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I Thought I Was a Girl (Not an Object)

I Thought I Was a Girl (Not an Object)

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He’s just your average college guy.

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.

Something’s holding me back from relaxing

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. Someone.

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 within 5 square feet and are 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 has something to do with men’s health.

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

This magazine is dedicated to the objectification of women 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.

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 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?

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

Row 21 has never been the scene of so much squirming. I am cringing from within.

This girl wants to cry.

He is effacing my gender On a flight to Miami, I am forced to face the harsh reality of how all-too-many view the purpose 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 that 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 woman?

This girl feels a little taken advantage of.

She feels a loss of innocence.

And all because of your average college guy.

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

He sits to my right.

He is a boy.

I am an object.

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Rick Baltimore August 17, 2017

One more thing: I have seen before complaints about men sitting spread out. Even when I'm alone, I sit with my legs spread about 45^. I can squeeze them together but it takes effort. Something to do with the way my hips are made.
Even if everyone sat in 1st Class, there is still only 6 inches between seats, and one can still read over the other person's shoulder. Reply

Rick Baltimore August 17, 2017

His behavior was normal. He may have been objectifying the women in the magazine, but not you. And it's hard to have a deep, fulfilling relationship with a picture in a magazine. I think it's the nature of boys and men, and to a lesser extent the nature of girls and women, acknowledged by Judaism, to care what a woman looks like, and afaict, this boy wasn't even a Jew, not as much bound if at all by the standard expected of him. Reply

IlanaLeeds Melbourne September 2, 2012

I do know where the author is coming from Those who are critical of her do have a worldlier approach and have been married for some years. I agree withher about the objectification of women and sexuality in this world. We need to focus on the sacredness of desire for a member of the opposite sex and put it into perspective. We marry and have families because of it but Hashem set strict boundaries on the way we conduct ourselves for good reasons.it is to make us more sensitive and aware as people and to value our spouse. Reply

Anonymous Omaha, Nebraska February 25, 2012

It's a Free Country The young man was minding his own business, oblivious to the young woman next to him. If she was embarrassed or offended, that is her right also. But it was she who was eavesdropping on his privacy. Right or wrong, he was just reading and relaxing in his way. She could have done likewise, and not be judgmental. We live in a world of many people, some good, some bad. When I was on a plane, I had to take a seat next to a middle aged couple, and spent the entire trip listening to the man, obviously an architect, talk about his latest project to his wife, and peruse his blueprints, while she nodded off to sleep, her head dropping on my shoulder. When you board a plane, you never know who your seat partner(s) are going to be. Just part and parcel of air travel.. Make the best of it. It's only temporary. Reply

Anonymous Tacoma, WA February 21, 2012

Objectification not just of women I would have been uncomfortable by so much physical proximity, too. Personal space, anyone? Concerning the magazine: it reflects today's society and culture in which beauty and youth are everything, sex sells, and women are objectified. But make no mistake; by reading this magazine this young man also objectified himself. Have you noticed how guys are portrayed in magazines like this? A "real" man has to be tall and muscular, drive an ostentatious car, be successful in his job, and make lots of money. That's the only way women will find you attractive. You're not a real man if you don't succeed at all of those things is the message of these magazines, and men have fallen victims to this message just as women have fallen victim to the messages about beauty in women's magazines. You may have been uncomfortable, but you were aware of the objectification taking place, albeit just of your own. This young man however was completely ignorant of both. Reply

Anonymous Omaha, Nebraska February 27, 2011

So why look? I think people have a right to read whatever they wish. The young man was not bothering this young lady. He never looked at her or spoke to her. He was minding his own business, so I don't know what she was complaining about. Instead of sneaking surreptitious looks at his magazine and judging him, she could have engaged in reading a book of her own choosing, or do some needlework or knitting to keep her mind occupied elsewhere. He seemed to be oblivious of her presence, and was not trying to offend her. I figure what other people choose to read is their business, not mine. If it had been me, it would not have bothered me in the least. Reply

Masha Toronto October 22, 2010

He thought he was a boy The magazined objectifies guys too- as you had mentioned the guy on the front.

A woman who uses her body to attract a man will get a dog, the Greek saying goes.

Same goes for a man who uses money, looks, and nothing of substance to get a woman- he will get a female dog. Reply

Anonymous ozark August 8, 2010

who is the object? When men objectify women, they really debase themselves as beings created in the image of G-d, thus becoming an object themselves. Reply

Anonymous Venice, FL via chabadofvenice.com July 11, 2010

Poetry To me, this "article" sounds like art and the "experience" perhaps only exists in the mind of the writer.

I take it as commentary, a cry for a pure-of-mind pure-of-soul male.

What is her father like? Has she had respectful males in her life?

It is good to have a reaction in order to know what one wants in life. This girl needs to honor that she needs to find a man pure in heart, mind, and soul. And she will, if she will not settle for less. Reply

Anonymous Loveland, CO December 1, 2009

this is a big deal This article IS important for all americans to read and understand that it is wrong to look at those images even if it doesn't show full on nudity, and it just shows women immodestly dressed. men are viewing it as comfortable it is still wrong. I think people forget how it is wrong to lust, and that a man should guard his eyes and keep them just for his wife. It is equally not right for women to pose like that and to take advantage of mens visual aspects, Thats just how men are. but in the same sense men and women can control what they look at just as much as they can control what they say and do. Our jobs in this life is to not be open minded and to except everything, our jobs is to be the best that
G-d wants us to be, And that means by doing the right thing and by keeping our thoughts and images and what we allow in to be kosher as well. Reply

Mrs Rachel Steiner Jerusalem October 21, 2009

Perversion!!??? would you rather he was looking at a picture of a scantily clad man?

