NYC Taxi Driver Tells It Straight

Why do aidel maidels need to be so tznius? The mashal is often given to a precious diamond, which is kept hidden away in a safe, not exposed where anyone can see or steal it.

In the opening anecdote of Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt’s latest article, a NYC taxi driver explains the problem with this comparison:

 

We usually don’t take a car,” the yeshiva boy says to the driver, an older Irish man with a hearty laugh and a dapper straw hat. “But the lady was inappropriately attired (he winks at his date), in her heels I mean, so we had to — “

The yeshiva boy’s date cuts him off and leans forward to the driver, deciding to turn her frustrations into a joke: “Sir, he doesn’t really care about the heels. It’s my actual choice of attire that he finds inappropriate. My skirts are too short, it makes him nervous, he won’t even call me by my name, you know how religious boys are…”

The driver turns the corner. “That’s the problem with religion, it’s sexist,” he says, looking at her in his mirror. “I know because my parents were religious Catholics. It’s all a bunch of sexist garbage.”

The boy and girl laugh nervously over the profanity, and the girl says slowly, “Well, I don’t think religion itself is sexist, it’s just that chauvinists still exist…” She casts the boy a look.

The boy turns back to the driver: “But don’t you agree, sir, that if you have the most precious diamond in the world, you keep it wrapped up? You don’t take it to the streets to show the entire world?”

The girl gasps silently — she is taken backwards in time, back to the apologetics they taught in 7th grade, again and again, bas melech, kol kvoda pnima, a princess’s honor is all inside, a divine jewel to be kept hidden…

But before she can respond, the driver presses the brakes. He turns around and faces the yeshiva boy, and says slowly, his voice shaking with rage: “Listen to me, boy. This is not an object you’re talking about. This is a living, breathing human being.”

 

What he is saying is: when you lock someone away like a diamond, you are treating them like property, not a person.

This is how objectification works:  By preventing other humans from meeting your “diamond,” you prevent other humans from acknowledging their humanity. The other humans only know about them from descriptions. This, essentially, turns them into objects defined by their description.

Not making sense? I’ll be less abstract:

If men learn about women strictly from a photo proffered by a shadchan, then they will accept and reject women based on the simplest algorithm: appearances. Which objectifies women. So, by keeping women hidden from men, you objectify them. You do not protect them.

I can’t believe I blogged about shidduchim for seven years and never realized this.

But there you go: that is the root problem. The reason why shidduch dating is so offensive.

There’s another, similar, point to be made about sexualization. Arguably, there is nothing overtly (or possibly even covertly) sexual about a woman’s knees. However, if a gentleman glances at your knees, blushes, looks away, and refuses to look at you anymore, then your knees have just been sexualized. And you have just been turned into an object. A sexual object. Something that can’t be looked at without creating sexual thoughts, because everything about you — and especially your knobbly knees — are sexual.

In the opening story, the boy (and yes, he’s a boy not a man or even a guy) decided that Avital’s skirt was too short to be seen in public. He begins making decisions for her about how she ought to appear in public, on the theory that she’s not a person, she’s a diamond. Bam! Objectified! Sexualized!

So you see why Avital was a little upset.

By the way, I’m awed by her presence of mind and her guts in telling that smug bochur how it is. She’s my new rebbe. I’m a total fan. Go read her article.

Also, thank you NYC for having awesome taxicab drivers.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “NYC Taxi Driver Tells It Straight

  1. I do not think the story was real, it was bubala masie. Appearances play a role in shidduchim. It’s sad to see frum people getting brain washed by feminists and their agendas.

  2. I often explain one possible benefit from the halachos of Yichud as: It may seem extreme to never, under any circumstances (even where NOTHING CAN HAPPEN) allow a man and woman to be alone together, but I can tell you this much, people who have affairs had to have been alone together at some time, otherwise the circumstances that allowed the OPPORTUNITY to have the affair would never have come about. Ensuring that people are not alone together, takes away the need to the few to have self-control in those few times where it might be needed.

    I do not know the source of the knees and elbows being the endpoints of what needs to be covered, but I will tell you this much, a woman with her knees covered will not be at risk of sitting down and inadvertantly allowing people to see straight up her skirt. (The opposite happens all the time – especially on a subway or any curcumstance where the woman forgets and relaxes her seat posture.) [For that matter, even a woman with her knees completely covered should be aware that if she sits at the top of a staircase or at the edge of a 2nd floor porch overlooking the street — or any place above where people need to look up at her — covering the knees is not enough to prevent people from seeing straight up her skirt when looking up.]

    Covering the elbows ensures no sideboob view.

    That does not mean that one not covering the elbows or knees has no way to protect the view, it just means that if you were Chazal and had to set a minumum rule that had to be in effect for 2,000 years, in hundreds of countries on all continents in all cultures for people of all levels of age, maturity and self-control that would have the most likelihood of ensuring that the REAL personal body parts will not be exposed most of the time, covering knees and elbows would be the minimum.

  3. I was just addressing the “knobbly knees” comment. I think that educating guys sbout respecting all people — half of whom are their mothers, sisters, spouses, and daughters — needs to be stressed way more and started way earlier in life. If a woman is to be compared to a diamond it should be so that we should do everything in our power to help her shine. An unpolished diamond is (almost) a waste.

  4. Hold it Bad4, I’m not sure I understand what you are saying. If we both agree that we object to women being sexualized and objectified, shouldn’t we, as women, cover up to avoid being viewed as a sex object? Or am I missing something?

  5. I’m probably slow or something, but you seem to be posting again. I hope everything is going as well as it can.

  6. The parable of the diamond seems dumb to me, but tzniut has an important role. Exposed women’s (or men’s) flesh makes people unconfortable, ergo in public spaces, where the community enforces some rules, they should dress appropriately if they want to be considered a member of the community. It’s a matter of tact and respect for other people and it does not remove a thing from the humanity or the dignity of women or girls or men or boys. In fact it is an acknowledgement of a very human trait.
    In your private house, or your private villa I don’t care if you go bared. In a public street yes.

  7. This is probably the first thing I’ve read here that is way way way off base. Shows a real lack of depth in understanding tznius both in halacha and hashkafa.

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