s Health Magazine" - kinda like the soviets calling their publication "Pravda".

along that same ironic thread, i find it, yes, ironic, that Ms. Anonymous, who so eloquently states that "Nothing is holy, anymore," begins her post with "My G-d."

she says she has lost her innocence and that she doesn't believe in anything anymore. well, honey, welcome - we lose our innocence only to find it again, we stop believing only to remember we exist, and then we believe once again.

yeah, the world is a harsh place, but that doesn’t mean we have to be harsh creatures. and, as her last paragraph seems to suggest, Ms, Anonymous is less harsh and more innocent than she knows.

mendy said...

Maybe you'd like to share with me what about me sickens you?
I honestly didn't intend to offend anyone, so if you have a problem with something I said, explain please, because it's beyond me.

plonimous said...

Oh please take off this commment moderation thing!
Its impossible to have a normal discussion....

plonimous said...

thank you darling!

Mimi said...

What can I say...the Hilltop cares :)

Did you just call me darling?

Who are you?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dovid said...

I don't want to explain it because it'll inevitably look bad. But trust me, you make me sick. I don't want you apologizing for me, for my sex, and not even for that guy sitting next to Mimi on her flight. You can apologize for being you, if you feel guilty about it.

Mimi said...

Anonymous: Sure, I can contact you. Meanwhile, I deleted your comment with the e-mail address (can tell you why later).

anonym00kie said...

mendy you dont make me sick.. thank you.
but dovid.. the repulsion at his apology makes me cringe.. is it that painful to hear about a man admit men's weaknesses? to see a man "lower himself"and apologize to a woman. sure we know he didnt do it, but i would venture to say that what mimi expresses is shared deep down in most males, thats the way they were created, and he's admitting it. the torah gives tons of restrictions for that exact reason, to force men NOT to objectify women.. so obviously it must be in their nature to do so. we feel it, mendy admits it.. but you wont..

Nemo said...

I think his point is that each person should be responsible for themselves and has no place apologizing for what other's have done.

But, more importantly, I think that everyone is fixating on such an innocent statement which literally didn't mean anything to anyone. It was just a casual conversation maker- you know how it goes on the blogs...

Dovid said...

No, that wasn't my point. My point is that even what he himself did needs no apology. Big deal, he has desires. Is that new to you? Is it a loss of innocence? Do women not have desires? Do you know that the male porn is almost as popular in America as its counterpart? But do I expect an apology from you?! Do I care?! Do I relate to it as exploitation?! When I was on a plane and the guy next to me was looking at gay porn I felt completely grossed out, but I didn't feel objectified, taken advantage of, or anything else. Gross, but that's all. Sure, it was disrespectful of this guy to read that next to Mimi, but only because these things obviously have an effect on people nearby, and the definition of politeness is to be as unnoticeable as possible. Imposing yourself on other is rude, regardless of if that is in the form of passing wind or looking at something that makes someone else uncomfortable. But is that something uniquely male? Is imposing one's self a male trait, for which Mendy needs to apologize? Because if it's for the act itself that Mimi's neighbor was doing, I stand by what I wrote.

the sabra said...

when a yid across the world steals, i feel embarrassed.

same thing.

Nemo said...

Hello, he wasn't jewish.

Anonymous said...

i think you missed her point: jews share something; males share something.

Dovid said...

So then Mimi should have been sorry for him too: Humans share something.

anonym00kie said...

bloggers also share something..
way too much time on their hands!

Anon 36 said...

But dovid - can u not accept at least that porn objectifies women, just like gay porn objectifies men?

it takes a person, and makes them a sex object..

yes- but its nothing new. women have been objetifying themselves since forever too

why its so suprising is beyond me too..

Dovid said...

Yes, of course it does. But to frame it as men objectifying women is just dumb and naive. Bichalal this article is stunningly naive. Like hello, were you born yesterday?? I'm just waiting for an update.... Mimi?

Anonymous said...

she's not naive. just now it was something personal which stirred a range of emotion

mg said...

Dovid - It is interesting to juxtapose your comments here and what you've been writing recently on your own blog.....

Mimi said...

Dovid, I think you took the apology way too seriously. I think it was more of a "sorry you had to experience that..." type of sorry.

Either way, I don't think I'm naive. Innocent, maybe - but not naive. Does everyone know the difference?

On top of that, this piece wasn't meant to be an evaluation of the topic at large, it was - like anonymous above pointed out - a personal experience. Something we all know about was so up close, in my face.



The editor found it on my blog, wanted to use it. Someone commented that I should have said something to the young man.

Maybe I should have.

But perhaps saying something would have only broken down the boundaries more, brought it to life, I dunno.