Don't talk nonsense about perversion. Modesty is well and good and there to enhance sexuality. There is nothing immodest or perverse about men being attracted to the female form - it is how G-d created the world. Otherwise babies would never be made and men would just stay infront of Eurosports all day.

The Torah puts controls on this sexual attraction rightly so people don't abuse each other. But if you view male desire as perversion then you are going to head for big trouble when you get married. Reply

Anonymous June 18, 2009

Don't Make Yourself Into a Victim No one can make you into an object unless you let them. It's not as if he, G-D forbid, attacked "This Girl". He opened a magazine, and to him, this is perfectly normal. Although to "This Girl" it may have seemed like pornography, it wasn't. Had it been, that would have been a different story. "This Girl" is very sensitive but lacks appropriate boundaries, which she will need to develop. She could have used the time to read tehillim instead of working herself up into a victimhood frenzy and actually writing about it. Reply

Anonymous June 9, 2009

society today Wonderfully written. Please do more.

What a place society has come to. In public places we are crammed together into situations where physical contact is nearly impossible to avoid. Yet there are many who seem comfortable to stretch out and make the space even smaller.

Printing has gotten so good that they are too clear to call "just pictures". And the same is true for movies. We watch everything at home on a 110 inch HD screen. It is really just like being there. There is disagreement at home even because he argues that they are "just pictures" and I see it a taking advantage of women and making my body less special -- just another body to look at during the day.
(until the debate is settled, we have a no nudity rule. Period.)

Looking away for the little things just leads to the bigger problems. Little by little modesty is disappearing. And it is shocking where it has gone already. Why should I have to justify not having undressed (or even half undressed) women in my home? Reply

Nancy Walker March 15, 2009

Youthful Attraction, Or, Protesting Too Much After reading this article and many of the comments I imagined: What luck! I get to sit next to a beautiful, radiantly pure young lady for the whole flight! I am very competitive, my physical form is enviable. I will be like a tropical bird and display myself. I will pull out this magazine and show her that I am dedicated to physical fitness and appreciation of the female anatomy - the only level of beauty I am at this time able to appreciate. If it were a man I was sitting next to, I would pull in my legs and read more privately. If she were fifty years older I would probably just listen to my iPod. But here is someone I instinctively want to impress. I wish she would just say hi. I won't, I respect her. She has to make the first move. But I'm not going to push her. SO- the boy is normal, young, on the alert for a life partner. So was she! So was she! They were more alike than the story reveals. Reply

M.H. Yerushelayim/North Miami Beach, Israel/Florida February 17, 2009

poor reading comp. skills First of all, Mimi, your writing is beautiful, and I hope to see more of your work.

Secondly, most of the commenters missed the entire beginning of this sensitive piece. Mimi was uncomfortable sitting next to this sprawled-out young man. Couldn't relax at all...even before the magazine came out. Mimi told us all about herself there. I commend her for her sensitivity and I commend her parents for giving her such a refined upbringing.

I don't think the point here was the magazine. The point was our society. Reply

Anonymous meriden, ct February 3, 2009

how was she opressed,if she was insulted then she should have spoken up.or she could have kept busy.If a woman is confident with herself than no man can offend her by reading something she finds offensive,lets get a tougher skin, Reply

Anonymous January 31, 2009

For all of you Anonymouses saying that it was the young woman's fault, I would like to know how many of you are actually female. I am male, but I know that this girl has a right to feel violated. The media has made it seem okay--even 'cool'--to treat women as sex toys. She did not speak up because she felt dominated; his actions said "I am a man and you are an object." And it really doesn't matter whether the models were paid or not; this girl was opressed. It's wrong that the media has so subtly blended sexism into everyday life. Reply

Anonymous October 15, 2008

very well written,but the magazine he was looking at was not a vulgar one.the woman in this magizine get paid to be half naked,that is their choice,people know the difference from a person in a magazine and one sitting next to them, you were still a woman to him not an object,the object was the woman on the page,he was not reading a playboy next to you,that would be different because then that is truly disgusting and inappriotiate,he was not the reason you did not relax,you were the reason,I would have ignored the guy next to me and enjoyed my flight,he was not raised like you and he has no idea about the level of morals orthodoxy has,I don't understand why you took it so personal,I hope you will not look at the pages and just relax. Reply

Rivka June 24, 2008

Oh wow this is an amazing, brilliant piece of writing. I have never seen this topic so well tackled. You summed up everything that is wrong with today's society. Brilliant. I'm in awe. Reply

Anonymous thornhill, ont April 16, 2008

Thankyou for this article. The words I used in my previous comment were a tad too strong and negative, `crying for the response of...``. But the writer does make a very valid and very good point. That we must treat our fellow like we treat ourselves.

I am going to have to disagree with the writer on one account and this objection is obvious and although I think the writer is aware of it (but overlooked it to emphasize the thesis in the article); it is still necessary to point out. It should not be demanded of ever person to interact on a private and personal level with G-d forbid every other person.

When speaking about the world there is an amount of separation that is necessary an amount of individuality that is required-in fact that is what gives the world its worldliness. We are people in that world but if we do mitzvahs in this world we reach higher than both G-dly (infinite) intellect and emotion. We then connect to a level of G-d that does not differentiate between light and darkness and then draw that into the world. fact, that is the main point of creation.


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