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.

 

 

Amy Webb on TED

I posted about Amy’s book about how to date before. Here’s her TED talk below. (Thanks, Doc.) It’s fun.

Amy believes that you should make a list and stick to it. It worked for her: she found a guy who checked her list and married him.
I made a list like hers once. I used it once to eliminate a guy who really was a bad idea (in retrospect). I forget where I put that list, though. And obviously, it hasn’t done more than eliminate men yet.

Conversely, we have Goldy Krantz saying that you should chuck your list, because the guy she married didn’t check hers at all, and the only reason she went out with him was because he sort of drifted into her life slowly, via the “friend” route.  This one sounds easy: Just date everyone. Well, I do that too. Still single. This method doesn’t eliminate men, which is to say it sure does waste a lot of Sundays. Hasn’t panned out for me either.

I suspect the real truth is actually both of them, which is to say, whatever works for you. Or maybe a third way, which I don’t know about yet, because I’m still single.

Anyway, I’m a big fan of Amy’s, so watch her TED talk. It’s only 20 minutes.

NEF Overload

There have definitely been times when I felt like the girl in the lower left of this photo. I mean, c’mon people! Leave me some single friends? Or at least space yourselves out so I don’t have to listen to all of you gush at once? Who am I supposed to complain to after hanging up from that?

I admit, I feel for her. I have never had to deal with 9 NEFs all at once trying to blind me with their rings. How fortunate am I! I never realized how good I’ve had it.

they're all engaged

Jewish Mud Runs?

Chai Lifeline has probably done more for the health of the Jewish community than any (non-existent?) health awareness drives. Granted, we still eat too much chulent Thursday night. (Any chulent Thursday night is too much, imho.) But many people are choosing to pair their charitable efforts with a push at fitness, raising money and racing at the same time.

Right now would-be contributors have a choice between running a marathon and a Lake Tahoe bicycle century.  This is not, I think, enough options. I mean, it’s all lower body! It’s great for a Jew to be able to leave an area fast, but honestly. Maybe we’re a stiff-necked people because we don’t exercise our shoulders enough?

Which is why mud runs are such a great idea. Yes, you’re running. But only between obstacles. Mud runs require a well-rounded fitness level, so you can crawl through tunnels, climb ropes, nets, and walls, scramble over hills of straw or tires, swing across monkey bars, and swim under buoys.  Sounds like fun, right?

Alas, few of them are on Sunday.

Which got me thinking: wouldn’t this make the most amazing chol Hamoed event?

You know, a thematic mud run: Escape from Egypt!

Participants would start out scrambling over a field of straw. They have to haul an oversized brick up a mountain, slide down into a pit of cement, and scramble out via cargo net over bullrushes. (Yes, I’m mixing things. Don’t quibble.)

From here maybe you’ll have to climb a pyramid, dodge Egyptians trying to hit you with (padded) sticks (the children of runners can take this part), and swing hand-over-hand across a row of staffs. (That one needs work.)

Maybe from here you’ll have to duck into a dark tent and scrabble in the sand for some gold. (Find a token and you’re eligible for four cups of win at the finish! Okay, maybe that’s not such a great idea. You come up with a better one.)

You should probably have to catch a goat at some point, but to keep PETA away, we may have to go with a lasso/ring toss type of thing.  Then: can you get through Egypt’s border defenses without breaking your matzah? Think tunnels, cliffs, barbed wire, moats… If you have issues with gebrokts, maybe you’ll want to wrap your matzah in a garbage bag.

Demonstrate your emunah by wading into the Red Sea — and if it splits for you, consider that an automatic win.  For the rest, consider swimming.

Think you’re done? Uh uh. You have to do a little dance with tambourines first while singing Az Yashir. Then off you go, dashing across the hot desert to a water station… which is salty. (Hey, complain to God, not me. …wait, I sounded like Moshe there, didn’t I?)

Dash up a flaming mountain to retrieve your stone tablets, and please don’t comment that it looks like the brick you hauled up there earlier in the race. This is all metaphor, and we don’t have any other slaves to haul things up and down hills for us.

But whoever is playing God up there isn’t giving you your tablets unless you first recite what’s supposed to be written on it. (Go on: can you? Can you? Okay, just sing the Mah Nishtana and get out of here you shameful Jew.)

Anyway, if you make it back to your encampment, you can get your crowns. All finishers receive complementary sticks of marror.

It needs a little work, but I think there’s something there.

Anyone want to produce it, please, please?

I’m HOW Old?

In spite of the fact that I am a “rachmana litzlan!” situation, being single over 25, I still enjoy having a birthday. It’s just fun to say “It’s my birthday today!” and watch everyone react like something special happened just because I was born.

Which is why I decided to have more of them.

I already have two: Hebrew and Gregorian. But there are so many more calendars out there! And I can have a birthday on every one!

I was born in the Chinese year of the tiger (“Rrroawrrr!”), which makes me ferocious and domineering on the outside, but noble on the inside. (Hey, I’ll take it.) I can be generous and selfish, short-tempered and driven, and I hate to fail.

And so on.

Like all such descriptions, most of it can stick with a little effort, and some of it really doesn’t, but it’s nice to be described as a tiger either way.

I am compatible in marriage with horses, dogs, and dragons. If that’s you, please apply by email.

There is however, one problem with the Chinese calendar: it’s shorter than the Gregorian/Hebrew. According to the Chinese calendar, I’m turning 28 this year (in October), instead of 27. Forget being a “rachmanus;” that makes me the kind of pathetic sight that drives you to cover your children’s eyes as you pass, lest it be catchy. Maybe having more birthdays wasn’t such a grand idea after all.

So I moved on to the Muslim calendar. Sadly, there are fewer apps online to translate your Gregorian birthday to the Hijri calendar (and none for your Hebrew birthday… odd that), and they only claim to estimate within a day’s error. This year, my Hijri birthday is only a day after my Gregorian (+/- a day), which is disappointing if you’re trying to proliferate birthdays. And wouldn’t you know it: due to it being shorter than a solar calendar year, I’m turning 28 in Muslim years too!

I’m not really sure how to take this news. On the one hand, I’m older and wiser in Chinese and Muslim company. I can command more respect (Probably? Maybe? Possibly?). On the other hand, both cultures would surely agree with their Hebrew counterparts that being single at 28 is more of a tragedy than any amount of wisdom could counterbalance.

The moral of the story, I guess, is that the grass is not really greener elsewhere. Don’t be dissatisfied with your solar calendars – they endow you with youth. If you go searching farther afield, you’ll only age faster, and not get any more respect for it.

…Oh hey wait! I just an an awesome idea! I’m going to calculate my age in Martian years!

…And never mind. That makes me only 14. I can’t even be a legal independent. I guess I’m stuck with what I’ve got.