It seems a lot of people have adapted the attitude of "well, this is the way the world is, so.."

Do we live passively, consumed by society? Or are we sensitive and alive and living on something higher?

Let's not get swallowed.

The corruption in this world is never, "just the way it is."

The world will really only be that way once people stop being so alert and sensitive, don't you think?

We accept the chaos and then say, "oh, that's the way it is."

That's so...lame.

Dovid said...

Mimi, I just tagged you! Goodluck :)

Anonymous said...

i wonder, if a girl would have been reading the same magazine next to you ,would you have felt the same discomfort?

Mimi said...

Of course, why not?

Women objectify themselves as well, all the time. Our magazines are the worst.

But if it was a magazine about men, I would be little more shocked, just in terms of it being against woman's nature, but I would not have taken it as personlly.

The theme in this piece was me realizing that, "I, too, am a woman" - the same as those in the magazine (in form, gender, etc). Maybe you have to be a woman, or have had to experience this to get what that means. It was startling.

Anonymous said...

um if a women was looking at a womens porn magazine i would be freeked out- i would ask her to be evicted from the plane.

sitting next to a lesbian? chuck them off the plane

Anonymous said...

That is just a completely ignorant comment. Someone's sexual preference is a reason to evict them from the plane?? I wouldn't even want to hear your logic there because I'm sure it's completely ludicrous. It's people like you that are making the world a worse place to live in, by the way, with your hate and judgment.

Anonymous said...


remember being on the xpress bus
coming to manhattan bus is full with
9-5 biz type, here i am with my siddur
davening, swaying back and forth in my
chair, young man sits next to me-few
minutes later he gets up and sits on
another seat. funny thought to myself....
i dont know what kind of magazine this
kid was reading, u culd pull out ur tehillim
and daven, pull out a sefer on chassidut...
pull the sheva mitzva card and say....
.....ur girl bujare

YS said...

I'm going to pass on this topic but I saw that you are listening to Danny Zamir. If you look on archive.org you can find a Matis concert that Danny joins him for 2 tracks. The tzama l'cha nafshi is great.

I'm told he's doing another show in J-lem soon. I caught his last two. Just Wow.

Mimi said...

YS, do you know what show it was? I love it when those two jam together. He's really something, Danny Zamir. I love gettin' new archive posts on Matis - this particular one was in Israel I take it?

Anonymous said...


mim try this-matis at funkbox


der fuhrer said...

On jewishwoman.org your article got alot of comments. It seems like alot of people are in agreement that you objectified yourself.

numa said...

der fuhrer- what an awful awful aweful name you have
shame on you

Mimi said...

Der Fuhrer, all the coments on the chabad.org site have valid points, they are all relevent. And not everyone is saying the same thing. The people who think that it is I that objectified myself are looking at the article a little superficially. I have yet to respond to the Chabad.org comments.

Anonymous said...

Why has everyone blown this out of proportion?
All the talk of porn and sexual preferences and women as objects is irrelevent. The guy was reading a mens health magazine, which as the title hints at is not porn;hardcore or otherwise. The pictures, articles and ads published in the magazine are no more ppornogarphic than an average walk down the street and conversation over coffe.

Mimi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mimi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mimi said...

This post wasn't meant to be an analysis of the status of the world. Rather, as mentioned before, it was an account of sitting so close and up front with someone buying into and supporting the culture.

While society - our advertising, magazines - can be callous, its hard to understand how a young man doesn't notice what he's doing, right next to young girl. We see stuff everywhere we go, sure…but this was about being seated next to the consumer.

So, again - you're right...talk of porn and women as objects is indeed irrelevant. But a little bit of conscious and sensitivity is in high demand.

[And for the record, perhaps I got the magazine wrong, or this was a particularly graphic version - but I am not exaggerating the content.]

Anonymous said...

This is about the world; you're in it. That someone supporting the culture is the common man. May I assume he is not a sexual deviant and is merely behaving as society allows, even expects, him to behave.
His actions require no added 'sensitivity' for the possibility of hurt due to his behaviour is so distant in society. A society both men and women have created together, where the percentage of women willing to pose provocativley is the same as the men but the magazine.
True there is a problem, but it is a deep rooted issue which leaves many blameless.
I don't believe you can be upset with the young man, nor can you decry the objectification of women just because they pose in lingerie.

the sabra said...

she does have a right actually.

Trino Carrera said...

Dorks on a plane! Yikes! The thing is especially in economy there's no room to run if someone starts to spread out and do whatever they like. You were probably had the window too, so Heaven help you if you had to get up.

Anonymous said...

This current post was the first post of yours that I've read.
I was just looking through some of the archives, and I found this:
Which of these two types of males is better?